back to article Tech hiring freeze doesn't mean people won't leave

What goes up must come down - even in the tech industry.  In a period of a little more than a month, the biggest tech companies have dropped trillions of  dollars in valuation, setting off alarm bells across the industry. Recovering from this downturn will be different, though: Businesses will have to walk a fine line between …

  1. MiguelC Silver badge

    Musk's problem with working from home is that remote workers don't need to purchase Teslas...

    1. Ashto5 Bronze badge

      Spot On

      You nailed it there

      The only people demanding you back in the office are the ones who cannot sell you something unless you out of your home.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Spot On

        Not entirely. They also include the frustrated micro-managers who can't stand not having people to bully.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Spot On

          They still micro-manage, only now it's "you were offline in Teams when you should have been online"

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Spot On

            They'll only ever believe they're working of they can seen them sitting in the office.

          2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Spot On

            Usually "do I deliver on time?" shuts them down and if they continue to be difficult, a meeting with HR and building a case for constructive dismissal gets them moved.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Spot On

              Some companies just don't want workers to be remote. If you aren't in the office, you aren't at your job.

              One CEO (of a tech company) is rumored to have said "I won't pay people to sit at home and **** off on company time." He cancelled most of the remote access that existed even before the pandemic, to remove any doubt.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Spot On

                Is Elon really being a 'MUSK' (new 4 letter word) or is this a clever redundancy plan that is cheap and doesn't worry Wall St ?

              2. Alpharious

                Re: Spot On

                I am waiting for when the productivity dies off, because they now sit around and fuck around in the office. Never underestimate how stupid the business planners are. Not only are they going to disrupt the current productivity with returns to office, they are going to piss money away on overhead, instead of cutting costs, they are going to shrink their labor pool, instead of expanding it, and they are going to be destroyed by the recovery, instead of recovering. Andrew Melon was a big fan of stupid companies paying for their stupidity. He is probably laughing from his grave as I type this up.

  2. Ashto5 Bronze badge

    Does not matter

    The ONLY issue for IT roles

    If Rishi Sunak insists his father in laws Indian workers must be allowed UK visas

    That will kill the market.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Does not matter

      Here's your coat, the Daily Mail is that way -------->

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Does not matter

        The Daily Mail has nothing to do with it.

        The UK was a global leader in computing, then the 8 bit machines inspired a whole generation that really built an IT industry.

        At which point it got outsourced to India, damaging the flow of new talent and reducing salaries.

        There's been since a continual pattern of offshoring and onshoring, but what's been consistent throughout are British IT jobs being taken by people either living in foreign countries, or people following their jobs back to the UK.

        The outcome is evident: A shortage of British IT talent, because everybody looks at the industry and realises they're going to be undercut by people from other countries, either there or here.

        That's _before_ you get the big foreign IT outsourcers looking introduce H1B type visas to the UK that let them ship over thousands of substandard workers who are nominally cheaper, depress salaries and cause more work for the competent people still in the industry.

        Why yes, I am bitter.

        1. keithpeter Silver badge

          Re: Does not matter

          Outsourcing/Offshoring is a 'slow P&O' as the whole trick is to move work to countries with lower wages. Ultimately, it will dawn on the Government that if everything that can be outsourced/offshored is, the tax base will shrink significantly.

          At that point, you can expect a sudden increase in regulation...

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Does not matter

          >The UK was a global leader in computing

          Yes, the Westminster government blew it and all those names disappeared only to reappear at notable US universities who went on to claim "firsts" in computing; only indication that these weren't US exclusive firsts were all the researchers with Bletchley Park on their CV...

          Since then the UK has been playing catchup; even more so in the 1980's when the UK (politicians and business leaders) refused to pay US levels of pay and whinged about the brain drain.

          Fast forward to 2022 and what do we have but a UK political establishment and 'business leaders' whinging about not being able to attract talent, expect them soon to start whinging about a new brain drain...

