Top tips for HR in the downturn

by 11 Jun 2009

HR leaders can play a key role in facilitating the necessary mindset change and the actions that can guide their organisations through the recession, according to a Hewitt report.

The report, HR’s Ten Point Plan in Response to the Economic Crisis, said it was important to pay attention to and upgrade your talent in a downturn, as it is all too common for companies to ignore high performers in tough times.

“The high performers are the ones that will help weather the storm and drive the recovery,” the report said.

“Now is the time to make sure that top talent knows they are important and valued. At the same time, there is no better opportunity to assess your bench strength and selectively hire to upgrade talent found.”

HR can also assist with strengthening organisational culture and brand in the downturn, and the report said that how a company responds to adversity defines who it is and what it stands for to employees, customers and to the community at large.

“The decisions a company makes and the way it implements them provide both an opportunity and a significant risk. As you’re making critical decision in response to the economic crisis, carefully consider the impact of those actions will have on your culture and brand,” the report recommended.

HR should also be ruthlessly focused and redefine its priorities in the downturn, and the report said it was the time to hone in on the organisation’s strengths and core capabilities.

“Define the ‘efficient frontier’ – what investments will yield the largest savings and future returns. Agree to stop activities that no longer make sense in the current environment,” the report said.

Conducted in conjunction with Hewitt’s Human Capital Leadership Council, the report also said HR should not lose sight of opportunities in the recession.

“History has shown that great wealth can be created in times of turbulence. Most executives intimately understand their current reality – and build comprehensive plans to manage the risks,” it said.

“Visionary leaders also seize the unexpected opportunities – whether acquiring undervalued assets or recruiting previously untouchable talent.”


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