Apple is doing what it can to help keep employees’ jobs even as the economy falters and other tech giants scramble to lay off workers. To achieve that goal, the company has been working since last summer to control costs and improve operational efficiency. Now the results seem to be good.
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Compared with other large technology companies, Apple seems to be more reluctant to make large-scale layoffs. That’s because Apple is far more profitable than any other company, raking in $30 billion in the last quarter alone. Apple is also sitting on a $165 billion cash pile and needs to maintain a solid reputation. Plus, there are other positive growth factors for Apple: The company’s stock has risen about 20% so far this year. Just three months away, company management expects to unveil its first mixed-reality headset and operating system, a platform it hopes will lay the groundwork for a post-iPhone era.
All of this means that Apple’s layoffs will do far more damage to company morale and public perception than Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
Meanwhile, Apple executives are considered some of the most tactically minded in the business. The layoffs either mean they made a strategic mistake or that the global economy is in worse shape than feared. Either way, this could have knock-on effects across different industries and economies.
By contrast, one shouldn’t be too surprised that Apple’s rivals are taking aggressive steps. Most of these companies are hiring aggressively during the epidemic, which is exactly what Apple is trying to avoid. Meta’s big bet on the Metaverse, spending billions on this vision, has yet to pay off. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have also entered markets with still uncertain prospects that lie outside their core areas of strength.
In addition, there are many unfavorable factors beyond the control of technology giants, such as soaring interest rates, currency fluctuations, international conflicts and epidemics. Apple has also been hit hard by these factors, with sales down 5% last quarter and sales are expected to drop by a similar amount this quarter. But Apple is in a better position to weather the downturn.
Still, Apple is trying to control costs and improve operational efficiency. And the process started last summer, ahead of many other major companies’ efforts to cut costs and increase efficiency.
Here’s what Apple has done so far to avoid layoffs:
1) Apple announced that it will postpone the payment of bonuses to certain teams, and change the previous two-year payment to a one-time payment. Those teams will now collect their full prize money in October. While Apple has booked that money into its finances, it can keep cash on hand for a while longer.
2) Some projects have been delayed until next year, including new home devices like the HomePod with a screen, allowing Apple to allocate its R&D budget to more pressing projects.
3) Apple has controlled the budget of several teams, and more projects need the approval of the senior vice president to move forward.
4) Apple has completely suspended hiring for some teams and severely limited hiring for others.
5) When some people choose to leave, Apple will keep these open positions instead of filling them immediately.
6) In some cases, Apple is restricting the transfer of employees to other departments or retail stores, after all, this process usually comes with increased costs.
7) Apple laid off many contract workers (part-time employees) last year. The company has also quietly cut the number of contractors on its engineering and other teams in recent weeks.
8) The travel budget has been significantly reduced and staff travel now requires senior management approval. For some departments, travel will cease entirely for the foreseeable future, except for critical business reasons.
9) Managers need to scrutinize attendance, now Apple employees usually work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Some employees believe that this is a harbinger of the company’s dismissal of employees who do not meet the requirements.
10) In the retail sector, Apple is keeping a close eye on employee attendance and hours. Many workers worry that if they fail to meet a certain number of hours, they may be fired. Others believe Apple has saved the company money by taking tougher measures to get employees to resign automatically.
11) Retail workers also claim that in some cases, Apple will not switch shifts if they are sick or otherwise absent. The company also eliminated “special sick leave” and required employees to use normal sick leave or not get paid.
12) Some retail workers say Apple doesn’t always replace employees when they leave. Additionally, the number of people leaving their jobs for various reasons appears to be on the rise.
While some of these moves have unnerved rank-and-file Apple employees, Apple’s approach has been softer than many companies. In recent months, Apple’s main competitors have cut more than 50,000 jobs in total, which is equivalent to nearly half of Apple’s total workforce.
The measures Apple has implemented have worked so far, with operating expenses for the holiday season well below the company’s expectations. The company also expects the increase in these costs to slow significantly compared to the same period last year.
However, things are not absolute. While mass layoffs at Apple seem unlikely anytime soon, as we’ve seen over the past three years, the world is as unpredictable as ever. Tim Cook himself has said layoffs would be a “last resort.” As an expert in the field of public relations, Tim Cook obviously did not completely rule out the possibility of layoffs.