        3. Ken G Silver badge

          Re: Does not matter

          Don't worry, you've got Brexit now to conserve your British IT(tm) skills and stop people wandering off to work for Johnny Foreigner.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Does not matter

      It's actually Sunak's wife. His father in law moved onto doing other businesses, most recently with Jeff Bezos.

      Google their names around some Indian news sites, you'll find some juicy stuff.

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge

    The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x.

    Don't know if he actually said it as the linked page gives a 403 error.

    However, simplistic platitudes, even if they potentially have a kernel of truth, are of no real help. Why do these companies have twice the staff they "need"? What is it they're doing that is "unnecessary"? Google has whole swathes of people doing stuff that's never significantly going to affect their top line (i.e. unnecessary) and they encourage them to take time out from the unnecessary stuff they're supposed to be working on to work on stuff that's even more unnecessary. Unless you have a magic solution to identifying the potential value a priori, there's not much point complaining about it.

    It's rather like that old nostrum about advertising spend - half of it is wasted, but noone can figure out which half. I suspect a similar rule of thumb applies to speculative enterprise in general. I'm sure Andreessen can afford it, however much he might complain.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x.

      And if they didn't need them why did they recruit them?

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x.

        C. Northcote Parkinson answered that in 1942.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x.

        >And if they didn't need them why did they recruit them?

        1, To stop competitors recruiting them, or stop them starting a competitor. Generally accepted that this is why Microsoft runs Microsoft Research.

        2, It's very expensive and time consuming to recruit and onboard new staff. If you don't have a direct need for them for 6-12months it can still be economic to hire them and have them work on a side project. Companies used to do this by hiring into testing and then promoting to developer when demand picked up - now nobody any good will take a job in 'testing'

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x.

      Hiring is expensive and big corporations need capacity in case CEO has a fit and demands something to be built and managers don't want to be in a position to say "we cannot do that, we have no people" or they don't want to jeopardise the delivery of ongoing projects.

      Also taking away talented people off the market, make it harder for competition to find someone capable.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x.

      "Google has whole swathes of people doing stuff that's never significantly going to affect their top line (i.e. unnecessary) and they encourage them to take time out from the unnecessary stuff they're supposed to be working on to work on stuff that's even more unnecessary."

      I've always suspected that that is a small minority of Google staff. Devs probably. Everyone else, not so much. What "20% time, personal projects" might benefit Google coming from HR, Accounts, Sales, Marketing, Janitorial staff etc?

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x.

        I don't know how the 20% thing works, but if they are working with developers, these people know what their computers need to do better than at present, even if they don't know how to write the code to make it happen.

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      You're ignoring what he really meant

      He's telegraphing that if he and Musk take over Twitter, their plan to increase profitability will be to fire 75% of their workforce. You don't need content moderators if anything goes, and you don't need to worry about engineers programming new features when you no longer have to worry about any possibility of competition from the right wing alternatives like Gab and Trump's latest business failure.

  4. Shuki26

    What is really driving the media scaremongering?

    " the biggest tech companies have dropped trillions of dollars in valuation, setting off alarm bells across the industry."

    Have sales dropped by trillions of dollars to warrant layoffs and general anxiety or is this a case of media hype and wishful thinking? Google, Facebook, and Amazon certainly caused a lot of disruption by offering gobs of money to attract recruits, but the underlying challenges of the industry remain - shortage of stem workers and universities are not close to supplying the demand.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: What is really driving the media scaremongering?

      Interest rates rose, so the sharemarket dropped. I thought that was a pretty widely understood phenomenon, but apparently financial journalists have never heard of it.

  5. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Greedy giants

    Why would you want to work for these "giants" who aggressively avoid paying taxes, corrupt our political class and co-operate with WEF to build Feudalism 2.0?

