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Have your say: What is the costliest mistake HR can make in a downturn?

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HC Online | 24 Jun 2009, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Human Capital is keen to hear your thoughts for an upcoming article on HR's costliest mistakes in a downturn. It could be poor communication; failing to step up to the plate; neglecting L&D or retention. Has there ever been a situation where you've thought: 'I wish that was handled differently?' If so, we'd like to hear from you.
  • Aaron | 25 Jun 2009, 11:41 AM Agree 0
    Poorly communicated, poorly planned redundancies would have to be the most costly mistake made by HR during a downturn.

    Poor communication damages the psychological contract and can create problems with survivor syndrome with those that are left.

    Poorly planned redundancies see good people go from organisations. The type of people that will be sorely missed when things turn around.
  • Kylie | 25 Jun 2009, 12:49 PM Agree 0
    Poor communication to the "survivors" of redundacy
  • Michele | 25 Jun 2009, 12:56 PM Agree 0
    Not fighting hard enough to prevent an ill-conceived redundancy plan that was rolled out extremely quickly over all my objections. I negotiated, persuaded and ultimately fought against what I knew would be a disaster, but didn't win.

    Not only was it the poor executiion and planning of redundancies that sent ripples of dismay and hostility through the business, but the refusal of the decision makers to look at the analysis on what the actual dollar cost would be, instead it just a knee-jerk reaction to bad times.

    Result: demoralised,distrusting and hostile remaining workforce, and a business left reeling from the cost of the redundancies which took more than 12 months work to recover (both dollars and trust).

    Even if I had fought even harder than I did at the time, I could not have stopped or changed the process and would have joined the others out on the street with my bag & baggage, but it still haunts me.

  • Robin Pollock | 25 Jun 2009, 02:54 PM Agree 0
    Often redundancies are driven by CEOs anxious to show their Boards that the business is reducing costs in the name of overheads! HR is a mere puppet in this type of organization.
  • Nola Rihani, ipac | 02 Jul 2009, 12:07 PM Agree 0
    Employees at all levels can be affected by financial stress or worry during a downturn. This is often brought to work and can negatively impact on employee engagement and productivity.
    HR can help by providing financial assistance such as through their EAP, or workplace sessions on budgeting and behaviour to money.
  • Gretel | 14 Jul 2009, 04:08 PM Agree 0
    Moving HR / ER responsibility directly to line managers without supporting the development of managerial skill sets to handle the complexities that sometimes arise in difficult ER situations.

    This only creates a cycle of employee distrust if less experienced managers deal with issues in a poor manner; and then the employees talk about it with colleagues.

    Likewise, the managers feel poorly equipped if they haven't previously been involved in such matters or at least developed in what such processes look like & how they should effectively manage them.

    This also doesn't account for the potential unfair dismissal costs if things go awry without the support of an ER professional.
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