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Talent Leaving During Layoffs...?

First published on LinkedIn.


In the past few months, many organizations have been making significant changes in preparation for the shifting economy. HR professionals often refer to this period as "layoff season," where companies restructure to become leaner. Despite its supposed benefits, these changes have led to decreased employee engagement, causing about 30 million people to leave their jobs since the start of 2023. But why are they leaving?

Job openings have decreased to 8.8 million by July 2023, and there have been around 238,000 layoffs, mainly in the tech industry, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, 3M, Morgan Stanley, Dell, and more (Forbes 2023).

A recent LinkedIn study revealed that almost 70% of Gen Z and millennial Americans plan to leave their jobs in 2023. With low unemployment rates at 3.4% and plenty of job opportunities, it's clear that American workers are discontent. Inflation has also outpaced salaries, compounding the issue.

A significant motivator for career changes is higher salaries, with over 39% of individuals considering a switch. Studies revealed that 52% of American employees are considering a career change this year, while 44% are already planning to make the switch.

Why Do Folks Bail During Layoffs?

  1. Work/Life Balance Matters: A whopping 72% of employees are all about that work/life balance. And for 57% of job-hunters, a crummy work/life balance is a dealbreaker when they're job shopping.

  2. Women Need a Break: Women get hit hard when it comes to working extra hours. They often have to pick between climbing the career ladder and taking care of family, which often means less money, fewer promotions, and a juggling act that's tough to navigate.

  3. COVID-19 Woes: The Pandemic made this balancing act even trickier. With schools and daycares closed, women had to step up even more for their kids and older relatives. It was a double whammy of work and caregiving, with over 2M women leaving the workforce between 2020 and 2021.

  4. Remote Work to the Rescue: The rise of remote and hybrid work has been a lifesaver, especially for women, BIPOC staff, and folks with disabilities. No more clocking in at the office, which means better juggling of work and family. But with more and more organizations asking employees to return to office/RTO, it's no wonder many are looking for a new path elsewhere.

  5. The Hustle and Grind Isn't All That: Since the pandemic, employees have been able to step back and reassess what's important to them. Not so surprisingly, many are seeing the end of Hustle Culture.

  6. Overtime Overload: With layoffs, folks are being told to do more with less, leading to way too many late working hours and clocking in on weekends. The sense of psychological safety also decreases from the pressure of not putting in extra hours. Not a recipe for retention.

  7. Mental Health Matters: Globally, anxiety and depression shot up 25% during the pandemic's first year. One in five adults in the U.S. said the pandemic greatly impacted their mental health. A good social culture matters so organizations who are looking to cut resources will be the first to see employees leave.

It's not just about having a diverse and equitable workforce but also about making everyone feel like they truly belong, which is even more important.

When employees feel that sense of belonging and inclusion, they're not just clocking in; they're genuinely invested in their work and motivated to give it their all.

My clients didn't back down on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives even during layoffs. Why? Because an organization is a mix of systems and people, and you can boost and better both to drive results.

How is your organization planning on handling the economic changes heading our way?


  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month: This observance was launched in 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1998, the week was extended to a month and renamed. The annual event draws attention to employment barriers that still need to be addressed.

  • Global Diversity Awareness Month: Pay tribute to the diverse minds and beliefs held by all cultures around the world. We live in a multicultural society and embracing the values of various cultures only strengthens our understanding and appreciation of the world.

  • LGBTQ+ History Month: Celebrate the history and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. When the observance was started, it mainly served as a call to action for the movement and its prosperity. But over the years, LGBTQ+ History Month has evolved into a national collaborative effort to bring extraordinary figures from the LGBTQ+ community into the spotlight.

  • Black History Month in UK, Ireland & Netherlands: Commemorates the lives of Black people. It was first celebrated in the year of 1987, recognized as the African Jubilee, coincidentally the year of the 150th anniversary of Caribbean emancipation, the centenary of the birth of Marcus Garvey and the 25th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity, an institution dedicated to advancing the progress of African states.

  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month: First observed in October 1981 as a national “Day of Unity,” Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is held each October as a way to unite advocates across the nation in their efforts to end domestic violence.

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Every day, more than 700 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer. For these women, the impact of breast cancer extends well beyond the single month dedicated to awareness. This October, make Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) about more than awareness.

  • Polish American Heritage Month: Celebrate the rich heritage of Polish Americans and all their contributions.

  • National Indigenous Peoples Day - Oct 19: An alternative celebration to Columbus Day, gives recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization.

  • Canadian Thanksgiving - Oct 9: A chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year.

  • World Mental Health Day - Oct 10: An opportunity for people and communities to unite behind the theme ‘Mental health is a universal human right” to improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect everyone’s mental health as a universal human right.

  • National Coming Out Day - Oct 11: For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, this day celebrates coming out and the recognition of the 1987 march on Washington for gay and lesbian equality.

  • International Day of the Girl - Oct 11: Aims to empowers girls and amplify their voices. Acknowledges the importance, power, and potential of adolescent girls by encouraging the opening up of more opportunities for them.

  • International Pronouns Day - Oct 18: Seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace.

Until next month... Be well and stay safe & healthy!


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