    Unfotunately these corporation exist only because there are people willing to sell their soul and work for them. They don't care they make the world a much worse place as long as they have their pizza Fridays and they can chase the carrot working in a luxury office, dreaming that one day they get promoted and finally afford to move out from a pad shared with 8 others dreamers. Then they hit 40 and learn it will never happen because they are not born to a right family and they are just disposable cogs, replaced by new naive young blood.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Greedy giants

      corrupt our political class

      Impossible, politicians come pre-corrupted.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Greedy giants

        True, but didn't we elect them in the first place?

        If someone hands me two hammers I shouldn't blame THEM if I use them smack myself in the face.

        Or the hammers.

        These corrupt politicians should never have been elected in the first place, certainly not re-elected. Fire the bums, as the expression goes. They should arrive at their level of competence, in industries like used car sales and marketing.

        1. Steve K

          Re: Greedy giants

          In most US/UK elections you have a choice of 2 parties, and it’s all-or-nothing in terms of their policies.

          It’s not necessarily fair to blame the voters if it’s a binary choice….

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: Greedy giants

            Even when they keep picking the worst party?

  6. heyrick Silver badge

    Allow me to warm up a bag of microwave popcorn...

    Can't help but think that Tesla might have an "interesting" year ahead.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Allow me to warm up a bag of microwave popcorn...

      More stories like this to come...

      Recently got run over by a guy in a Tesla, thought he got away but:

      He’s currently being charged with battery now

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Allow me to warm up a bag of microwave popcorn...

        Gonna have to start charging for these jokes if they keep trickling in...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Allow me to warm up a bag of microwave popcorn...

          You'll need to amp it up if you want to stay current.

          1. Steve K

            Re: Allow me to warm up a bag of microwave popcorn...

            Maybe allow a Coulomb-off period?

            1. EarthDog

              Re: Allow me to warm up a bag of microwave popcorn...

              I don't think I have the capacity to take these jokes anymore.

              1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

                Re: Allow me to warm up a bag of microwave popcorn...

                Resistance is useless!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bean counters and analytics

    it is interesting these companies appear overstaffed yet if you queried the team members in any of their groups you would find they are understaffed and overworked

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: bean counters and analytics

      Logical conclusion - there are too many managers (so let's lay off some of the workers).

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: bean counters and analytics

        Probably too many back office people too, such as HR and accounts.

    2. Jilara

      Re: bean counters and analytics

      I have great respect for a former co-worker, the manager of QA. When told by his management he had to lay off the least productive member of his team, he laid himself off. His boss was not happy, but there you go.

      1. rnturn

        Re: bean counters and analytics

        A competitor undoubtedly picked up a good QA manager that day.

  8. Idiot Employee

    I’d have thought the last people you should listen to when it comes to hiring and firing is your investors. Presumably all they are interested in is short term profits and share price.

    1. frabbledeklatter

      Exactly the reason I quit a publicly held employer in 2007 and refuse to work for another. With IPO, the business model changes from producing excellent, well-supported products to making the numbers imposed by martet analyists. Those imposed numbers expect endless growth, even for mature products which produce consistent profits. Management does whatever damage needs to be done to the company to make the current period's numbers with no regard for long-term anything.

      The only thing which grows endlessly is a malignant tumor.

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    Hiring freeze?

    This is news to me as I see NO evidence at all in my region. My very large region.

    I'm not talking about just my field either. I get solicited all the time for a wide range of positions that are somewhat like mine. Many times every single day.

    What hiring freeze?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hiring freeze?

      The FAANMG gang's hiring freeze which is usually a revolving door, once you get in one of them you can get in any of the rest.

      It's almost as if they all suddenly decided they didn't like this WFH thing and came up with a way to do something about it, however the Great Resignation is all about discovering life outside corporate hell so it won't stop the inevitable.

  10. Cav Bronze badge

    "sectors that shrunk"

    The word is shrank.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Shrinkdid. Or shronked

    2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      The word is shrank.

      Not if you speak the USAian version of English.

      Past of dive is dove, not dived.

