Lessons to be Learned from the Big Tech Layoffs

by | Last updated Jul 17, 2023 | 0 comments

The technology sector has witnessed explosive growth across the globe over the last few years. Ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, the sector capitalised on the wave of change resulting from the various tech adjustments that needed to be made to navigate the crisis. As daily life moved to online services, numerous global tech organisations doubled their numbers of new hires to keep up with the surging demand that the pandemic presented. The result was recruitment at an unprecedented rate. Global tech CEOs were optimistic as this new wave of digital transformation that swept across the industry and the world.

The technology sector has predominantly been a growth-oriented and resilient sector. However, macroeconomic volatility, inflation, fears of a recession and a pull back on spend on advertisements has forced several industry tech giants such as Microsoft, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Meta to shed their talent and rethink their strategic decisions and key priorities in the wake of a slowed economy.

Opportunities and advances in Africa

While a number of organisations in the industry have not made announcements to layoff talent, many have instead put a freeze on hiring. It has been reported that approximately 200,000 individuals have lost their positions, translating to approximately 51,000 jobs. It is expected that these layoffs may affect their operations in Africa, but the extent is not yet fully known. Pundits assert that Africa is set to be the next global technology centre, reflected by the number of tech hubs being established across the continent. These hubs are driving innovation, boosting Africa’s socioeconomic potential and moving the continent towards economic sustainability.

In a recent survey conducted by Cedar Africa Group, with respondents from across various sectors, such as financial services, energy and the public sector, the rate of digital transformation in 2023 is expected to increase across most organisations. This is as companies seek to maintain or create a competitive edge to drive growth, value and improve efficiencies. There is, therefore, a high need for tech talent in the continent, creating a hyper-competitive environment for individuals in this space.

This high demand for labour has created a shifted power dynamic between talent and employers, with talent in a very strong position. However, with the onset of these big tech layoffs, power is likely to shift back to employers, as the talent pool swells once more.

The last few years have seen larger global tech giants pitted against start-ups and smaller local organisations across the world all scouting in the same talent pools. Start-ups and local companies have generally been priced-out.

Whilst this war for talent seemed to have been lost by the smaller players, the onset of these layoffs and the changing landscape may now present strategic opportunities for organisations globally, but particularly in Africa. As fresh talent spills into the market, start-ups and local companies will have the opportunity to tap into talent needed to help them thrive and succeed.

The secret to attracting and retaining talent

The key for organisations seeking to attract this newly available talent is having a clear value proposition that strongly positions them for successful talent acquisition and retention. An employer value proposition is a clear demonstration of why an employee should consider one organisation over another.

Despite available talent, the market still remains competitive and so organisations need to stand out. A unique value proposition extends beyond compensation but encompasses several factors, such as organisational values, culture, work environment, a sense of purpose and meaning in work, flexibility and career growth opportunities. Organisations looking to attract tech talent need a good understanding of what those in the job pool see as valuable and desirable in an employer and should seek to align their talent practices to match these needs.

Smarter hiring and stronger retention

With the new availability of talent, firms can learn from the mistakes from the large tech giants, avoiding hiring sprees that would lead them down the same path. A planned, measured and sustainable approach to recruiting is the wisest course.

Similarly, a strategic approach to nurture and develop new hires is the secret to keeping them. Organisations do not want to fall into a hiring-firing cycle, as it is much more costly. Tactically hiring and then retaining the talent is not only smarter financially, but also results in a more loyal and motivated workforce.

Wise and steady wins this race

There are significant opportunities for the taking but also mistakes to be learned from. A calculated and somewhat cautious approach is important, as work continues to evolve, becoming increasingly virtual, and as the geopolitical landscape remains uncertain. There are certainly gains to be made for those who snap up available talent, but easy does it.

Nyawera Kibuka offers strategic leadership, serving as CEO of Cedar Africa Group. She is passionate about service and helping organizations achieve their desired outcomes from changes of all kinds, including digital transformation.


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