What can HR managers do during hiring freezes & budget cuts?

January 3, 2024
min read


Table of contents


What can your team do during a hiring freeze to stay productive? 

So your budget is cut and you are in a hiring freeze. It means that there's nothing you can do, right? 


Hiring freezes although difficult, can be a great opportunity for your organization to work on engagement of your workforce and improvement of your processes.

But first, we know the mountain of tasks is never ending working in HR, so take a little break and treat yourself.

Then sit down to read your newest list of best practices...

Top practices during a hiring freeze

Let's dive into practices that you can dive into when you're on a hiring freeze...

#1 Strengthen your current employees & team

Protect your talent

While your organization may not be hiring, it's important to ensure that your top talent remains with the company. HR teams can do this by identifying key employees and finding ways to retain them. This may involve offering flexible work arrangements, opportunities for professional development, and other incentives.

Engage your employees

HR teams can also focus on employee engagement during a hiring freeze. Employee engagement refers to the level of commitment and enthusiasm employees have for their job and the company. HR teams can develop initiatives that promote employee engagement, such as wellness programs, team-building activities, and recognition programs. This can help boost morale and create a positive work environment, which can lead to increased productivity and employee retention.

  • Upskilling/Internal development: One way to strengthen current employees is to invest in their skills and knowledge. HR teams can develop training programs, coaching sessions, and other initiatives aimed at developing employee skills and knowledge.‍

  • Employee wellbeing: HR teams can also focus on employee wellbeing during a hiring freeze. This may involve offering resources and support for mental health, stress management, and work-life balance.

  • Revise benefits: HR teams can also review and revise employee benefits during a hiring freeze. This may involve adjusting benefits to better meet the needs of employees or finding new benefits that are more cost-effective for the company.

#2 Review & revise your processes

To remain productive during a hiring freeze, HR teams can review and revise their processes. Below are some steps that HR teams can take:

Improve Processes

Take the time to review current processes and identify areas for improvement. They can then work with other departments to implement these changes. This can help increase productivity, reduce errors and waste, and improve overall efficiency.

Employer brand

HR teams can also use this time to develop and strengthen the organization's employer brand. This may include creating content for the company's social media channels, showcasing the company's culture and values, and highlighting employee success stories. By developing a strong employer brand, HR teams can help ensure the organization is well-positioned to attract top talent when the hiring freeze is lifted.

Plan your budget

HR teams can also take the time to review and revise their budget & planning. This may involve finding ways to reduce costs or reallocating resources to areas that need more attention. By revising the budget, HR teams can help ensure the organization is well-positioned for growth when the hiring freeze is lifted.

PSST did you know that Figures is a cost-effective proven way for HR to retain top talent? Learn how here!

#3 Get ready for post-freeze frenzy

You may be wondering within a HR team, what do recruiters do when there is a hiring freeze? While a hiring freeze may seem like a negative situation, it can also present opportunities for HR teams to prepare for the future. Here are some steps HR teams can take to get ready for the post-freeze frenzy:

Build a talent pipeline

HR teams can use this time to build a talent pipeline. This may involve identifying potential candidates for future job openings or reaching out to passive candidates who may be interested in working for the company in the future.


HR teams can also use this time to self-educate. This may involve attending webinars, reading industry publications, or taking online courses to develop new skills and knowledge.

Deep-dive workforce planning

Finally, HR teams can use this time to conduct a deep-dive workforce planning exercise. This may involve reviewing current workforce trends, identifying potential talent gaps, and developing a plan to address these gaps. By conducting a deep-dive workforce planning exercise, HR teams can help ensure the organization is well-positioned for growth when the hiring freeze is lifted.

Hiring freezes 101

What's the difference between a hiring freeze and layoffs?

A hiring freeze is a temporary measure that a company takes when they decide to stop hiring new employees for a specific period. The company may still have open positions, but they are not allowed to fill them until the freeze is lifted. A hiring freeze is usually implemented to control costs during a period of financial difficulty, such as a recession or a global crisis.

On the other hand, layoffs are a permanent measure that a company takes when they need to reduce their workforce. In a layoff, the company terminates the employment of a certain number of employees. Layoffs are usually implemented when the company's revenue is declining, and they need to reduce costs to remain profitable.

How long can a hiring freeze last? 

The duration of a hiring freeze varies depending on the company and the reason for the freeze. A hiring freeze can last for a few months or several years, depending on the company's financial situation. However, it's important to note that a hiring freeze is usually a temporary measure, and the company will eventually resume hiring when the situation stabilizes.

Should you panic if your company puts on a hiring freeze?

No, you should not panic if your company puts on a hiring freeze. A hiring freeze is a common cost-cutting measure that companies take during difficult times. It does not necessarily mean that the company is in trouble or that layoffs are imminent. Instead of panicking, try to focus on your job and look for ways to improve your skills and knowledge. This will make you a more valuable employee and increase your chances of being retained when the company resumes hiring.

How to announce a hiring freeze at your organization

  • Be transparent. The first step in announcing a hiring freeze is to be transparent with your employees. Let them know why the decision was made and what it means for the company.
  • Communciate effectively. when announcing a hiring freeze. Make sure to communicate the decision clearly and effectively to all employees. Note: It's also important to communicate with employees on an individual level. If an employee is affected by the hiring freeze, make sure to have a one-on-one conversation with them. This will allow them to ask questions and express any concerns they may have.
  • Be Empathetic. Let employees know what the company is doing to address the situation and when the hiring freeze may be lifted. This will help alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety that employees may be feeling.

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