How Does a Small Company Culture Lay Off Employees? With a Job Fair

Guest post by Veena Vadgama, Vice President of Marketing for Network Instruments

Making a decision to reduce headcount or shut down operations is a scenario no CEO ever wants to face. But how a CEO delivers this news and treats his or her employees after the announcement can say a lot about the company’s culture.

In Austin, Texas in 2000, I worked for a business DSL start-up as a marketing specialist. It was a great place to be. I worked hard alongside some incredibly talented folks. Unfortunately, our company did not receive its second round of funding—forcing us to close our doors. We were one of the first in a series of tech companies to go under as the Dot-Com Bubble collapsed.

But here is what happened next. The management team and human resources stayed on an extra week to assist all of us to find a new job. It wasn’t a “here is your paycheck and good luck” speech. It was: “We’re sorry this did not go as planned. But we will do everything we can to find you a new path forward.”

And they did.

  1. They held a Job Fair with other Austin Ventures companies and Austin firms that were hiring. I found my next job through the fair.
  2. HR met with us one-on-one regarding our resumes and cover letters. Rather than leaving us to search the web for help, our company recruiters came to us with advice, resources, and feedback.
  3. Our supervisors and their managers spent time to write recommendation letters for us. They didn’t do this in their spare time; they allocated time during the workday. We didn’t have to approach our managers for letters; they approached us.

These may seem like small gestures. But to those of us on the front line, new in our careers, and not network savvy (this was before LinkedIn remember), these small gestures communicated a big message: “We are all in this together.”

I worked for a larger company after the start-up. That company was later acquired by an even larger conglomerate. But while bigger companies may offer bigger benefits, it was the small organization that took care of its colleagues in a big way that I will never forget.


  1. I remember this company… they set the bar high for treating employees right. And I understand that Calxeda did the same thing recently. After all employees make the business.

  2. Veena, the fact that you’re writing about this 13 years later demonstrates the impact leaders can have by going the extra mile and dealing creatively and humanely with a difficult situation. Thanks for sharing a much needed message.


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