It’s official – if you hadn’t already noticed we are now in a period of recession. As a result many business leaders believe that they have to reduce their overheads if they are to remain competitive throughout this economic downturn.
Historically, during a recession, the first cuts businesses have made have been the ones which most affect the workforce – e.g. job losses, recruitment bans, bonus reductions and training cuts.
However, drastic cuts to overheads may well turn out to be short sighted and managers should consider whether they are simply cutting costs or if they are actually reducing investment – a subtle but important difference. Andrew Smith, KPMG chief economist recently stated that: “While the pressures on business to control spending – both on staff and in other areas – are real and intensifying, there has to be a balance between cutting costs now and the risk of lasting damage to the business through inadequate investment for the longer term.” (1)
Sarah Jones, chief executive of Ufi (2), recently commissioned a report called “Nurturing Talent” which concluded that: “Organisations must focus on nurturing talent if they are to survive, grow and succeed. The continuous development and growth of people is inextricably linked to business performance. “The business case for developing staff is compelling. Effective training can reduce staff turnover and absenteeism, improve motivation, increase productivity, and help boost customer satisfaction.”
It is quite clear that continued staff development is a feature of successful businesses – a view echoed by Peter Mandelson; Secretary of state for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform who, in a recent interview with The Times newspaper, said: “During these difficult times many businesses will look at how to rein in costs. Evidence shows, though, that those that invest in training are less likely to fail. And first-class work-place skills will be key to prospering when the economy turns up. I know people face tough decisions, but I would urge businesses to invest in skills and training to ensure that they are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities when global economic conditions improve.”(3)
At evolution we can help you and your business not simply to survive but to thrive throughout this recession.
Our top ten tips for success:
- Think about your long-term objectives as well as your short term goals.
- In a recession it’s all too easy to resort to knee jerk reactions. Hold your nerve and re-visit your strategic plan.
- Is it still fit for purpose?
- Plan strategically
- Consider what you need to do to ensure that you meet or exceed all of the objectives in your strategic plan.
- What has changed?
- Review your resources
- Ask yourself whether your current resources are adequate for the task in hand.
- Set a realistic budget.
- Carry out a skills analysis
- Design a matrix to compare the skills you have to the skills you need.
- Identify the critical skills gap and make this a priority for investment.
- Remember that people may have skills you aren’t aware of – skills which they gained in a previous job or non-work related activity.
- Utilise the existing workforce
- It is usually cheaper and more efficient to develop existing staff than to recruit for a specific skill set.
- Existing staff may make good trainers – give them training skills so that they can pass on their own skills and knowledge more effectively. This is the pathway to a multi-skilled workforce.
- Set Objectives with every member of your workforce
- People work more effectively when they know exactly what is expected of them.
- When you negotiate (rather than impose) objectives people will usually set themselves more challenging targets than you would.
- Introduce an effective performance management system.
- This is the best way to make sure that every single person on your payroll is operating at their full potential.
- Appraisals are a good way of assessing ability, motivating people and communicating the organisational goals.
- Let your staff know you value them.
- Recognition is by far and away the best motivator – but it doesn’t have to be expensive – praise is free and works wonders.
- People are also motivated by job interest and increased responsibility – don’t be afraid to ask more of your staff – your success is their job security.
- Talk to your employees. Keep them informed through regular briefings and face to face communication. People are always more afraid of the unknown than they are of the real facts.
- Communication works two ways – listen to your staff – they will have ideas too. At evolution we often say that managers don’t have to have all the answers – they just have to know the right questions.
- Invest in outside help if you need it.
- Training, coaching, mentoring and facilitation can all have a huge impact on your business.
- You are the experts in your field – focus on adding value to your business in the best way you can and buy in the best outside help when you need it.
Evolution personal and corporate development Ltd. can help you with:
Strategic planning, coaching, mentoring, management development, train the trainer, communication and influencing skills, sales training, training needs analysis and much, much more.
We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs and to help you to thrive in this recession.
References in this article
- CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook (LMO) sourced at http://www.cipd.co.uk/pressoffice/_articles/101108jobsstandstill.htm
- Ufi is the University for Industry www.ufi.com