      Past of drag is drug, not dragged

      Past of fit is fit, not fitted

      Past of sneak is snuck, not sneaked

      Past of shrink is shrunk, not shrank

      They like their irregular verbs.

  11. DS999 Silver badge

    If there's any sort of hiring freeze right now

    It is companies that don't want to overpay when salaries are skyrocketing, knowing that this is a temporary thing that won't last. If you have to win a bidding war to hire someone today, you can't exactly cut their salary tomorrow when the labor market returns to a more normal state and could get the same person for 20% less.

  12. Terry 6 Silver badge

    A lot in there

    cutting costs with layoffs This seems to be tied to the whole "fire and rehire" mentality as with P&O. It assumes that staff are desperate enough to be employed by you that they'll come crawling back when they're needed or/and at lower pay. Which is why we've got travel chaos. At the end of furlough the airlines and airports cut jobs rather than carry the cost; assuming they could just pick the staff up again when they were needed.

    2x or 4x overstaffed. This claim and action has been around for a long time, it's nothing new. Beancounters seem to perceive the work done in an organisation as of no value unless it's physically making the product. In effect employees are seen as machine parts.So admin staff who actually know where to find stuff and keep track of what's been done aren't thought of as necessary. Which either means stuff gets missed or those precious staff who are meant to be making stuff are instead running around doing the admin.

    Uber has told its employees to begin treating hiring as a privilege, I'm not sure if this means senior staff being allowed to hire or all staff should feel privileged to be allowed to have a job. Either way, employing staff isn't a privilege, ever. They're either needed or they aren't. If you don't have the employees the job isn't getting done ( or is done badly). So in effect they're gambling on the customers not noticing this or not being able to go elsewhere. Again, tell this to the poor devils who's first holiday in nearly 3 years has been wrecked

    When unsustainable levels of pandemic growth inevitably began to decline the company nearly collapsed. This sounds rather like a Ponzi scheme. In effect using the short term influx of cash/customers to inflate the long term value of the company.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: A lot in there

      P&O didn't rehire. They hired entirely different staff from very far away, at much lower rates.

      1. Mr D Spenser

        Re: A lot in there

        "at much lower rates"

        However, often times the productivity and quality is also lower leading to the need for more staff to equal the same output thus negating the advantage of the lower rate.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: A lot in there

        They then didn't sail for weeks, because the new staff they hired had no idea how to sail their ships safely.

        One might think the total lack of any experienced staff to show the new ones around could have had something to do with that.

        It also remains an open question as to whether the company directors will be banned for a few years or longer.

        Of course, if they aren't then a lot of other companies will break the law in the same way.

  13. msknight

    The industry of infrastructure as a whole has changed

    I'm a traditional sort of person. Tin arrives at the door, I unbox it, rack it, patch it, run it then at the end of its life I see it out the door; plus all the networking, backup, storage and all that. However, my look for another position seems to be fruitless.

    Firstly, I can't go into London, which is where there seem to be people screaming for skills and have been doing so for months. I've lost track of how long I've been getting e-mails titled, "10,000 infrastructure jobs in London." I care for my Mother, so I need to be within a limited distance from home, so there's that.

    However, the jobs coming through are all "remote"and wanting cloud skills. Not only that, but the wages on offer are on a par with NHS wages... and those wages are actually lower than many local government positions, presumably using the working from home line to get away with paying less.

    I can't see things remaining like this for too long. Something's got to give.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x"

    Where does that metric come from ?

    Who has decided that "good" companies have twice as many employees as they need ?

    Who are you to define how many employees a company needs ?

    Companies are generally pretty good at defining their recrutement needs - they have to pay the salaries. I don't know of any private company that decides to hire two people for same job when one is enough. If they do hire a few too much, that gets pared down in the year that follows.

