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The Great Hire & Fire

As startups commence another round of layoffs, the impact of this year’s challenges including investing winter is clearer. A company’s people strategies can change but long-term thinking should not

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For the startup community, 2022 can barely be called a good year. One of the most important challenges remains the investment winter or the freezing of even the expected funds due to global uncertainties. Recession, inflation, interest rate hikes and several such terms played their role in upping the difficulty level.

If 2021 was the year of the startups, giving birth to great talent wars and hire cycles as India crossed the 100-unicorn mark to become the third largest ecosystem for startups globally, 2022 has slowed down the pace. This would have been expected amid global uncertainties but headlines such as Ola laying off 2100 employees, Byju’s about 2500, Blinkit over 1600, Unacademy 1150, Vedantu laying off 724, 600 job cuts at Cars24 and many more, have cast dark shadows on the ecosystem.

More than 44 startups have let go of people for reasons such as cost-cutting, financial constraints, restructuring, change in work structure such as return to office or automation, or complete shutdown. The overall number cited for 2022 so far is more than 15,000 people that are left hunting for jobs.

While the concern was across domains, edtech has visibly seen a stronger hit. Byju’s, White Hat Jr., Unacademy, Vedantu and Lead among others are some examples of cost-cutting and re-structuring-led layoffs but edtech startups such as Lido Learning and Udayy have complete shut shops. In all, more than 14 edtech startups have had to take the tough call this year. This is indic-ative that the future of online learning in India may not be as bright or as simple as some may have imagined.

Talent in India, especially among younger businesses and tech-led skill sets, is closely connected. The changes in the startup sector as a pool of people become available, will have repercussions on the talent war itself.

The year began with leaders in India pointing out the extra efforts being made in identifying and hir-ing the kind of talent that can rise to current demands and is future-ready in a sense. As the great lay-offs pick up, this situation has changed. More than anything else, there is caution in the market as well. Talent is still greatly valued but the benchmark has become higher in some cases and for some, the hiring process has become rigid.

Industry experts explain this is all part of the parcel. Jobs and talent wars remain an area that would see ups and downs even without the external stimuli but they advise against kneejerk reactions and straying from strategies.

More than ever, it is imperative now to think long-term. Like other economies, India’s startup ecosystem is fragile. The move-ments from established startups, where they let go of staff on one hand but look to hire certain skill sets on the other, are indicative of change. The need of the hour is to remain strategic even while thinking tactical.

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