First ever layoffs from Critical Mass

When I first started work here at Critical Mass, I compared it to Radical, my previous company. I noted how the size was similar, how the age distribution was similar, how the energy was similar. Now I can add one more thing to that list.


Unlike Radical, though, this wasn’t due to us suddenly losing a major client. This was due to a few bad decisions made during a downturn in our industry. We had thought (rather soundly, or so we thought) that we were doing okay. But then a few things didn’t happen as planned, and suddenly, we were short a few million in revenue.

Attempts were made to avoid layoffs. Freezes, restrictions, everything a company can try to cut expenses. But when 75% of your expenses come from salaries … well, sooner or later you’ll have to look there, too. After a couple days of high-level talks, it was decided that we had to cut 20 people.

We lost eight people in a 30 person office in Toronto. Most were due to a contract that failed to produce funds when needed. Another 12 were released here. There were a few surprises, a couple of which many of us are quite dismayed about. But we can’t do very much about it.

We’re toning back a few things, too. Our annual Kelowna trip will not happen this year. It might not happen again. Bonuses will be quite different this year than last, or so we’ve been told. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Obviously, I’m still here. Unlike the two layoff rounds at Radical, I didn’t feel under fire here. I suppose it’s because I know not only that our department is necessary for operation, but I’ve become a little too useful to be simply let go. Cockiness and arrogance, perhaps, but that’s also what I’ve been told.

Still though, it wasn’t easy losing 20 people. Their departures will be felt, and morale will suffer for the short term. But like with wounds, time will heal us. After all, whatever doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger…

…and really bitter.