Surviving a Downturn

As the press is filled with stories about the economic crisis, it’s very easy to see why Human Resourcing departments feel the need to take radical steps. But that needn’t be the case. It would be better to develop strategies that boost and maintain morale and talent, to ensure your organisation’s survival and future growth.

So here are a few suggestions for HR on how to survive a downturn:

1. Understand the context of your business.
Understand how the organisation is performing and plan in a way that reflects your core business requirements. Working in close contact with senior managers and thinking creatively as well can help you organise your workforce effectively to face the downturn, and position the business to rise above the competition when recovery happens. If your business is growing and optimistic about the future, then make sure that it does not get caught up in negativity. Ensure that you receive the funds necessary for supporting the business.

2. Examine competitors.

In difficult times there are many talented people in struggling organisations with the career initiative to jump ship before they drown. There are also people who, although not openly seeking another job, will feel more inclined to consider approaches from recruiters. These are the people you could look to recruit into your organisation, to ensure that the business has the talent it needs for the long run.

3. Protect your organisation’s talent.

However, don’t let other organisations do the same to you. Do all you can to keep employees engaged, motivated, and certain in their career paths in your business. For this reason, cutting training courses or anything that helps employee development is not the type of action to be taking now. Visible cutbacks also have a demotivating effect, and to prevent drastic recruitment costs, you need to hang on to your people.

4. Think about the long term.

Take advantage of your team members’ availability if there is going to be less recruitment and induction activity taking place this year. Use their free time to deal with important strategic projects, pivotal to long-term success, but which have been continually postponed for other activities.

5. Research thoroughly.

Considering the extent of the role that HR will have to play in the years ahead, arguing for an increase in your budget may be a good idea. Finance directors, however, will challenge any unessential expenditure, so the figures you propose need to be accurate and realistic. You should be able to discuss them in detail, and confidently, so arguments should be rehearsed, with counter-arguments planned in advance. Fall-back plans are also useful, and don’t forget to explain that HR is responsible for keeping people feeling valued, supported and informed.

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