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How We Handled Recent Layoffs In Tech
What we learned from this year's layoffs in tech as a business that recruits software talent.
The last three months were tough for us. Taking care of an abrupt layoff of 8 developers from our talent network took a lot of work—especially when going through some downsizing on our own.
Coworkers build strong bonds, but sadly, sometimes those are broken when you have to say goodbye to talented team players.
Hard times can teach you how to pick yourself up, but let’s face it, hard times suck. This is our story, failures and learnings.
The difficulties and how we faced them
The economic downturn affected all planning we had (and many other startups) for 2022. The scariest thing was that no one was safe; even some of the biggest companies in the world had let go of a massive amount of their employees.
Our budget ran out, so we had to let some people go if we intended to move forward with what was left of our planning.
We were developing a hiring platform, but when companies stopped hiring, we had to reassess our goals. Once we figured out a new strategy, we hired a project manager to ensure we kept our eyes on the ball.
What happened next may have been one of our biggest mistakes. We didn't have a thorough headcount plan. Our budget ran out, so we had to let some people go if we intended to move forward with what was left of our planning.
Coming to terms with having to lay someone off is never easy. We decided to keep players that allowed us to continue with our critical, down-to-the-core mission; and let go those responsible for goals that we were no longer pursuing. It was tough because some employees were working on projects canceled mid-way through the year.
Letting it sink in, making a decision and sharing bad news
If you have never had to fire someone, you don't know how stress-inducing it can be; it takes a toll on you. You tend to fear doing it because you feel you will hurt the person on the other end.
With our team members, we did our best to communicate properly and be compassionate at the forefront of our every move. We had face-to-face meetings to break the bad news because we wanted to be straight, but supportive.
We did the same with our community of developers and did our best to help each of them apply to other opportunities. If we can give you any advice, it would be to focus next on how you will move forward with your team after you've laid off their coworkers.
Avoiding Low Morale
Low morale is tricky. It could spread like poison to the rest of your workforce, and it requires transparency and trust (and time) to ease it. This is where leadership skills come in handy.
We restructured our bonus plan for new fun challenges to take place, socialize it with our team, and good feedback came in.
Low morale may affect how a team moves forward and can cause them to lose determination. Working closely with an HR person is useful to find ways to bring your team together. Open the door for new ideas and creativity to approach the changes your workforce is going through. We restructured our bonus plan for new fun challenges to take place, socialize it with our team, and good feedback came in.
Not losing it
Awana's CEO and co-founder, Calvin Sedao, apply valuable lessons from similar historical events about going through economic downturns.
“Put your ear on the ground; try to find out what the market dictates and how your finances can take you there. Don't overspend; you have to understand your financial situation. If you don't, you might lose more people than you thought.”
We're walking into new territory, and it feels scary, but the results we’re seeing show us that it's essential to try new things and not give up.
He also mentioned that startups need to look for their projections, critical revenue drives, and ROI for every business to move forward.
Awana changed its strategy focusing marketing efforts on different channels and audiences. We're walking into new territory, and it feels scary, but the results we’re seeing show us that it's essential to try new things and not give up.
Keeping busy is one of the best things you can do to keep your head high, and sometimes a few small steps are the start of something great. Don't lose hope.