The worst of the layoffs is over, but leaders lost employee trust, HR pros say

The worst of the layoff wave has passed, HR pros indicated in a recent survey, but employee trust in leadership is a little worse for the wear.

While 29% of the 200 human resource and business leaders surveyed said their companies are currently conducting or planning to conduct layoffs, that number is down from 45% this spring, according to an Oct. 17 report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Likewise, only 4% said they anticipate the need for future layoffs, down from 8%.

“We know that many companies have conducted layoffs during the first three quarters of the year, since announcements are up 198% over the same period last year,” Andrew Challenger, workplace and labor expert and senior vice president of the firm, said in a statement.

“It seems a lot of the cost-cutting companies planned was carried out prior to the fourth quarter,” he said.

Still, about 46% said they believe a recession is coming, and 24% are actively planning for one. But employers may be cutting costs in other ways. Most said they’re reducing business travel. Some said they’ve implemented a hiring freeze, and others are redeploying workers internally.

Trust in leadership hasn’t emerged from those efforts unscathed, however. Fifty-six percent of respondents said their employees have a favorable view of leadership — down from 65% in the spring. They pointed to inefficacy, inconsistency and poor communication as causes. Workers also are grappling with burnout and they attribute it to leadership, respondents said.

As leaders plan for a recession, company culture and employee experience remain a key priority, according to an earlier report from The Conference Board. Beyond pay, a strong workplace culture drove high job satisfaction, particularly with flexible work arrangements, reasonable workloads and opportunities for career growth.

Training for leaders may help with negative views of leader efficacy and communication as well, according to a recent report from BetterManager. The average ROI is $7 for every $1 spent on leadership development, which stems from increased revenue and sales and cost savings from higher employee retention.