Tech layoffs have hit almost every region of the world and Southeast Asia is no exception, including companies like Sea, Crypto.com and JD.ID. Fintech startups in particular – BNPL, credit and lending companies, and inventory companies – are vulnerable, as in other parts of the world.
Glints, one of Southeast Asia’s largest job platforms with over 30,000 active vacancies per month and 40,000 employers, recently issued a report showing that the situation may not be so bad (although for someone who has just arrived, it probably is doesn’t feel dismissed). Even Singapore, which has seen the most layoffs and hiring freezes, still faces a shortage of tech talent because it’s the regional headquarters for many international companies and a start-up hub.
“It’s a correction in general. I think what we’ve seen is that there’s been a lot of capital pumped into the tech industry over the last two to three years in a big bull run. With that, we had a lot of companies that also grew rapidly,” Oswald Yeo, co-founder and CEO of Glints, told TechCrunch.
“Singaporean companies seem to be the quickest to react to the changes in the macroeconomic environment,” he added, “which is not necessarily a bad thing because some of these changes want to act quickly.”
The teams most affected include operations, finance, and human resources, as well as some sales and marketing teams.
Many hires will be remote as companies look to Vietnam and Indonesia for top tech talent, both of which have seen fewer layoffs. This is fueled in part by the pandemic-created readiness for a decentralized workforce.
“Along with the cost-saving measures, because on the one hand, the convenience of remote hiring has increased due to the pandemic,” Yeo said. “On the other hand, there is this need to cut costs. From both a human capital perspective and a financial capital perspective, many companies are now actually hiring more remotely. On Glints, for example, we see remote job opportunities increase 10-fold over the past year.”
In Malaysia, regional companies are still hiring across borders, but local companies have shifted back to local hiring. Glints said they don’t anticipate mid- to senior-level employee pay going below current levels, but up-and-coming talent pay could be impacted.
Another emerging trend is fixed-term contracts, typically one year, which allow companies to better predict their financial prospects. “Employers are more cautious when it comes to committing to permanent contracts with employers,” Yeo said.
“It’s not all doom and gloom in two ways, and there are still positives,” Yeo said. For example, he said there is still disproportionate demand for technology and product talent at Glints, with the ratio tipping in favor of job seekers.
Layoffs also give startups a chance to build their core teams.
“For companies that are in good shape and can afford it, it’s actually a great time to beef up the bank, to shape the management and leadership bank with top management talent, because there’s a little less competition for talent now are.”