Its no secret that we’re in a recession and most organisations are facing uncertain times. If they don’t implement change it may well be forced upon them. We’ve conducted interviews with senior executives who’ve “been there” and survived to tell the tale. We felt it would be useful to share the learning…..
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Too often in tough times management retreats to the boardroom to come up with the solution leaving staff uninformed, worried or unproductive. Communicate openly and engage staff in the process. Everyone should understand the reasons for change or the ‘burning platform’.
2. Listen before you cut
Create a cost reduction task force to further engage employees in the process. Employees at the coalface that know best where the waste is. Employee feedback is invaluable.
3. Use the customer value rule
When considering where to make savings ask “does this really add value to our customer”.
4. Do a lot of little things right
Too often and usually as a knee jerk reaction people look for a “magic bullet” solution i.e., one big action such as redundancies to solve the crisis of a decline in business.
Most business survive and thrive as a result of successfully introducing a lot of small changes.
5. Fix the leaks
In busy times proactive work such as streamlining processes and supplier management can get left behind. Now is the opportune time to address this out and so add value.
6. Be creative with Corporate HQ
Even if your hq won’t write you a cheque you may be able to:
- Send some of your people on their training courses
- Piggyback on their recruitment advertising
7. Consider outsourcing both internally and externally
Are there tasks that can be done more effectively by someone else? Could outsourcing free up your staff for higher value work?
Some interesting examples of this were:
- Reducing training costs whilst maintaining standards by training internal staff to act as trainers and mentors.
- Reduced cost per hire by outsourcing recruitment
8. Stick to the knitting
It’s important to note that all of our panel strongly advocated adherence to basic principles of:
1. Aligning HR strategy to overall business strategy
- To avoid knee jerk reactions to a drop in business
- To promote the HR function as key to succeeding in the change program
2. Communication and employee engagement are the keys to any change process
3. Measurable streamlined HR processes relevant to current and projected business needs
- To ensure transparency for all parties in the process
- To promote HR at the board table
9. Sometimes redundancy is unavoidable
In these situations it is imperative to plan a transition program both to maintain the dignity and well being of those leaving the organisation and create positive attitudes of those staying. Ensure your communications are clear – the reasons why, the selection procedures, the timeframes and the support package. Have empathy with those leaving, but don’t forget those that are being left behind …. the survivor syndrome.