The announcements of massive industry layoffs, especially in the tech sector, have arrived with an alarming frequency just as the world of work seems ready to leave the pandemic behind.

From the “Great Resignation” to “quiet quitting,” “hybrid work,” and “work from anywhere,” the theme of “employee experience comes first” has dominated the post-pandemic headlines. It appears the employment contract has been redrawn in favor of employees. The question today is whether the next economic stress test will expose the weak links in the employee-centric management model.

Can the notion of “stakeholder capitalism” withstand the slowing economy and the looming recession, which are forcing companies and their leaders to make difficult decisions and bring back austerity tactics? Everyone is carefully watching how far the pendulum of change will swing in that direction. No matter the prevailing HR convention or rhetoric around best practices, business disruption can force divergent responses to change.

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