Is your job at risk? If you're working in any of these roles then you need to be worried

Is your job at risk? If you're working in any of these roles then you need to be worried
  • The revised business forecast and expected margins have forced companies to redraw their business plans and align their cost structures.
  • The layoffs that are happening in cohorts, are mostly to restructure the workforce according to changing business objectives.
  • Basic IT roles, new initiatives roles, and anything else that automation/semi-automation can take over are at risk.
Layoffs are in the news. The reasons are many but employee performance. And that is the definition of layoff too —- the act of ending a worker's job, sometimes temporarily, usually because there is not enough work to do.

Start-ups that raised capital during the go-go days of the pandemic, are now waking up to a different reality, where the next round of capital will be scarce and the business case is looking tougher, which is why these companies have led the layoffs in India.

Since layoffs are not necessarily about the performance of employees, Business India spoke to a variety of human resource experts to understand what segments are at risk. Oftentimes, companies permanently discharge workers because of economic conditions or shortage of work. In such a situation, someone is laid off not necessarily based on one’s performance but because the role is not relevant any more. Here’s what we found:

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Core functions are least at risk

As unfortunate as it may be, but the first to get axed are the support functions. Revenue-generating functions are relatively safe from such mass layoffs. “During all slowdowns, companies prioritize retaining employees who are essential to their core operations and revenue-generating activities. However, we have seen new trends during certain slowdowns, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, where certain industries and job roles may be more vulnerable due to factors such as reduced demand, temporary closures, or shifts in consumer behaviour,” says Sanjay Shetty, director, professional search & selection, and strategic accounts, Randstad India, a HR consulting firm.


On the other hand, he adds that currently, the layoffs which are happening in cohorts, are mostly to restructure the workforce according to the changing business objectives.

A changing reality

“High inflation has put a significant strain on margins. We have seen Q2 and Q3 results in India where revenues were in line with market expectations but margins were lower. As companies finalize their FY24 plans, every cost item is scrutinized, and any excess is identified and trimmed,” says Mayur Taday, chief business officer, TeamLease Services, an HR firm.

During Covid, most companies focused on strategy for the post-Covid world, including digitalisation and forecasting demand based on specific themes. In accordance with the demand forecast, they constructed organizational structures and costs.

IT companies, in particular, have been recruiting with the expectations of better days, which have not come about. Several assumptions were not validated due to geopolitical factors, disruptions in the supply chain, and unpredictability of consumer behaviour.

Following Covid, the demand-supply situation forced higher-cost hiring. “The revised business forecast and expected margins have forced companies to redraw their business plans and align their cost structures,” adds Taday. Experts agree that you are more likely to be laid off if you are in one of the following roles.

Anything that automation can take over: “The likes of ChatGPT will take away jobs that demand significantly fewer variations besides being repetitive like coding, data entry etc,” says Rishi Patil, founder and director, Executive 81, a recruitment firm. So basic jobs which do not require any social or emotional intelligence are likely to be redundant.

New initiative roles: “New initiatives roles are among the few types of specific job roles that are most at risk during layoffs,” says Shetty. During a good phase companies have expansion plans and recruit people for that purpose. During lean times, such jobs are at a threat of being terminated unless the company is making a specific effort to pivot into these new areas.

Overpaid hiring: The demand supply situation is now tilted in the favour of supply. “All such hirings that were overpaid as a result of the then-prevailing overheated demand situation are being scrutinized,” says Taday. So, those being paid significantly above market rates, have a higher chance of losing their job.

Contractual workers: According to a report by recruitment firm Spectrum Talent Management, 50% of Indian first were hiring contract employees amidst mass layoffs, since they were trying to avoid increasing their fixed costs.

“Contractual workers in some cases might also feel the heat during downsizing due to the seasonal nature of their jobs,” says Shetty. Since these employment terms are for a certain period, the company may not renew it when the requirement is over.

Hiring to continue

“We must understand that while organizations have, in some cases, adopted a strategic layoff approach, they are also hiring at a fairly reasonable pace. We expect companies in the IT, telecommunications, and services sectors to continue hiring due to increased digitization, 5G expansion, and a rebound in service sectors to pre-Covid levels of growth,” says Shetty.

According to an internal survey by Randstad India, seven out of ten tech companies plan to increase their headcount in the next couple of months, suggesting that hiring in the Indian IT sector is likely to pick up as well.

“Compared to the previous year, they expect a 25-30% increase in demand for tech talent in non-tech industries in 2023, driven over by the continued digitization of operations as these industries strive for greater scalability,” says Shetty.

Says Saumitra Chand, career expert at Indeed, a job search portal, “We are seeing an increase in demand for talents in non-tech sectors such as healthcare, food services, construction and education. Even sectors like marketing, which was one of the earliest to see layoffs during the pandemic, has picked up steam.”

To sum up, everything in the job space is evolving at a rapid pace. If one is not relevant to the new paradigm, their job is at risk.


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