How To Take on Tough Times and Win

Oct 4, 2001

In this time of turmoil and economic uncertainty, human resources/staffing departments need to focus on three main areas: strategic staffing, future staffing, and employee retention. It’s easy for recruiters and HR professionals to get so worried about their own survival that they overlook these larger issues, which in the end will help ensure the survival not only of themselves and their department, but the company as a whole. Stay focused on the following themes and you’ll improve your own company’s staffing efforts significantly:

  1. Strategic Staffing. Simply stated, this is about assuring that the qualified talent that will be needed to grow the company will not be let go in order to cut expenses. The best way strategic staffing can be promoted is by performance management. Many companies are moving to this model, which classifies employees into categories from “outstanding” to “needs improvement.” By using this type of performance rating system your company will be able to easily identify the “A” players from the rest. This system can become invaluable if layoffs are necessary. It will also ensure that your company is not cutting too deep into the muscle of your talent pool.
  2. Keeping your pipeline full. Even if your company is in the middle of a “hiring freeze” or laying off workers, it is imperative to keep your pipeline of candidates well stocked. There is nothing worse than slowing down your recruiting machine, only to have to crank it back up once your business starts to pick up. During these slower times, it is crucial that you identify the critical hiring needs of your company that are important for long-term success, and keep recruiting. You may not be hiring any of these candidates immediately, but by developing a relationship with top talent today, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition when there is a need to fill one of these positions.
  3. Planning for Future Staffing. If you are only sourcing and recruiting “mission critical” candidates during these slower times, you will probably have time to plan for the future as well. Now is the time to understand what your company’s growth plan is for the first quarter of 2002 and beyond. By understanding what the projections are, you will then be able to develop a more solid recruiting plan. All too often, HR/recruiting departments don’t take advantage of the slower times to plan for future growth. Look into that new applicant tracking system you have been wanting to demo. Improve your recruiting/sourcing skills by taking a training class. By all means, review your internal hiring process and make improvements where necessary. By doing these types of things now, you will be better prepared to tackle higher volume recruiting when your company is ready.
  4. Keep them happy. Many recruiters are finding it difficult to pry top talent out of their current employment situation because of the economic situation that we are currently in. I can’t say I would blame anyone for wanting to stay put at a job that they are happy at right now. That’s why it’s so important to work on employee retention right now: to ensure the happiness of the current employees that you have. It can be very costly to have to replace a top employee if they leave or are laid off. By working on employee retention now, your company may be able to avoid some of these problems. Talk to your top employees and find out what they like and more importantly what they don’t like about the company and their current position. By understanding what is keeping your employees happy it can be helpful not only in retention but in your future recruiting efforts.
  5. Provide Training. Many companies are doing everything they can to cut costs, so you many be shaking your head when I suggest training. Training is an expense, but it can be done for a low cost – especially if the return to the company is better employees. One type of training that is always useful, even in slower economic times, is leadership training for managers and future managers. This type of training is valuable, especially over the long term. What type of company doesn’t need better leaders?

By taking a close look at your company and the projections for the future, you will have a better picture of what is going to be necessary to be ready to meet those demands. Keep recruiting for critical positions, plan for the future, and keep your employees happy! If you cover all of these bases then you will be ready for whatever else awaits you.

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