• January 25, 2024

The Great, Quiet Talent Paradox of 2023

Billy Wilcosky

I’m still dreaming of sugar plum fairies, presents, pine-scented candles, fireworks, sleep, and everything else that this past holiday season bestowed upon me. It’s a little too early to try and make even a semi-accurate guess about how hiring in 2024 will be. But, I do know that happenings of the past tend to linger a little bit. So, to begin to guess 2024 trends all one has to do is think about the Great, Quiet Talent Paradox.

First of all, it’s important to point out that I’m purposely and ironically using “great, quiet” and associating 2023 with what I think is a catchy phrase. Because that was also a big part of 2023 (and 2022). The desire to attach “great” or “quiet” to another word or two to describe what’s going on in the business world. You had the Great Resignation, and then Quiet Quitting. After that, you had all kinds of new “great” and “quiet” things. I hope we don’t see these shock-jock, propaganda-type headlines in 2024. But, I doubt it. People want clicks. Propagandistic headlines equal clicks and likes.

That was a bit of a tangent to explain the title of this post. Everyone knows all amazing blog posts start with the author explaining the title. So, there you go.

What was the Great, Quiet Talent Paradox? I’m glad I asked…

In 2023, the tech industry experienced a significant number of layoffs, with over 150,000 technology workers being laid off in the US alone. Despite this, there was also a growing demand for tech talent, leading to a shortage in the market. The layoffs, coupled with the increasing demand for skilled workers, created a challenging environment for companies. The Great Resignation and the ongoing trend of employees transitioning to different roles and industries further exacerbated the talent shortage. As a result, companies faced difficulties in finding people with highly sought-after skills, such as system architects, cybersecurity specialists, and those requiring AI expertise (Deloitte). The imbalance between the supply and demand of tech talent has made it challenging for companies to fill senior technical roles and retain specialized workers (Deloitte). Therefore, while layoffs occurred in 2023 (and were all over the news and social media), the tech industry also grappled with a shortage of skilled talent, making it difficult for companies to find the expertise they needed (Technology Review).

Hence, some kind of paradox. You had companies laying off employees, yet wondering where the employees were/are to hire.

What does this mean for 2024? I don’t know. But, I will throw something out there and hope it sticks for the good of humanity.

Hopefully, 2024 will not have mass layoffs. Because if investors and executives look at the negative, very fast spreading social media/news posts that happen afterwards, coupled with how expensive it is to hunt, hire, train, and grow, I would think that a decent prediction for this year is that layoffs slow or stop.

Hiring isn’t free. There’s the recruiting, equipment, training, onboarding, and various other costs. Then there are somewhat hidden costs, or costs that might happen, especially if you find out you made the wrong hire. That’s nothing to shake a stick at, but I want to talk about the other, possibly more long term cost of layoffs. The damage to your brand. Perhaps 2024 will be the Great Branding, or Quiet Branding year?

Layoffs can significantly damage a company’s brand and reputation. The manner in which layoffs are conducted can impact both employees’ and the public’s perception of the company. Research has shown that layoffs have a detrimental effect on corporate performance, leading to bad publicity, loss of knowledge, weakened engagement, higher voluntary turnover, and lower innovation, all of which can hurt profits in the long run (HBR). When layoffs occur, the public perception of the company can be damaged, leading to decreased employee morale, productivity, and loyalty, as well as potential negative reviews on platforms such as Glassdoor (Forbes). It’s essential for companies to maintain empathy, transparency, and a constructive employer brand during layoffs to mitigate the potential long-term damage (Forbes).

So, who knows? Perhaps a 2024 Talent Acquisition trend will be rebuilding employer brands. It should be a trend every year. Because even without layoffs sometimes employer brands are a little weak. No offense! But, everyone should strive for that early 2000s Google brand. The kind of brand that made every Computer Science major dream nightly about even the slightest chance of getting an internship. Heck, I dreamt of a Google internship and I wasn’t even a computer major. Don’t let investors (or whoever has pushed things in the opposite direction) destroy that dream. Bring back the brand of dreams and stop creating weird paradoxes. Or, don’t. Paradoxes are neat.

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