It’s, unfortunately, mass layoff season. If you’re an employer facing the tough decision, you’re not alone. Twitter’s axing of at least half its workforce is about as extreme as it gets, but dozens of other big brands are cutting workers: Meta (Facebook) just cut 13% of its workforce in its very first mass layoff, real estate firm RedFin is also slashing its workforce by 13%, and Peloton is back at it, recently laying off another 12% of its workers (after a 20% layoff last February).
“Even traditionally layoff-resistant companies like Netflix have made cuts, and now companies that saw a pandemic-era boom, like Shopify, are cutting hundreds of jobs,” Business Insider reports.
The writing was on the wall by August, according to a PwC survey of 722 U.S. executives. The survey found that 50% of executives anticipated a reduction in overall headcount in the next 12 months, while 52% foresaw instituting a hiring freeze and 44% expected to rescind job offers during that time.
CNBC calls it the new era of “loud layoffs” following the period of “quiet quitting.” Small businesses are affected, too. By August, 63% of small businesses had stopped hiring, and 10% had started layoffs.
But we’re in volatile times, which means that a mass layoff one day could be followed by a hiring campaign the next. When hiring after a mass layoff, there are both legal and ethical considerations to be made. Be sure to consult legal and HR about considerations like:
General rules and regulations: If you conduct a true mass layoff of 50 employees or more, you need to consider federal regulations like the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act (yes, even in work-at-will Texas). WARN requires employers to provide notice of plant closures or mass layoffs 60 days in advance. Also, take care that your layoff will not be seen as a violation of protected rights, including for older workers and those with disabilities.
A process for termination: While the “big guys” get roasted publicly about it, small businesses can be especially guilty of conducting layoffs in a manner that’s painful for all involved. The reason is usually due to the lack of a consistent process. Take a look at Monster’s advice for ideas on how to lay off employees in the best way possible.
How to avoid it happening again: Before pulling the trigger on hiring again, it’s essential to identify and mitigate the conditions that brought you to a mass layoff in the first place. HR firm Insperity offers tips on how to do that, including improving your operational roadmap, which The HT Group can help you accomplish.
Hiring and firing simultaneously: Even small businesses do it, which is why Business News Daily published some tips on the subject, including a general rule of thumb to wait at least six months before rehiring for any position that was frozen or eliminated. What about rehiring the same workers you laid off? Zenefits offers tips in that area. You’ll want to carefully consider parameters around reinstating with or without the employee’s previous seniority and benefits.
Time is of the essence for H-1B workers: “The recent wave of reductions is having an outsized impact on skilled workers who are living in the U.S. on temporary visas and are at risk of being sent home if they can’t secure a new job in short order,” points out CNBC. To avoid being deported, workers on temporary visas often have 60 to 90 days to find a new job. For these H-1B workers, being rehired quickly is imperative.
Adjusting your talent acquisition strategy: Is it time for temporary, temp-to-hire, or contract workers? It’s vital at this point to think outside the box and consider employment arrangements that could save you from facing a mass layoff again in the near future. Studies have shown that temp employment has been an important tool for enhancing labor flexibility during economic uncertainty.
The positions you cut could affect your ability to rehire: According to research, recruiters are often the first to go in mass layoff situations. It’s been found that some layoffs are also undermining diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) headways. That means the road back to hiring could be extra bumpy. You may need recruiting and consulting resources you haven’t needed to use in the past.
A mass layoff may seem like a “cut” and dry situation, but we employers know that it’s complicated and heart-wrenching for both sides. You want to hire again as swiftly as you can—and you should—but take some care and consideration when you do.