Updated: May 15
Dr. Brittany Castonguay, CEO 15 March 2023 #Culture
Now, faced with a fear of consumers reducing spending for entertainment purposes, Big Tech companies responded with mass layoff announcements. Citing high inflation and fears of an impending recession, Big Tech executives have announced large quantities of layoffs over the previous few months. These justifications may work to satisfy stakeholders and executives but need to account for the doubled amounts of recruiting the technology sector expanded upon during the pandemic.
By doing so, Big Tech companies have made a statement that is resounding down to the lowest echelon and is seeding discontent for the industry. Employees are dispensable and can be disregarded when no longer needed. Yet, during the pandemic, hiring for Big Tech companies ranged from 20-50%. The message this sends to the workforce is convoluted and misleading. People should not be treated as invaluable widgets but as value-added assets contributing to the organization's overall success.
To circumvent the situation these organizations currently face, HRM recommends a strategic approach that places the employee as the focal point of the solution and is not fixated on the problem. HR managers will recommend alternatives to layoffs that retain talent and reduce the negative strain placed on the culture, both facts that will result from layoffs.
HRM alternatives to layoffs may include:
Prioritize strategic hiring practices. Reducing hours worked to reduce the economic consequences of layoffs.
Require higher supervisor approval for overtime.
Scrutinize the budget, KPIs, and outcomes to identify wasteful practices that can be eliminated.
Adopt a voluntary separation program (VSP)
The workforce is a lifecycle. The decision to conduct layoffs equates to too many hires. When organizations take on too many hires, the budget and output of services will become imbalanced. Without strategic oversight, the imbalance will negatively impact the productivity of operations. Using the present situation of Big Tech companies, the mass reduction of staffing is a short-sided result of poor strategic planning during the Pandemic. These organizations increased their manning by 50% of their current workforce to capitalize on remote workers. In doing so, other external factors, like a possible recession, were not considered. Now the employees are left to deal with the aftermath of the decisions made by these large firms.
Those forced out will face intense hiring competitions, while those who remain struggle with an eroded culture. In either example, the employee loses. Whether you remain or find new employment opportunities, the company that engaged in layoffs avoided other strategic HRM practices that could have reduced the lost talent and sought to put profits ahead of their most valuable asset, people. Moving forward, we can only hope that these companies recognize the actual price associated with layoffs and strive to mitigate these options in the future.