Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | February 15, 2012

Best Time To Upgrade Talent Pool? During An Economic Downturn

As deteriorating performance forces increasingly aggressive head count reductions, it’s easy to lose valuable contributors, damage morale, or drop the ball on important training and staff-development programs.

Companies can maintain their attractiveness to internal and external talent by using cost-cutting efforts as an opportunity to re-design jobs so that they become more engaging for the people undertaking them.  Head count reductions provide powerful incentives to use existing resources better by breaking down silos and increasing the span of control for challenging managerial roles—which improves the odds of engaging key talent.

In addition to re-designing roles, companies cutting jobs should carefully protect training and development programs. These are not only essential to maintaining workplace morale and increasing long-term productivity, they also give people the skills necessary to carry out the newly designed jobs.

Before undertaking widespread layoffs, companies should use their performance-management processes to help identify strong employees. Companies that conduct disciplined, merit-based assessments of performance and potential are well placed to make good personnel decisions.  These companies should bring additional strategic considerations such as (i) which types of talent drive business value today, and (ii) which will drive it three years from now.  Also important is information pertaining to which talent segments are currently available and which will be in the future.  Critical to this analysis is the understanding of which types of talent will take years to replace or develop— in an environment where retirements are dramatically reducing supply.

Using slowdowns to uncover and hire displaced talent is often fruitful.   Studies have shown that although overall levels of recruitment may level off or even fall, the quality of workers hired rises in recessions.  Opportunities to find and hire displaced talent may be particularly valuable during our current economic downturn.

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

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