Adapting people strategy amid economic constraint

Adapting people strategy amid economic constraint

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Pauline James (CEO & Founder, Anchor HR Services Inc.) | Published: May 1, 2024

In times of economic restraint, having an effective people strategy becomes critical to support and retain a committed and talented workforce. In this article, we will explore some of the essential considerations for an effective people strategy during challenging times.

During an economic downturn, employers have historically had less pressure to offer competitive total rewards packages that include not only compensation but also benefits, work-life balance, and other perks to attract and retain top talent. With the advancements in technology, the increasing focus on well-being, and the desire for a better work-life balance, customer and employee expectations have undergone a significant shift. As a result, it has become more complicated to manage these expectations effectively.

Keep organizational mission and values front and center

How do you embed your mission and values in daily operations and decision-making, especially during times of high pressure? If your mission is a client-focused one and you value transparency with employees, how will this be put into action? Will you engage the employees servicing clients to validate what is most valued by customers and to identify time-consuming friction points? Will you put your values front and center as you ask leaders to consider how you can meet the expectations of your clients and team, in a way that fosters long-term success and well-being?

Identifying, valuing, and supporting key team members

The reality is that during a downturn, attrition can be helpful for some individuals and the organization, depending on the role. Which people and roles remain critical to your organization’s success? Exclaiming that “Times are tough (again) and we need your help!” may not do much to incentivize retention and engagement. Conversely, demonstrating your unwavering commitment to your mission and values, actively involving employees in finding new ways of operating, and investing in employee development may be what is needed.

Engaging leaders at all levels in important discussions has the added benefit of honing their skills. Investing in their development not only demonstrates their value and supports retention, but also leads to more advanced skills, enabling them to support recovery and growth on the other side of the downturn.

Finding innovative as opposed to constrained solutions

If you aim to identify innovative solutions in a complex marketplace with rapidly evolving technology, relying on a few wise people at the top of the organization to come up with all the answers is less effective than a collaborative approach that taps into insights throughout your organization. A more agile approach can be more effective than traditional top-down project implementation. By valuing employee input, aligning on outcomes, and testing together, teams can move faster and achieve better results.

Remember your investment and that former employees are also your brand, for good and bad

When downsizing is deemed necessary, how terminations are managed and communicated and how former employees are supported will shape the organization’s reputation. Treating employees well, even when making difficult decisions, has a sizable impact on those not only leaving but, as importantly, those who are remaining and is vital to supporting recovery and growth. Employees hearing from former colleagues that they were treated fairly and kindly helps with the guilt that is often experienced by those remaining.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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