Is your workforce made of freelancers? Are freelancers taking your jobs? Imagine 2027 and your Managing Director is a freelancer.
Given how drastically the work and workplace context is changing, and how 'uncertainty' has become the new 'certainty,' leaders and organisations must fully internalise a culture of agility and adaptability.
Where is this pool of freelancers coming from?
Can freelancers take up Leadership Positions?
Layoffs are back
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Aprajita Sud, Head of HR Function, Indiagroup says “With mass layoffs, there is a pool of really talented people. These are not people who are not performing well, they were let go because of poor decisions by organisations. HRs and Organisations need to strategise on how to utilize this market. I think it's a progressive move if I have to save our money and get the best talent”
Kavita Siddiqui, Vice President HR, Magnon Group says “We have seen that when the great resignation started across the globe, the market opened up to people asking for huge hikes. So, retaining talent at that point in time became extremely difficult. There are multiple ways to retain talent, the easiest way was to give a hike but is that how a company wants to operate? No, because you increase the cost, your profitability decreases. This is when flexibility came into the picture, especially for early-stage professionals, who don’t want to do a nine-to-six kind of job but would want flexibility in the time that they can start the work. The future of work is now joining the workforce, and we need to keep them happy. They want to freelance, they want flexibility”
Aprajita further mentions “Employers should be open to working with freelancers as they can bring expertise and talent without the commitment of a full-time role. This could help employers reduce costs and get the job done quickly. It’s a bigger advantage for companies than the freelancers”
Kavita mentions that “For organisations. freelancing depends from profile to profile. Honestly speaking, all the profiles, especially in leadership, hiring cannot be freelancers or they cannot be consultants because one of the biggest challenges that we see with freelancers is commitment, and being in the service industry, keeping your clients happy is very important. So timeline and deliveries cannot be compromised. Quality cannot be compromised. So depending on the profile to profile, you know, you can pick where a full-time employee will work or where a freelancer will work. I would say a mix of both. You know, Freelancer as well as an FTE is always a healthy mix for any organization and in a longer run, run also, you know, it helps the organization to meet larger goals.”
Aprajita says “It seems that bringing in a senior-level consultant for a limited period of time may be beneficial for the organization in order to make changes and manage them effectively. However, we need to keep in mind privacy and security issues. It is important for organizations to ensure that their employment contracts are legally strong and have clear clauses to protect the organization from any potential risks. It is also important to be transparent and fair with freelancers and consultants about the terms of the contract.
It is important for organizations to be flexible and accept the need for timelines and deliverables, as well as the need for freelancers and consultants. They need to understand freelancers are not full-time employees and will have 2-3 projects in hand. I would not want to bring anybody to a leadership position as a consultant because then the accountability is a lot higher as compared.”
Freelancers can provide a particular set of skills but maintaining a company culture with freelancers is a challenge. Full-time employees care about the company’s mission but freelancers are here for a while and their focus is just the project at hand. Hiring is now borderless, freelancers can be onboarded faster than full-time employees, and can help companies reach new talent pools. For an employer, freelancing is a transactional and short-term relationship. Thus, it is challenging to build high levels of trust with the employee and expect loyalty and commitment from him or her. But, in the coming years, the ecosystem will evolve and get stronger. Let’s wait and watch.
Google: 12,000 (1 in 16 employees)
Microsoft: 10,000 (1 in 20)
Amazon: 18,000 (1 in 8)
That is the number of employees laid off last week. 16.5 years of your life and all you get is an automated email. Justin Moore, the engineer who was laid off after 16.5 years at Google said in his post “This also just drives home that work is not your life, and employers -- especially big, faceless ones like Google -- see you as 100% disposable. Live life, not work.”
As an employee, it is important to remember that you are valuable and your worth is more than a job title. We often attach our identities to the work we do. We’re working 8-10 hours a day and spending more time at work than anywhere else.
Can you imagine your employer is going to tell you whether you still have a job or not at a specific time tomorrow, but you need to check your spam folder for it because it might just be there?
Sumit Singla on Google Layoffs
So, you're saying that a company that has been growing its headcount by ~20% annually can't have personal conversations to 'de-grow' the headcount?
There's no such thing as a "nice" layoff. A person is asked to revamp their whole life, to start looking for a new job, worry about why it was them and not somebody else, feel unjustly treated, imposter syndrome kicks in and there is so much trauma involved. Most people who have been laid off never forget how it made them feel, never forget the day, the organization, and the boss, and may always hold a grudge. Whatever a company tries to do, it will never be enough, but at least we can try to do better.
Be empathetic - “Layoffs are definitely a business decision. But communication should be a human decision” Says Kriti Dugar who went ahead to rewrite Twitter’s layoff email.
You need to respect the person and let them go with dignity. Maya Angelou rightly said, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Make most business data critical points- Lay out historical reasons and facts to identify and explain why the layoffs are happening, what went wrong, and where. Tell them how you fell short of targets, the predictions didn't go well, or whatever the business reason is. Be honest and transparent.
Take the blame- Don’t leave people thinking that it was their fault. Taking a more humane approach not only reduces survivor guilt, but also improves morale and productivity, and makes those let go feel cared for. Companies should explain why an employee is being let go in their termination notice, such as: due to slow business, department closures, mergers and acquisitions, COVID-19, and so on. Employers should offer to write a recommendation letter for employees.
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