Layoffs and recession fears in the tech sector affecting employee morale

In recent months Canadian-based technology companies have downsized, trimming large portions of their staff. 

At the end of July, e-commerce company Shopify laid off 10 per cent of its staff, citing the fact that the company was facing a slowdown due to COVID-19 restrictions loosening. 

Similarly, early in August, Hootsuite announced it would be laying off 30 per cent of its staff. 

The list goes on, with companies such as Clearco, Article, and Unbounce all making cuts to their staff. In fact, according to an article from Tech Talent, over 400 tech firms in North America have laid off staff this year. 

Data from professional social network Blind revealed that only nine per cent of tech workers in North America currently feel confident in their job security. Additionally, three-quarters of professionals are concerned about a possible economic recession

James Rockwood CEO of CapIntel

“Tech in general saw a big decline in valuation after Q4. What that means is if you have a valuation and you have a decline, it means that companies need to be more cash efficient, and more profitable to sustain the same value,” said James Rockwood, chief executive officer of CapIntel, a sales platform for financial advisors and asset management sales teams. “Given that you can’t necessarily prioritize growth as much, it means you’ll need to reduce your spending in general. And in tech, people are typically the majority of the cost base.”

Rockwood added that other elements such as record low unemployment, with wages rising at the same time, have contributed to the layoffs happening at the moment. 

Tech workers who have been laid off are definitely feeling doubtful about their job prospects, as data from Blind revealed, but it’s not just the workers who have lost their jobs that are in a difficult place. 

Hiring freezes at major tech companies have also led to demanding workloads and long working hours for employees left behind. Workers in these affected companies are at high risk of burnout.

“It’s obviously a really difficult time in the tech industry right now…and that stress of the current macroeconomic climate weighs on employees,” said Natalie Archibald, vice president of Employee Success at Clio, a British Columbia based legal practice management software company. 

Natalie Archibald VP of Employee Success at Clio

Archibald noted that communication between employees and managers can help stop this added burnout for many tech workers. 

“There’s kind of like two areas of responsibility that I see. So the first is the employee’s responsibility to ask for what they need and to actively utilize the support mechanisms in place and be able to self-serve as needed,” she said. “But there’s also the manager’s responsibility to check in when an employee has identified that maybe things are feeling too much or that they might need to attend to their personal wellbeing, while making sure that they’re creating a culture of compassion and care,” she said. 

And for tech workers who are struggling with job loss, Archibald emphasized the importance of networking within the tech industry.

“The recession won’t last forever. None of them do. So sort of coming back to that reminder that this is all impermanent and this is a wave that we need to ride and this too shall pass. But I think when in doubt, utilize the network around you.”

Rockwood echoed that sentiment, saying that while it may be a difficult time to work in the tech industry, opportunities will always be available. 

“I think there’s still a ton of job opportunities out there right now, obviously, with remote working, and early in the pandemic a lot of American companies were hiring in Canada,” he said. 

He noted that startups and new companies are always coming up in the tech sector and people will be looking for workers to fill positions. 

While several other Canadian companies are downsizing, CapIntel is in growth mode. The company is looking to hire 150 employees in the next two years. 

“We’re building out some of the really good supporting roles like finance, talent, and business operations. We’ve got a ton of roles open in go-to-market, a couple of big ones too [like] head of marketing and head of customer value, which is awesome… I think we’re seeing some roles open in design and product ownership right now,” Rockwood said. 

“I think there’s still a ton of incredible opportunities and I think people should continue to pursue and look for work in the tech industry. It is one of those things that has at least seen cyclicality, and it follows trends to a degree. It can grow like nobody else and it will taper as well. So there’s a bit of volatility in tech generally,” he added. “So I think it’s potentially some short term pain, but I think if you look around there’s still opportunities there.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at [email protected]

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