In the first week of February, CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg announced that 2023 is the “Year of Efficiency” for his company after laying off over 11,000 employees. Raj Subramaniam, CEO of FedEx Corp, wrote in a memo to employees that this year the company would prioritize efficiency and agility, and as a result will reduce global officer and director jobs by more than 10%. Over the last six months, companies across all sectors have begun to cut jobs. Across the board, companies seem to be cutting down on one position in particular: the middle manager.
Middle managers are the backbone of any organization, responsible for supervising and coordinating the work of lower-level employees while also communicating with upper management. However, during a financial crisis, their jobs become expendable. Companies feel that they can cut costs by eliminating middle management positions and shifting those responsibilities to higher-level executives.
Across the tech sector, management positions appear to be under particular siege. Many executives in this field believe that top tech companies can thrive with just their core engineering teams, and this sentiment is perhaps best embodied by Elon Musk’s “hardcore” Twitter 2.0. Musk, who recently took over the social media platform, has already made significant changes to the company’s workforce, reducing its staff from 7,000 to a more streamlined team. “Elon, what’s the one thing that’s most messed up at Twitter right now?” Musk was asked on the platform in October. He replied: “There seem to be 10 people ‘managing’ for every one person coding.”
The reason for this “seige” is simple. Middle managers are often viewed as an additional layer of management that can be eliminated without affecting the overall function of the company. They are not considered essential workers like those in sales, operations, or production, and their positions can be seen as unnecessary overhead.
And perhaps the most convincing reason to justify laying off people in this position is simply because they are cheap. Middle management positions are often filled by individuals with less experience or tenure with the company than their higher-ranking counterparts. As a result, they are often paid less making it easier to justify their elimination during a cost-cutting exercise. To put it simply, the lowest level employees do most of the grunt work. The middle managers are there to supervise those low level employees at a cheap cost. Eliminating individuals in this position is justifiable because they are not getting paid nearly as much as a higher ranking management position, and their jobs can easily be untaken by individuals in these higher ranking positions.