10 ways Apple has avoided mass layoffs

So far, Apple has avoided mass layoffs that have plagued its rivals by implementing a series of cost-cutting measures, some of which are pretty harsh.

Tim Cook sitting at a table outside the Apple Park headquarters
  • What’s happening? According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple’s managed to avoid mass layoffs by implementing a series of cost-cutting measures.
  • Why care? Apple wants to avoid laying off workers to protect its reputation. In doing so, however, the company may have raised employee concerns.
  • What to do? Go read the full report on Bloomberg.

Apple’s cost-cutting measures to avoid mass layoffs

The article assumes that eventual layoffs at Apple would tarnish the company’s brand and damage employee morale while creating a significant PR problem for management because the company is viewed through a different lens than its rivals.

Apple’s top executives are seen as some of the most tactical minds in the industry. Layoffs would either signal that they’d made a strategic blunder or the global economy is in even worse shape than people feared. Either way, it could send ripples through different industries and economies.

Gurman has laid out the following decisions, moves and changes in Apple’s policies aimed at weathering the economic slump without letting go of thousands of workers:

1. Delayed bonuses

Teams that received bonuses twice per year will get their entire bonus in October, allowing Apple to “keep that cash on hand a little longer.”

2. Budget scrutiny

Apple froze budgets for some teams, with senior vice president approval required for more items.

3. Hiring freeze

Hiring has either stopped or got severely limited, depending on the teams. And when a person leaves their position, Apple doesn’t fill their role, according to the report.

4. Employee transfer limitations

Some corporate and retail workers are barred from moving to other departments.

5. Firing recruiters and contracts

Apple has let go “many” of its recruiters on contracts and contractors who had been helping the company’s engineering teams and other departments.

6. Travel restrictions

Apple has “significantly” cut down on travel budgets and trips now require senior executive approval. “For some departments, travel has been halted completely for the foreseeable future other than for business-critical reasons,” says Gurman.

7. Office attendance enforcement

The work-from-home era has caused many Apple employees to become reluctant to return to their offices. However, employees are required to show up at the Apple Park headquarters on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. According to Gurman, some employees fear this could signal Apple’s willingness to let go of employees who may have a problem with that policy.

8. Stricter requirements for retail workers

People who work in retail departments are feeling the pressure, too, as Apple is now scrutinizing work attendance and hours. Retail workers are concerned Apple could lay them off unless they’re capable of hitting a certain number of work hours.

“Some staffers also believe Apple is taking a tougher line in order to get employees to quit, saving the company money,” the article reads. Forcing employees to quit is such a lousy practice. It’s something I’d expect from shady companies, not Apple.

9. Getting rid of “special sick time”

In some cases, the Cupertino technology giant wouldn’t even replace the hours of retail employees who call in sick or are absent for other reasons.

The company is also removing “special sick time” for time missed due to Covid, asking staffers to use normal sick time instead—or not get paid.

10. Increasing regular firings

While Apple has avoided mass layoffs, that doesn’t mean workers’ jobs are safe. In some cases, Apple wouldn’t replace retail workers who left, with others expected to pick up their work. Also, firings for standard reasons “appear to be up” as well.

But what about employee morale?

Closeup of an Apple logo above entrance to a glass Apple retail store
Belt-tightening at Apple is in full swing | Image: Trac Vu/Unsplash

Apple’s chief rivals like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Meta have already laid off more than 50,000 workers, or nearly half of Apple’s corporate workforce.

More mass layoffs in Silicon Valley could be coming as the economy continues to suffer due to inflation, the war in Ukraine, increasing interest rates, etc.

Apple could have announced mass layoffs but instead picked a different route because, as Gurman puts it, the company “has a reputation for stability to protect.”

But even with all that said, we believe that some of the iPhone maker’s policies—such as forcing employees to quit or threatening to fire workers who can’t hit specific quotas regarding the number of work hours—border on corporate bullying.

Whatever happened to treating your employees with dignity and fairness?