    Government administrations, on the other hand, is an entirely different ball game.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: "The good big companies are overstaffed by 2x"

      Government and local authority staffing has never made any sense to me. There are some local authority roles that are clearly over staffed. There are far more that are clearly massively under resourced. Both in terms of people and materials. And this seems to be largely political. Both elected and internal politics seems to decide where the resources go. Someone's favourite department will do well out of it. A Cinderella, unloved but essential, team will be nailed down to the bare boards. In particular, there's always money for the newest, latest fad ( especially, it seems in Education). And never money to keep stuff working. This extends from the smallest to the biggest costs. There's always money for a fucking great new office space or new technology , furnishings etc for the big bosses, but never any cash to maintain the existing ones that the front line staff are based in, and so forth.

      I've probably told this one. Some years ago we needed some nice seating for a parents' waiting area. The big bosses sent us their old stuff and bought themselves new ones. And even earlier, when we needed some networked computers for writing and sharing reports, keeping a small database, designing training materials and so forth, to replace, or at least network if possible, our ageing stand alone Windows machines they sent us an obsolete thin client, green screen Unix system; no mice, icons or recognisable software that anyone could use,that had been replaced with a modern (Windows) network somewhere else in the council.

  15. jmch Silver badge

    Not real money

    "the biggest tech companies have dropped trillions of dollars in valuation"

    The valuation is just a valuation, not real money. The companies in question have not fundamentally changed, what has changed is only investors' perception of them in the market. Perhaps if investors stopped dreaming about expecting 100% returns and focused on fundamentals like actual revenue instead of hype, the companies would not have been overvalued in the first place.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Not real money

      Right? When I hear "valuation", another V word comes immediately to mind. Voodoo.

  16. Daedalus

    Investors are morons

    Hype up companies, driving the stock prices into the stratosphere, then when the inevitable collapse in prices happens, demand that the companies cut back regardless of the actual revenue picture. The whole purpose of the cutbacks is to bolster the stock price that was over-inflated to begin with. So they bought high, let them sell low (or rather not quite as high) and take their licks.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Investors are morons

      It's not that the investors up front are morons. It's that the system is effectively a scam. Institutional investors and investment companies using their small investors'/savers' funds earn their fees from trading gambling in share prices, not from owning a share in profitable companies that pay dividends. So once they gain a shareholding they need to inflate share prices, quickly. And by any means however artificial. They then trade on and jump ship well before it flounders. Dumping the staff who'll be needed to make money in the next quarter and beyond, so that they can show increased profits this quarter, is an obvious one.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hiring freeze?

    Let's talk about the poorly paid and understaffed public sector. Civil Servants, police and mainly nurses are seeing mass layoffs and no pay rises.

    The IT industry has left these groups behind. No hope of hiring, IR35 and blind, uneducated, stupid ministers demanding ridiculous asks.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Over-staffed by 2x to 4x.

    What a crock. Where did Marc Andreessen pull those numbers from? (Don't answer that; pretty sure we all know.)

    Most people I talk to are barely able to get approval to take more than a couple of days in a row of PTO because staffing is already so thin. I worked with a DBA who was forced to lug along a damned company-supplied satellite phone and call in daily while he went on his annual week-long fishing trip to N. Canada. Can't let folks take a week off because "What if something happens and you're gone?" I know full well what happened when anyone took a week off: nothing. It was either that or leave the employee taking the time off to worry about that Sword of Damocles dangling over their head to whole time they're trying to enjoy their time off. God forbid they properly staffed the team. Shees, I remember going on *two-week* vacations with my parents when I was a kid. That's just another thing that American families had to give up along with being able to live a middle-class lifestyle on a single income.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Over-staffed by 2x to 4x.

      And what's worse is if an American multinational buys out your non-American company... you're doomed. Local HR having to beg the US HQ to be able to place job adverts (and the answer year after year is "no"), headcount reduced through people moving on and never topped up, departments/teams stretched to the limit, wilful ignorance of the "digital disconnection" laws in your country. The same degradation in workers conditions that has been enjoyed by US workers over 3-4 decades must be visited upon new subsidiaries in the rest of world in 3-4 years.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

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