When will The Tech Industry’s Lay-off Season End? The Story of a Broken Trust


Employee ExperienceThe technology realm is navigating a nasty layoff season. So far, in 2023, over 1.53 lakh people have lost their jobs from big-tech firms. Intel is one of the latest tech giants to join the trend as companies try to tackle the current global economic turmoil. A few days ago, LinkedIn also joined the long list of tech companies firing employees as the Microsoft-owned corporate networking platform recently laid off over 700 employees and even plans to shutter its China-focused job search application. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, who took charge of Twitter last year, also fired a significant number of people on the social media platform, while Dell Technologies fired around 6,650 employees. To top all of them, e-commerce giant Amazon laid off a massive 18,000 employees. The flaring question is when will this layoff season end? It is highly expected to end in the second half of 2023. And employers need to be ready to win the trust of employees back. And it is going to be an uphill battle.

Once the Lay Off Season is Over…
“In a world where money is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is the most promising competitive advantage that organizations can create.” aesthetically elucidates Jacob Morgan, a bestselling author and one of the world’s leading authorities on the future of work and employee experience. The pandemic has turned a corner in bringing the spotlight on employee experience. Remember, the world is flooded with unemployment and people who constantly google for IT jobs around them. But it is safe to say that monetary benefits and perks are no longer the pivots when employees choose where they want to work. 

A Gartner, Inc. survey just after the pandemic found that 64 percent of employees worldwide prioritize experience more highly now than before the coronavirus outbreak. One of the significant aspects of employee experience is flexibility. A hybrid workplace model mixes in-office and remote work to offer flexibility and support to employees. In a hybrid workplace, employees typically enjoy more autonomy and better work-life balance – and are more engaged as a result. According to a recent study by Gartner, employees are 12 percent more likely to leave their workplaces if employers don’t establish explicit hybrid work norms.

However, when this layoff summer cools down, it goes without saying that employees would still want jobs. Still, just their choice to stick around doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly going to be an ideally engaged, highly motivated workforce. Employers must win their trust back. 

The experts note that when an organization creates a more formalized hybrid work model, it significantly helps HR leaders to reduce work friction and increase engagement by establishing and communicating new norms more intentionally and explicitly. However, the hiring industry is at a watershed moment, and it is important to come on top of the trends with a futuristic vision inclusive of the needs of modern-day employees. Besides flexibility, the research found that the most successful hybrid models encompass two main categories of explicit norms: increase visibility and foster connections. 

Being More Transparent & Fostering Connections
The survey found that companies that share work preferences across their hybrid working structure experience eight percent higher employee engagement, a seven percent higher sense of inclusion, and five percent higher performance compared to teams that do not, according to a Gartner survey of 3,524 employees conducted from October 2022 to November 2022.

Commenting on the survey of 3,524 employees conducted from October 2022 to November 2022, Caitlin Duffy, director of the Gartner HR practice, mentioned, “Sharing work preferences should not be a static, one-time occurrence as work preferences evolve over time and with team staffing changes. Progressive organizations build dedicated time to revisit and update work preferences into everyone’s schedule, and any newly created teams or projects begin with a review of all members’ work preferences.”

Suppose Gartner’s research is anything to go by. In that case, organizations are more likely to improve productivity by facilitating periodic in-person meetings and on-site work with managers rather than implementing rigid work-from-office mandates. But unfortunately, only 40 percent of organizations implement either of these methods. The research also indicates that organizations implement policies that call for employees to work from the office. In contrast, managers who can work remotely are more likely to foster disappointment and resentment among the workforce, which could ultimately lead to attrition.

Learning & Development
The enterprise realm is becoming more competitive with every passing day. Employees realize constant learning is paramount while navigating a flaring need for a multi-skilled workforce. The corporate e-learning market is set to grow by $37.80 billion from 2020 to 2025. Technavio’s report projects the market to progress at a CAGR of 13 percent, driven by growth in the corporate e-learning market and the reduction in employee training costs for employers. The skyrocketing digital learning solutions and transforming learning preferences of employees bring an opportunity for L&D functions to invest more heavily in HR technologies that augment: skills management solutions, AI-powered cutting-edge self-service learning experience platforms, coaching applications, and virtual reality technologies.

Organizations must set their learning and development (L&D) function to expand their role in supporting employees’ expectations for a more human-centric employee experience. However, Gartner research shows that only 45 percent of employees agree the learning their organization provides is relevant to them. Clearly, L&D offerings are not keeping up with the pace of change. HR leaders must shift their L&D investments towards whole career growth rather than focusing solely on current or future roles to tackle this challenge and meet employee expectations. They must think more broadly about the growth that helps employees develop as professionals as well as people. Companies also need to invest more in employee recognition and rewards.

However, when this layoff summer cools down, it goes without saying that employees would still want jobs. Still, just their choice to stick around doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly going to be an ideally engaged, highly motivated workforce. Employers must win their trust back. Companies will have to show more recognition – for the financial challenges employees face, for the changing role that work plays in people’s lives, and simply for a job well done to reverse the years-long trend of decreasing employee engagement.