Are You Prepared if the Tech Boom Wavers?


International markets are rumbling of late, exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak in China and doubts about whether the government is being transparent about the extent of the contagion. And while tech has been relatively resilient as markets respond to shifting signals, a set of layoffs are expanding across the industry — leading some to wonder whether the boom may be wavering.

In recent weeks, a few leading companies have announced they are letting people go, a move that seems out of step with the robust hiring competition that has defined recruiting in tech.

To start, genetic testing and ancestry company 23andMe saidOpens a new window it was laying off 100 workers amid declining demand for at-home genetic testing kits.

Question-and-answer forum website Quora also announced layoffs, although in a public postOpens a new window  chief executive Adam D’Angelo didn’t specify how many staffers would lose their jobs.

Some have pointed to the disastrous WeWork IPO and the fallout in terms of its valuationOpens a new window . WeWork’s failure wasn’t just a collapse in confidence in the start-up’s leadershipOpens a new window , although that played an important role. Preceded by disappointing IPOs from Uber and Lyft, jitters in the market could be more than superficial.

If investors start to lose faith in the promise of tech to disrupt and reinvent every industry — or at least in the profitability of doing so — there could be more significant fallouts in the pipeline.

Whether the jitters turn into something bigger or not, there are ways to prepare for a potentially soft market that won’t have a significant impact on current operations. Consider these options:

Implement flexible work

Even if you have thought about implementing a flexible work option (after all, there is a lot to recommend itOpens a new window ), you might be wondering over the connection with girding for a soft market.

As you give more opportunities for employees to set their own schedules, pose the option of converting to part-time in some capacity. Flex-time does not mean part-time, of course, but some employees may find that they enjoy spending more time on other projects as they spend more time outside of the office.

Although you might not want to take that route at the moment, opening the door to the conversation now will make it more natural if the situation requires it down the road.

Incorporate more questions into your evaluations

Effective reviews and evaluations should always look more like conversationsOpens a new window than lectures. You want to ask employees questions in their reviews to create a natural give-and-take in the session.

But if you’re anticipating a softening of the market, this is the time to take special advantage of the discussion to drill down on employee ambitions and goals.

If the conversation is frank and open, you may be surprised to find that some people want to scale back. Barring that decision, you’ll know whose long-terms visions fit best with the long-terms goals of the company.

Watch out for talent

A soft market is always a good time to recruit new talent, if you’re in a position to do so. When other companies are facing declining profits, they may be forced to say goodbye to some of their most promising new recruits.

Keeping a close eye on the companies announcing layoffs and who is looking for new opportunities could give you an edge in snapping up your next stellar employee.