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Rightsizing Your Organization in an Economic Downturn

Rightsizing is a strategic approach to organizational design and structure to manage costs while preserving key talent.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the global economy due to various factors.

The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to historic lows in response to the pandemic, which made it more affordable for businesses to borrow money. This led to a surge in investment and hiring as businesses took advantage of the low cost of capital.

During a period of low interest rates, consumer demand rose, leading to a prosperous economy. Reduced costs for mortgages, car payments, and other loans meant consumers had more money to spend, causing businesses to thrive. However, the rapid growth caused an overheated economy and a surge in inflation rates, prompting governments worldwide to take action.

Raising interest rates was one significant step to cool down the economy, but it had unintended consequences. As a result, consumers became more cautious and businesses faced the pressure as demand softened, leading to economic headwinds.

This led to cost-cutting measures and right-sizing operations for many businesses. Downsizing and streamlining became necessary to align with the new economic reality. The landscape shifted from a period of robust growth to one of recalibration, and businesses had to adapt swiftly to remain competitive in a more conservative consumer environment.

During the pandemic, many companies experienced overhiring with a substantial increase in their workforce. Particularly in the U.S., tech companies averaged 40,000 new jobs monthly in 2021, a significant rise compared to 20,000 new jobs per month in 2020. However, companies had to reduce their workforce to remain cost-effective, improve organizational efficiency, and increase agility, resulting in massive tech layoffs in 2022. This blog post will explain what rightsizing is and explore the best practices for rightsizing in organizations.

Rightsizing vs Downsizing

Rightsizing and downsizing are both terms used to describe the process of reducing a workforce. Yet, there is a key difference between the two.

What is Rightsizing?

Rightsizing is a process of reducing the workforce in a way that is aligned with the organization's strategic goals. This means carefully evaluating the organization's current needs and ensuring the workforce is sized accordingly.

What is Downsizing?

Downsizing is a more drastic and often unplanned process of reducing the workforce. This can be done in a number of ways, such as layoffs, pay cuts, or furloughs. Downsizing is often seen as a last resort for struggling organizations. However, it can also be used to restructure an organization or make it more competitive.

Why is Rightsizing the Way Forward?

Rightsizing is the more sustainable and strategic approach to reducing the workforce.

  • Reduce costs: Rightsizing can lead to significant cost savings. Businesses can reduce their expenses on salaries, benefits, and office space.
  • Improve efficiency: A smaller workforce can be more efficient and productive. Employees can focus more on their core tasks.
  • Increase agility: A right-sized organization is more agile. Employees are able to adapt to change, which can be important in a volatile economic environment.

Downsizing, on the other hand, can have some negative consequences, such as:

  • Damage to morale and productivity
  • Loss of key talent
  • Increased risk of future layoffs
  • Damage to the organization's reputation

How to Rightsize Your Organization?

Rightsizing your organization is a complex and challenging process. Here are six steps you can take to rightsize your organization effectively:

1. Understand the need for rightsizing

Before you can start right-sizing your organization, you need to understand why you need to do it. Are you facing financial challenges? Is this for profitability? Do you need to reduce redundancies? Are you trying to meet new business objectives? Once you understand the reasons for rightsizing, you can start to develop a plan.

2. Understand your work structure and headcount distribution

The next step is to understand your current work structure and headcount distribution. Identify areas where there may be redundancies or inefficiencies. Optimize workflow and increase productivity by analyzing current processes and team roles. This step saves time and resources.

3. Use org chart and org design tools

Several org chart and org design tools are available that can help you visualize your current structure and identify areas for improvement. It is recommended to opt for a software tool that provides an interactive organizational chart, such as Agentnoon

It’s important to choose user-friendly software that integrates smoothly with all your existing systems. With Agentnoon's org chart tool, you can access all your personnel data in a single location without moving people around using drawing tools or PowerPoint. In addition, Agentnoon's org chart assists you in comprehending your personnel data better, which improves communication and productivity within your organization.

4. Analyze workforce analytics

Workforce analytics can provide valuable insights into your workforce, such as the cost of each employee, the productivity of each employee, and the skills and experience of each employee. This information allows you to identify areas where you can enhance your workforce efficiency and productivity.

5. Reduce layers in the organization

One of the most effective ways to rightsize your organization is to reduce the number of layers in the hierarchy. This can help strengthen communication and coordination, and it can also reduce costs.

6. Optimize org ratios, span of control, and employee depth

There are several important factors to take into account when rightsizing your organization. Business leaders can ensure that their teams are structured in a way that facilitates effective communication and coordination, and it can also reduce costs by eliminating redundant roles and streamlining workflows.

Ultimately, by optimizing org ratios, span of control, and employee depth, companies can rightsize their workforces and create a lean and agile organization. Such organizations are well-positioned to thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.

How to Execute Rightsizing?

To execute right-sizing successfully, make sure that you have the ability to follow the workforce plans that are in place.

  • Employees must understand how the changes impact their roles. This can be achieved by implementing change management plans that help employees understand the reasoning behind the changes.
  • Getting leaders involved in the process is also essential for good governance and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Communication plans should be established to keep everyone informed and updated on the progress of the workforce plans.
  • Setting targets and milestones can help track progress and ensure the plans meet the desired outcomes.
  • Monitoring the process is crucial to identify potential issues and make necessary adjustments to succeed.

Another useful tip is to take advantage of products like Agentnoon to assist the process. Visualize your workforce and understand headcount distribution. Agentnoon also allows you to model different 'what if scenarios' with ease in order for you to build an efficient organization and design your perfect org structure.

Finally, remember to softly communicate the need for rightsizing to the team. It is critical to communicate the need for rightsizing in a way that is sensitive to the needs of employees. Employees may be concerned about their jobs and their future with the organization. It is essential to be transparent about the reasons for rightsizing and to provide employees with information about how the process will be managed.


Rightsizing is a process of reducing the workforce in a way that is aligned with the organization's strategic goals. There are a number of steps involved in rightsizing an organization, including determining the need for rightsizing, understanding the current work structure and headcount distribution, using org chart and org design tools, analyzing workforce analytics, reducing layers in the organization, as well as optimizing org ratios, span of control, and employee depth. Organizations can position themselves for success in a constantly evolving business landscape by adopting change management plans and adhering to the steps outlined. This will enable them to become leaner and more adaptable.

In addition to the above, organizations should take a strategic approach to org design and structure to manage costs while preserving key talent. 

Schedule a demo call to learn more about how Agentnoon can help you visualize your people data, and build an efficient organization that aligns with your business goals!


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Ali Nawab

Ali Nawab

CEO, Agentnoon


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