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Whether you're a business or an individual how to use strategic PR during mass layoffs, quiet hiring

Muskaan Gupta, PR and Comms Professional

The year 2023 started off with a bang. With the corporate world quickly shifting gears from the 'Great Resignation' to quiet quitting and now to the newly emerging trend, quiet hiring, it seems as if the pandemic-fuelled distress is not over. 

According to the website layoffs.fyi, a total of 1,54,000 employees were laid off globally in 2022 and less than a month into 2023, more than 30,000 workers have lost their jobs worldwide as per a report by Livemint. 

The brunt has been borne by the tech industry at large, with 1,600 employees getting laid off each day on an average.

What lies behind these numbers, however, is not only the financial and mental hardships faced by people but also the grave economic world order we’ve gotten ourselves into. The brands that once used to enjoy their stature of being an employer of choice, now run a reputational risk. A strong and well-crafted PR strategy is what is then needed during these times, not only for companies to sustain their brand identity but for individuals to stay afloat and ensure career success in the future.

Clear, transparent, and humanized storytelling: The need of the hour for organizations

The role of PR professionals and communicators sits at the centre of bringing a sense of purpose to the mayhem caused by mass layoffs. 

Not only is there anguish from people but an information clutter in media due to internal/external rumours. The first step is to develop an effective internal communications strategy that provides clear and transparent messages to the employees while also adapting a humanized approach to deal with crises. Sharing a clear strategy, authentic data, having open and honest discussions, and displaying empathy and fairness of actions are some of the ways to reinstate trust and confidence in the organization.

The second leg is to build a robust external communications plan, which touches all layers of leadership. Since your critical stakeholders, including media, customers, partners, and investors need to know how the company plans to grow beyond this turbulent phase, having a multi-dimensional, 360° PR strategy becomes essential.

Developing AQ, networking and personal brand building: An imperative for individuals

More than companies, the turmoil caused by industry-wide layoffs is an opportunity for individuals to reflect upon their own potential and identify areas of growth and improvement for future-proofing their careers. 

As a recent survey by National Association for Business Economics (NABE) suggests, the current situation is only the tip of the iceberg with the risk of recession looming over the next year at 50 per cent or higher, which means more layoffs to come in 2023. In fact, Gartner’s recent report shows how Quiet Hiring is emerging as the popular workplace trend, with companies strategically assessing the talent they have available within the organization, investing in their skilling, reskilling & upskilling and making trade-offs on where talent is most needed, thereby effectively reducing headcount.

Consequently, individuals will need to conquer the following three aspects to help them navigate the uncertain job market: Developing their AQ (Adversity Quotient), which is the ability of an individual to think, manage, direct, and endure challenges. Second, invest in networking to build meaningful connections, enhance knowledge, and explore potential career avenues, and third, focus on personal brand building as a way to showcase one’s talent and gain a competitive edge in the job market.

The pursuit of happiness: A year of endurance for the corporate world?

In midst of a competitive talent landscape, an exhausted workforce, and a pressure to control costs, 2023 has caution written all over it. However, what will matter is the way in which organizations and employees take on this challenge and try to make the best out of it. 

More than ever, this is a wake-up call for companies to cultivate a strong, long-term vision and make sound business decisions based on facts, figures, and realistic projections. 

At the same time, professionals need to do away with traditional resume optimization, job hunt etc. and instead invest in continuous upskilling, networking, and personal brand building to put their best foot forward.

While the future is uncertain, the opportunities and talent we have is enormous and channelizing one’s energy and resources in the right way will hopefully bring brighter days ahead.

Muskaan Gupta is a PR, Marketing and corporate communications professional.

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