‘Big Tech’ has hit a turning point, evidenced by many major players forced to lay off workers after the post-pandemic hiring boom earlier this year. Companies like Meta, Uber, Netflix, and Cameo are clamping down on employee costs and experiencing a hiring freeze as layoffs accelerate.
A Marketwatch report said it’s been the slowest few weeks the IPO market has seen in six years. In March, inflation rose to a 40-year high at 8.5%. Amidst the recent volatility, the number of tech jobs is expected to grow in the next decade. For companies with stable hiring patterns, employee communications may not be the top priority, but in the context of broader industry trends, the opposite couldn’t be more accurate.
Your employees are well-resourced and informed. You should know they’re paying attention to the trends in the industry. Even if they are not immediately affected, they are likely anxious and may be thinking, “what about me?”
Regardless of the specific challenges your organization is facing in this current market, there are some strategies we can all employ to create stability for our people:
Utilize Person-Centered Communication
“Companies must over-communicate at times like these”
A company’s leadership has to access its emotional intelligence and establish an employee-first mindset. Especially in larger companies, employees don’t have visibility into the decision-making level that senior leaders are privy to. This information gap can cause a breach of trust between employees and their employers, leading to workforce instability and regrettable attrition. We can work to avoid this by establishing psychological safety, which serves as the foundation for trust. As a leader, I always ask, “how can I create a foundation of trust for my teams?” One of the tools successful leaders can employ is to over-communicate during uncertain times.
We can quickly earn our employees’ trust when we equip them with clear, concise information about what’s happening at the company. It’s a great time for the executive team to work in tandem with HR professionals to communicate the industry trends, how the company is addressing the current climate, and share messages of hope and perseverance. Leaders should employ vulnerability and be transparent about their business’ health metrics with employees.
If your company has to make difficult decisions, equip people with the rationale as to why, the thought process you engaged in when landing at the decision, and the value you placed on employees throughout that process. Don’t be afraid to share how the decision has personally impacted you as a leader and what you’re doing to ensure that people feel valued. It’s not just the amount of communication that matters, it’s the quality of that communication. Exhibiting authenticity and emotional intelligence goes a long way.
As humans, we create stories or assumptions when we don’t have facts or truth. Leaders should understand that employees will make assumptions without clear facts. We can avoid this spin by engaging in transparent, consistent, and authentic communication, which is essential in providing people with a sense of psychological safety.
Strengthen your Foundations
Trusting your employer also comes from knowing your company has a solid and reliable foundation to endure through times of market instability. As leaders, we can use these times of market instability to ensure our foundations are rock solid and will allow us to not only survive but thrive once the market improves.
For example: ensuring the processes, structure, and systems implemented during a time of rapid growth have evolved to meet the needs of a scaling workforce. Have a system that needs to be improved? Now’s the time. Have an overly manual process? Create the space to systematize. Living with an outdated org structure? Now maybe the time to re-design. These are often the things that get de-prioritized during rapid hiring and growth and can add to feelings of instability for employees. Investing the time and energy into our foundations builds organizational endurance through changing market conditions.
This is what drives leadership at Clio. We want to be a hundred-year-plus company with an enduring legacy to transform the systems that we work within. We have scaled our company through an unprecedented time of uncertainty and as a result, we believe it’s critical to make business decisions that will allow us to control our destiny. We’re not here for the quick wins. We’re here for enduring stability and impact.
Reconnect with your Mission
As the world experiences market volatility and business insolvency surges, at Clio, we know our customers (lawyers) are experiencing this too. We aim to provide them with the security to focus on doing their best work. Clio is transforming the legal system for all. As industry leaders in legal technology, we are equipping lawyers with low-barrier, affordable solutions they need to run and grow their firms. Our employees feel they are playing a significant part in creating an accessible and equitable justice system for all.
During times of instability, reignite your employees’ connection with your mission. Re-emphasize the message of your “why.” People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, knowing they are making a positive social change. It brings a sense of excitement and commitment to the work that helps them move beyond the day-to-day challenges. Whether it’s a front-line customer service or sales representative or a team member in a support role, every single employee plays a role in contributing to your company’s (and customers!) success. Provide that clarity for your teams if they need it. I always look at these times as an opportunity because, as leaders, we have the power to be a positive and stabilizing force for both our employees and our industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natalie Archibald, VP of People, Clio
Natalie is the Vice President of People (Employee Success) at Clio -Cloud-Based Legal Technology. An experienced people and culture leader, registered clinical counselor, and leadership coach, Natalie brings a unique perspective from her time in the public sector within the justice and healthcare systems. Natalie is passionate about making our workplaces and communities successful, collaborative, and equitable. Outside of work, you can find her out on a run, wrangling her two young children, cooking something delicious in the kitchen, or blasting ’90s hip hop.