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The tech industry is volatile and subject to the whims of the market. With the recession that’s predicted to hit the global economy in late 2023, companies everywhere, from small startups to major enterprises, are already taking countermeasures to combat it. Ironically, the most commonly employed countermeasure is large-scale layoffs.
Just recently, Microsoft announced 10,000 job cuts, impacting nearly 5% of its global workforce, as part of “workforce reduction” measures the company is taking. This was soon followed by a similar announcement from Google’s parent company, Alphabet. CEO Sundar Pichai commented on the downsizing, saying the company had “hired for a different economic reality” than what it’s up against today.
During times of economic hardship, it is important for companies to maintain a stable, employed workforce. This is why many businesses are searching for alternatives to layoffs as a method to get through these challenging times. Let’s explore what some of these potential alternatives could be.
A substitute for layoffs is to recruit fewer people each month in the first place. Companies might limit the pace of new recruits and concentrate on keeping their present employees. This is one of the factors that they can adapt to rather than reduce their current staff.
During the height of the pandemic, companies like Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft hired and grew their employee base significantly. In contrast, Apple hired at a more modest rate compared to its peers, adding only 17,000 new recruits between 2020 and 2022. Now that uncertain times are ahead, and we see the consequences of overhiring in the form of mass layoffs. On the other hand, Apple has avoided using layoffs as a tool to deal with these dire circumstances.
The implementation of a hiring freeze is an additional alternative to laying off present employees. This entails putting a temporary stop to all new hiring until the business’s financial situation improves. By doing so, companies can cut expenditures while maintaining the current staff.
Another reason why Apple is not laying off its employees like its counterparts — is that it implemented a hiring freeze in November 2022 to prepare for the turbulent times that are ahead. There’s no news on when the freeze will be lifted, with sources even saying that it could go on until September 2023.
Reducing working hours
Reducing the number of hours a worker works each week is one such option that can prove to be beneficial. This enables businesses to maintain their personnel while also cutting expenditures. Employees who are able to keep their jobs but with fewer hours worked may also benefit from it, freeing up more time for other activities.
Reducing hours, not workers, is the right for forward-looking business leaders to institute today. 73 companies in the UK ran an experiment with a four-day workweek. The results showed that managers and employees generally described being more or equally productive in a shortened week. A shorter work week gives employees more time to spend with their friends and family and focuses on any hobbies or part-time ventures they wish to cultivate.
Voluntary separation or leave
Offering voluntary unpaid leave is another substitute for permanently laying off workers. Although this reduces the number of employees, it also gives them the option to return to their positions later. This is advantageous for the employer and employee because it lets workers take a short break while businesses save money.
Alternatively, companies can also implement a voluntary separation program. This enables employees to willingly leave the organization in exchange for severance compensation. This may be a successful strategy for reducing the workforce while still treating the impacted workers with fairness and compassion. Coca-Cola offered voluntary separation packages to 4000 employees in North America, and it included some major incentives like at least a year’s pay plus a 20% bump.
Focusing on employee retention
The most optimal way to avoid layoffs is to reduce employee turnover. High turnover can lead to a constant need to fill available positions, which can be costly and time-consuming. Businesses can decrease the number of unfilled positions and the need to hire and train new employees by putting more emphasis on employee retention and taking measures to improve it. Employers can concentrate on keeping their present staff members by offering them competitive wage packages, flexible work schedules, and opportunities for career advancement.
When to layoff employees?
It’s crucial to remember that laying off employees should only be used as a last resort. Additionally, when layoffs are unavoidable, the business should manage the situation with transparency and empathy. It’s vital to avoid doing bad layoffs or for the wrong reasons. The recent Twitter layoffs are a prime example of a bad layoff, with employees either being informed by email that they have been laid off or finding out after discovering that they have been locked out of their work laptops or communication channels.
Layoffs are not always the best option and can often be detrimental to the organization as a whole. Companies can keep a steady workforce while still controlling expenses and adapting to market changes by thinking about possible alternatives to layoffs. Employers should be aware of their options and carefully consider them while putting the interests of their staff first.