What is a hiring freeze?

A hiring freeze is when a company stops hiring new employees. During a hiring freeze, companies also refrain from creating new job positions, and might put filling current vacancies on hold.

A hiring freeze is used to manage the workforce and control costs during challenging or uncertain times.

Why do companies implement hiring freezes?

Companies implement hiring freezes because of a variety of different circumstances, including:

  • Economic uncertainty – Like a salary freeze, a company may implement a hiring freeze during a time of financial instability, whether that’s within the business itself, nationally, or worldwide. This allows them to control expenses until economic conditions improve. 
  • Restructuring – When an organization is going through a restructure, they may use a hiring freeze to reassess their workforce needs (also known as workforce planning). They can evaluate current roles and responsibilities and make any necessary changes before resuming hiring new employees. 
  • Preventing layoffs – To ensure they stay financially stable, a business could decide to carry out a hiring freeze instead of letting go of any current employees, protecting them from losing their jobs. 
  • Emergencies – During a national or global crisis like a natural disaster or a pandemic, a company may not be able to operate as normal. They may use a hiring freeze to give themselves the chance to respond appropriately.

Hiring freeze advantages and disadvantages

A hiring freeze comes with both advantages and disadvantages. A business should carefully consider the consequences before deciding to go ahead with a hiring freeze.

Advantages Disadvantages
Cost savings Increased workload for employees
The chance to do workforce planning Skills gap in the company
Protects employees from layoffs Decreased employee morale

Communicating a hiring freeze to employees  

Transparency is essential to build trust among employees, and this is even more important during a hiring freeze.

Management should be honest about the situation and, as soon as they implement the measure, should clearly communicate why there’s a hiring freeze. It’s important to help employees understand the company’s goals and challenges, as well as the impact the hiring freeze will have on the organization. 

Employers should emphasize that the hiring freeze is only temporary, and that it’s being done to ensure the long-term stability of the company. 

It’s also important to encourage employees to ask questions and give feedback, promoting a culture of open communication. This gives the management team the chance to address concerns and alleviate any anxieties.

By communicating clearly during a hiring freeze, an employer will ensure that the business maintains a positive culture that can help make a challenging time much easier. 

How does a hiring freeze impact employees? 

A hiring freeze can impact employees in a number of ways, including:

  • Increased workload – With fewer people available, employees may need to take on additional tasks and responsibilities. This increased workload can lead to burnout if it’s not managed effectively. It’s important that companies distribute the workload fairly and provide support and resources for employee wellbeing. 
  • Company culture – A hiring freeze can impact company culture if employees suffer from burnout or if they see the hiring freeze as a sign of instability or a lack of future opportunities. It’s essential that organizations stay committed to employee wellbeing, recognize everyone’s achievements, provide support, and encourage open dialogue to maintain a positive culture. 
  • Job satisfaction – As we’ve already touched on, employees can experience burnout with the increased workload that often comes with a hiring freeze. This, along with the perception of limited opportunities for growth, can lead to employees experiencing reduced job satisfaction. If this isn’t addressed it could reduce the employee retention rate, increase employee turnover, and boost the attrition rate, making the situation much worse. 

Even though a hiring freeze can be a useful strategy to resort to during a challenging time, it should just be a temporary measure, given the impact that it can have on employees. 

But a company can overcome the challenges of a hiring freeze by prioritizing employee wellbeing and maintaining open and honest communication.