Up and Down: Thrive HR Helps Businesses Navigate the Market’s Mixed Signals

Amid varied and conflicting economic headlines, Thrive HR offers experienced counsel and on-demand management for executive teams needing to navigate today’s turbulent environment

U.S. unemployment is holding steady at levels nearly matching late 2019. Economic activity stands at a multi-decade high. By certain metrics, the country is doing great, and many organizations’ profits and hiring reflect that. At the same time, inflation and consumer price spikes have launched to 1980s-era levels. Quit rates remain incredibly high, especially in the South, and cross-industry layoff announcements reflect the realities of 2022’s bear market. Such clashing signals and statistics can make HR decisions around talent remarkably complex and confusing. Companies lacking HR staff with experience in such economic conditions may find themselves paralyzed by indecision or prone to taking unwise actions. Thrive HR Consulting , a fractional CHRO and HR services specialist, has decades of staffing experience in all manner of markets. Thrive HR now brings this expertise to businesses of every size across a range of service options.

How to Wade Through “Interesting” Times

As mentioned earlier, the market has soured for some companies, with many across the country announcing layoffs. Thrive HR knows through direct experience and observation that there are right and wrong ways for companies to conduct downsizing and/or restructuring. In a clear example of the latter, mortgage company Better.com infamously conducted its first layoff round in December 2021, with the CEO firing 900 employees via a single group Zoom call. The tone deafness of the affair blew up on social media, leading to the CEO making a public apology.
Leading crypto exchange Coinbase made similar headlines when it went from a pedal-to-the-metal hiring spree to a hiring freeze (and subsequent layoffs of 18% of its workforce) seemingly overnight. This included rescinding hiring offers after specifically promising not to rescind such offers. Screen caps of the damning emails quickly made the rounds on Twitter.

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Clearly, these are the wrong ways to go about layoffs when facing economic setbacks. In contrast, Thrive HR suggests four principles all companies should keep in mind when downsizing:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Exercise empathy
  • Preserve workers’ dignity
  • Preserve the company’s upstanding brand

“When organizations encounter a crisis, they tend to throw these qualities out the window,” says Thrive HR lead Reynaldo Ramirez. “They become reactive and do these knee-jerk reactions that damage their reputations. Laying off a thousand people requires a lot of planning, from selection criteria to regulatory compliance. You have to lay people off correctly, or be prepared for the consequences.”

What are some best practices when confronted with the inevitable unpleasantness of letting staff go? Thrive HR recommends allowing workers a phase-out period, largely to help avoid sudden breaks with social connections. The abrupt practice of having one’s access badge turned off and being escorted from the building with a box of belongings can no longer be standard practice. Workers need to be treated as professionals, with a week or two of building and email account access, at the least.

Treating people well preserves the company’s brand and reputation. According to Thrive HR, every downsized company should hope to have ex-workers who say, “That was the best company that ever laid me off.”

Thrive HR still sees high demand for technical talent, such as software developers, across the market. Similarly, “blue-collar” roles, such truck drivers, remain in exceptionally high demand as supply chain services continue to struggle. On the other hand, mid-level management, accountants, facilities staff, and similar roles are encountering more pressure.

“This is a strange, split-personality market,” says Thrive HR lead Jason Walker. “We have clients going through their first reductions and others doing a lot of hiring. At Thrive, we have a ridiculous amount of experience with corporate restructuring and some proprietary methods for finding and hiring talent that give us a strong edge. No matter which way a company is going right now, this market is an opportunity to find really, really good people and make them happy and loyal.”

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Better.com learned its lesson and has gone through at least two more layoff rounds without additional public outcry. Multiple layoff rounds are common in turbulent market conditions and offer their own opportunities, according to Thrive HR. First-round layoffs typically hit the easiest targets, the lowest-value employees or those who might have already been exhibiting issues. By the third or fourth round, though, companies are biting into high-value talent and become prime targets for competitors. Like prime real estate, Thrive HR has methods for finding such talent and helping businesses acquire them before they reach the open market — even before those workers have been laid off and remain gainfully employed.

Thrive HR does far more than headhunting and downsizing counseling services. The company is ideally positioned for difficult economic times because it’s core business is serving as a fractional HR resource. Rather than maintain six-figure, full-time HR staff, organizations can hire Thrive HR to serve in any and all HR roles, on-site or remotely, on a flat rate for optimal cost efficiency.

“We have services for good times,” says Jason Walker, “and we have services for bad times. We understand this market because we’ve been through this before. We get it. When you need help, we’re available.”

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]