Apple has avoided mass layoffs thanks to 3 prudent business moves

Apple logo on storefront
Apple's frugal approach has helped it avoid layoffs.
Getty Images

Good morning!

Leaders don’t always have to resort to staffing cuts to shave costs. Just ask Apple.

The company is one of the very few tech giants to have avoided mass layoffs despite widespread cuts throughout the industry. The reason? The iPhone maker took several preemptive steps to avoid the fate of its peers and continues to move conservatively on hiring.

Here are three of the most notable steps Apple’s leadership has taken to avoid layoffs:

1. Slow to hire. While many tech employers went on a pandemic hiring spree, Apple kept its hiring at a slow and steady pace. In fact, the company added fewer employees than its big tech rivals while generating more revenue per new hire than its peers, according to data from Bloomberg. From 2020 to 2022, Apple’s headcount increased by 20%, while Alphabet grew its workforce by 60%, and Amazon nearly doubled its headcount.

2. Quick to freeze. Apple’s leadership decided to freeze hiring in certain business areas, specifically cutting back on outside research and development. The employer also halted backfilling roles when employees leave and let go of some contract workers. 

3. Fortifying HR. The company announced in February that it would hire Carol Surface as its first-ever chief people officer to strengthen its HR practice. Apple’s retail chief Deirdre O’Brien led HR before the announcement. The reshuffle is viewed by many as an effort to lend more heft to talent management as the company expands its global retail footprint and faces unionization efforts. 

In addition to curtailing talent acquisition efforts and building up its people practice, Apple is reducing business travel and delaying employee bonuses. CEO Tim Cook will also take a pay cut of about 40% this year, which he reportedly requested. Altogether, the moves make for a true “doing more with less” strategy. 

“Apple is frugal by nature,” Credit Suisse Group AG analyst Shannon Cross told Fortune in February. “It comes down to the management’s stewardship of shareholder dollars and a tight focus on what growth opportunities to invest in.”

Amber Burton

Check out the latest Fortune @ Work playbook to learn how HR execs are leading in a time of economic uncertainty. The Fortune @ Work playbook is a quarterly must-read guide for executives, featuring case studies, data, and insights on how leaders are tackling the thorniest people issues while driving business innovation.

Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

It’s one thing to provide upskilling opportunities and new career paths for employees with nontraditional tech backgrounds, but it’s another to foster belonging so they’ll stay. Intuit is trying to do both.

“You’ve got apprentices who are software engineers, ones with no technical background, and others who literally did four-year degrees in computer science. And they’re side by side,” says Humera Shahid, chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer and head of talent development. “You have to keep thinking about that equity equation. What are you doing to support folks you brought in, [and] how do you continue that support system?”

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- Amazon will lay off 9,000 employees, according to a companywide memo from CEO Andy Jassey. Insider

- Some hiring managers post job listings without intending to fill the position. Wall Street Journal

- Japanese bank Nomura International missed its targets for women in leadership roles. Bloomberg

- In a blow to its seemingly employee-centric culture, Google laid off thousands of staffers via email. CNN

- Credit Suisse’s investment bank employees are worried about possible staffing cuts following the sale to UBS. Many are being told to begin looking for new jobs. Financial Times


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Developing talent. To address the talent shortage and an uncertain economic future, companies should invest in developing their existing employees now, writes LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky. “Your next top employee is most likely your current employee.” —Ryan Roslanksy

Payroll nightmare. After Silicon Valley Bank imploded, many startup leaders panicked about how they would make payroll. It's a strong reminder for companies to diversify where they hold their money. Paolo Confino

Early notice. Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, made the unorthodox move to inform employees of impending layoffs months in advance. Experts say it's a risky bet. Paige McGlauflin

‘Polyworking’ phenomenon. Gen Z is leading the way in a new trend of “polyworking”—working multiple jobs simultaneously to achieve their desired level of flexibility, additional income, and freedom. —Orianna Rose Royle

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet