Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Breakdown: “The Ones Who Left Are the Lucky Ones”

By Neal Comment

After we started publishing insider accounts of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt layoffs Friday morning, the field dispatches from Austin and Orlando led an employee at the Evanston office to share an additional perspective. “Definite numbers on terminations are hard to come by, but estimates suggest somewhere between 50 and 75 of about 200,” this source told us, adding a department-by-department rundown

“Editorial and Design losses were relatively light, but these two departments have a greatly diminished presence because of [reductions-in-force] during the Blackstone/Bain and Riverdeep periods and the ‘rationalization’ after the HM/Harcourt merger. Inside Sales and Sales Support took major hits, as did Marketing and Communications (completely gone). Tech was greatly reduced, too.”

“The survivors here feel very uncertain about the future,” the insider continued. “One of the big rumors floating around before the layoffs was that the Evanston personnel would be moved to the Rolling Meadows office. In response to questions about this [Friday], management was noncommittal—’Not at this time’.” That prompted someone who claimed to have been laid off from the Rolling Meadows office to remark “there certainly ought to be room now… the figure we were hearing was 20 percent of staff though I can’t verify that.”

“Those of us who are left behind feel completely discouraged and distrustful,” says a remaining Austin employee. “Not to mention disheartened at the fact that we will likely once again have to justify the products under development to yet another new Executive Team. The ones who left are the lucky ones, as far as I’m concerned.”