HR Solutions in the time of recession:
Train, Restructure and Gain 80% Savings
By: Riham El-Hawary
Founder and Director
The full consequences of the current global recession might not have hit the Egyptian market yet. Nonetheless, pundits have confirmed that we will witness its outcome one way or another. As we still have the luxury to prepare for facing the recession, we need to start acting immediately on finding the most convenient solutions to overcome this downturn, not just with the least possible casualties, but also with long-term benefits.
Human resources (HR) departments have become an integral part of every successful company. However, HR is a very demanding business aspect that requires constant development, and we simply can’t afford to ignore this fact by claiming that companies will not be able to maintain the same amount of spending on HR as a result of the financial turmoil. Companies will have to realize the importance of HR departments in leading them out of this global crisis.
Despite the mounting difficulties companies will endure, a number of solutions can be very crucial in maintaining the quality of people development during the turmoil. Times of recession can be a golden opportunity for companies to re-assess their performance.
The role of human resources departments in any company consists of three main tasks; soft skills training and coaching, hiring and firing, and placement as well as management consultation influencing organizational development. Accomplishing each of these three tasks will need to be achieved using a different approach during a recession. This new approach needs to be productive, as well as less time and money consuming.
In-house training and coaching
Companies normally have two sources for soft-skills training; outsourced and in-house. Outsourced training is very important. It is carried out by a specialized local or foreign company with accumulated experience in working with well-established firms and time-dedication to follow up with the implementation of their offered courses. On the other hand, it might not be the prefect solution for HR development in light of the financial crisis, as it is expensive and takes longer time to learn and implement. That’s why companies need to emphasise more on in-house training for the duration of the economic decline.
Rather than sending large number of employees to be trained at the hands of specialists, each company can send two or three HR personnel, depending on the company’s headcount. Those personnel through two-day courses, learn to apply the basic tools needed to customise, personalise and deliver soft-skills training courses. Immediately, upon course completion, they will be ready to carry out in-house soft skills training for the rest of their company’s employees. The soft skills training delivered will be customized according to both the needs of the firm they work for as well as the demands imposed by the existing financial crisis.
In the realm of these unfortunate conditions, the burden of sustainability and corporate recovery lies in the hands of Managing Directors and Chief Executives, whose status is often overlooked by the HR specialist. This mundane task has a negative effect on their mental health and stress is often the result. Avoiding the quicksand effect, those who are in the first line of fire need the empowerment of executive coaching to overcome the ensuing stress and challenges on their own time and at their own pace.
Assessment before firing
We all have to admit that the economic turndown will result in the cutting down of employees in many big corporations. Even so, companies need to be very careful in dealing with the hiring and firing process. Every employee should be assessed thoroughly before he is laid off, and this assessment needs to be based on his soft skills in dealing with the current circumstances and not his previous accomplished results. Stress can affect employees' abilities and what an employee achieved in the time of a prosperous or stable economy might not be maintained in a worse financial climate as. Companies need people with certain personal abilities, who will be able to handle such stress and are capable of functioning properly during the financial meltdown.
Companies should send out selected HR personnel to be trained on profiling each job and assessing the behaviour needed to carry out this job before determining who will be useful to stay or go. Afterwards, an objective assessment of the employee carrying this job can take place. This is the only way to guarantee that firing decisions will be taken systematically, justifiably and fairly. This system can also be very useful for companies on the long run as such best-fit tools will help them understand who within their personnel is capable of doing what and in which department.
HR departments will be able to point out each employee’s strengths and weaknesses and act upon them by training. Additionally, these assessments will give corporations more credibility and improve their image in the eyes of both their clients and staff members. People will know exactly why someone is being let off or staying.
With regards to corporate social responsibility towards their staff (CSR), companies can use their surplus staff to carry out tasks until the financial situation improves. Personnel who are listed for layoffs can be successfully repositioned in other less-resourced departments. They can also be informed of what they need to improve in order to avoid getting layoff in the future. As for the remaining staff, firms will have to keep them motivated by equipping them in facing the financial problem, increase their awareness of the quicksand effect and ask them to work with highly ranked managers on finding the best possible solutions.
Similarly, firms need to train their personnel on how to deal with clients and the whole business climate in the time of recession. The crisis might take its toll on many, and employers will have to deploy a professional manner in dealing with people’s frustrations.
Executives within each company can be trained and receive accreditation from training firms on how to consult. Of course they will not be as experienced nor have the time as specialized consultants, but they are the experts in having the first hand knowledge of their company’s needs, problems and aspirations.
This will cut down firms’ expenses from one side and help them build foundations for internal qualified consultants on the other. It will also help companies preserve confidentiality, which will be very crucial during recession, as any leaked information or rumour can result in massive losses.
Depending on in-house training as a temporary phase in developing human resources is not a modern idea. It is tried and tested and has been used before to overcome similar economic troubles. It would decrease companies’ expenses by 80 to 85 percent compared to what is paid out on HR training and coaching now.
Instead of being the first victim of the financial crisis, human resources among local and multinational companies in Egypt
- Depending on in-house training and executives coaching.
- Increasing the role of in-house corporate solutions.
- Supporting employees in facing the tough financial situation and uncertainties.
- Carrying out thorough assessments before taking firing decisions.
- Planning ahead and mobilizing for post-recession
- Focusing on reassessing, restructuring, researching and development.
Surviving and overcoming an economic downturn entirely depend on how innovative, practical and persistent the corporate brains are. This is only attained by searching for solutions and developing corporate brains.