HR WhatNow : Recession Survival Guide List (2 of 2) August 4, 2020

National Day on August 09

Singapore enters technical recession as GDP plunges 12.6% in Q2

For the readers who are currently operating in any capacity of the HR personnel in a company it is official: Singapore has entered into its worse economy performance, possibly, since its founding year. Report read here.

This is the situation that we all as companies operating in Singapore have to deal with and many of the companies you are in may succumb to the pressures of sustaining workforce costs amidst diminishing revenues.

Companies committed to surviving a recession have an obligation to their employees and this is the time where the human resources departments play an integral role in reassuring employees about matters such as job security, earnings and the company’s strategic direction.

There are so many underlying themes for HR to deal with during a recession, layoffs, restructures, mergers, salary adjustments, withholding allowances & benefits, morale, sentiments; and the list goes on.

We have compiled a 2-part survival guide series for you.

This is part 2 of the series that we have collated and created from various opinions around the web. You can read Part 1 here.

While it is impossible to provide all the answers within an article especially since no one is in the same situation with the same conditions, but in best efforts we hope you can draw from some principles and concepts to get to your desired solution.

Workforce management

Recruiting is a function that is often flagged to be scaled back, and sometimes reductions there make good sense. If you’re rightsizing your organization, you may need fewer recruiters.

HR departments should be willing to look hard at their own budgets instead of worrying about building fiefdoms. A crisis is a golden opportunity for HR personnel to highlight their business acumen. Using high business logic, to come back to the organization and say, ‘We’re not just a cost. We’ve got a business that will save this organization money.’ That’s the way to absolutely cement your position.

Managing Staff

HR personnel who have been around a while know that the impact of a recession can be eased when the organization is in a position to react quickly to changing conditions.

  • Ensure flexibility. Develop a plan to move people to where they’re needed most. Look at the demographics of your workforce so you can anticipate future needs and groom people to take on jobs from within the company when a slowdown suspends hiring.

    Technology affects how future staffing needs may change. For instance, to make hiring decisions strategic, technology incorporation can impact staffing levels and comes with high capital costs that need to be absorbed. A contingency plan for the technology can be made so that cutting or expanding as the economy changes is possible. A company implementing new technology needs to think about both which jobs can be reduced and which ones, such as IT positions for people to support the new technology, need to be increased.

  • Alternative work schedules. Arrangement such as 30-hour workweeks, which can reduce costs while preserving continuity. Some of the technology that we at Enable provide are being used to perform some of the jobs the HR staff handles, such as onboarding or training.

  • Optimize outsourcing. Many companies that are sensitive about the economy have already become more flexible by carefully deciding what work should be handled by employees versus what should be outsourced. An agile outsourcing strategy can allow organizations to pull back more quickly when necessary.

  • Retaining the Best Employees. Sometimes it’s unavoidable to let marginal employees go during tough economic times, top performers are a valuable commodity that employers want to keep. If a cut in employees has left holes in some departments, redirecting remaining staff to fill those voids is an effective use of the work force. This method not only promotes efficiency from a company standpoint, but it also increases the sense of job security for workers.

  • Show empathy. One of the worst practices in handling layoffs may be to treat departing workers like criminals and walk them out the door with security—and then to discourage remaining workers from ever mentioning them.
  • Keeping Employees Motivated. One of simplest ways to keep employees motivated is through recognition of their efforts. As companies align themselves to maintain competitiveness in their industries, HR pros must remember to acknowledge workers’ efforts in the task. Especially when one or two employees go above and beyond expected performance, demonstrating appreciation through gestures like gift card awards or a shout out in a company newsletter add to overall employee satisfaction — regardless of whether or not the economy is in recession.
  • Avoid recurring layoffs. Organizations need to avoid a demoralizing cycle of repeated layoffs. You’re not going to get the best out of people when they are scared for long periods of time. Frightened people don’t do much good.
  • Demonstrate gratitude. It’s important to show appreciation to staff who are taking on more responsibilities as others leave. That can come in the form of new titles, development opportunities or other recognition. Any show of appreciation helps quell workers’ fears that they will be the next ones cut. Something as simple and inexpensive as a gift card or lunch can show workers that the company notices and acknowledges their efforts. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to tell people ‘thank you.

– In Summary –

Human resource professionals working to bring employers the greatest return on employee investment are faced with additional challenges in recessionary times. Processes and practices that work well during times of growth often need to be tweaked or thrown out altogether when the economy stalls. As company operations realign to maintain profitability, human resource personnel are called on to find the most effective means of using employee talents.

Recessions end eventually, and HR needs to have a plan to kick-start hiring when the recovery begins. So the HR folks don’t really get to rest, You work during a recession. You work out of a recession. You have to be prepared to work quickly because if you don’t. Your Competition Will.

– End of part 2 of 2 –

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Established in 2013, enable Consulting is a specialised HR solutions provider for small and medium-sized enterprises.

We believe that having a strong and robust HR function is a key driver for continuous growth in any successful business. It is on this belief that we have built many successful partnerships with clients across different industries.

We are a people business and it is our talent pool that defines us. Each and every one of our consultants is highly professional with many years of experience in HR management and services.

Our Consultants are PMC certified to further be able to help local SMEs improve and optimise their HR operational efficiency through Singapore Grants. enable is about offering affordable, high value adding solutions to improve business performance; while at the same time nurturing and inspiring a fair and respectful working environment. But above all, enable is about enabling you.

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