Cisco yesterday announced it an 8% cut to its workforce. Although the company did not say when the layoffs would occur, the suggestion is that some 6,500 workers will find themselves without a job at some point in the future.
Or will they?
The last time the networking giant announced layoffs was August 2013. At that time, it said it would pare 4,000 jobs from its global workforce of 75,049 workers. And just five months earlier, Cisco had indicated it would cut 500 other positions. Yet as of July 2014, the close of its 2014 fiscal year, the company had about 74,000 staffers worldwide. While numbers for its fiscal fourth quarter aren’t yet available, the firm cut just 1,200 jobs through the first three quarters of its fiscal 2014.
Even accounting for open jobs that Cisco may have decided not to fill and offsets from acquisitions, the number of announced layoffs do not seem to match — that is, fall well short of — what Cisco says it will eliminate.
This is a trend.
As of July 2012, Cisco employed 66,639 workers. That month, it said it would cut 1,300 jobs. A year later its headcount had increased by more than 8,400 workers.
Even the last major bloodletting wasn’t as, well, bloody as predicted. In July 2011 Cisco announced it would ax 6,500 jobs, or 9% of its 71,825-man staff. A year later the headcount stood at 5,186 less, a significant number to be sure, but not as bad as what was forecast.
I’m not suggesting Cisco is being intentionally disingenuous about its plans. Certainly many companies respond to predicted downturns with layoffs, and perhaps in most of these cases business has been stronger than what was expected, thus sparing many people the ax. A cynic might say these moves are done less for the actual bottom line and more to pump up the stock price. So be it. Nor is Cisco alone, for that matter. But it goes to show that job security, even in the volatile tech sector, is likely better than one would think from just reading the headlines.