People Development in a Recession: If You Don’t Have a Plan, You Don’t Have a Clue

36855543If you don’t have a plan for recruiting and managing your talent base during the recession, then get one fast. And, while you’re putting it together, know that a good plan for attracting and retaining talent can’t all be based in the “right now.” It must account for the future needs of the business.

Otherwise, your talent base will look and feel and think five years from now exactly like they do today. And that’s not a good thing.

How companies approach managing their people resources during this time span will affect how quickly they bounce back, innovate and grow over the next decade (or more). A people strategy that is stagnant or completely lies dormant for years can’t be expected to bear fruit at the end of a long winter. Companies who have a speedy recovery followed by growth will be those who tended their garden well.

Below is a sampling of how some companies are managing layoffs, hiring and retention during this time. You can decide for yourself which will be successful long-term. I know what I think, but the jury (stakeholders and the general public) is still out.

1) One global company I’ve worked with has consolidated a function and moved it to a new location. They had a plan and used this opportunity to set some people free (a harsh reality, yes), reward remaining high-performing talent and hire new team members with added skill sets and fresh creative ideas. People on this new team are so excited they’re practically aglow. There’s a feeling that people who were let go or chose to stay behind were selected or self-selected for a good reason and will be better off.

2) Another global company consolidated a function, but did it in a sort-of “if you can find a seat, sit down fast.” Anyone else was let go. So, if there was one spot, and five people, well – nobody is sure how they decided. Not that a company has to let people know all of the intimate details of their strategy, but if it seems there was no plan then that’s not good. There probably wasn’t one. Today, there are star performers who were also very senior who are on the street. On the flip side, this company has opened up room at the top for advancement and growth, and probably rewarded some under-the-radar employees with leadership potential. Some of the remaining employees I’ve talked with feel as if they’ve won the lottery. Indeed.

3) One national technology company let go an entire function and then rebuilt it by pulling from regions around the country. They cut costs, but lost a lot of trust and respect from remaining employees – and those who were let go. A little bit of grace and poise from the company could have gone a long way. Their culture took a huge hit, and the ambassadors they put out on the street have a lot of negative things to say.

4) One Fortune 100 company says its goal is to avoid layoffs and maintain current levels of compensation. They’ve had to freeze 401K matches and merit increases, but they haven’t had to cut staff, and if you talk to employees, they’re not worried about losing their job. The good news is that these employees are safe, the bad news is that their talent pool could become like a stagnant pond if not managed carefully. Also, employees aren’t worried about losing their jobs, but they’re not grateful to have them either. That’s cause for concern.

5) One global service company is hiring employees at a lower salary and letting them work a non-profit job until the economy recovers. So this army of top talent is waiting in the wings to be put into battle. That’s smart thinking; the company looks smart in addition to putting dibs on talent that will help them move their company forward.

%d bloggers like this: