Leading your Team through a Recession

Let’s face it: the world is going through a turbulent time. An ongoing war, political crisis, and rising inflation are only some of the obstacles to navigate. This global insecurity is top-of-mind for people and businesses everywhere. Everyone will need to adapt to the uncertainty but for business leaders, learning to manage it is crucial.  

HR leaders will need to be agile, and forward-thinking to support their workforce. In this blog post, we want to go over some tactics HR leaders can focus on how to set their organization up for success. 

Review Benefit Packages

When companies start to slow down, the first thing that usually happens is cost-cutting measures. This can be particularly stressful, especially when evaluating layoffs comes into the picture. That is why we recommend doing a review of your employee benefits and programs now vs. waiting before a crisis hits.

Ask yourself, what is the true cost and benefit to employees and the company? This way you can decide which benefits you can still realistically offer, and which ones you could cut.

For example, during a downturn companies might want to cut leadership training for their managers. Yet cutting this training hurts the business and team more as managers aren’t able to motivate their team to succeed.

Develop a “worst-case” scenario plan

Depending on the business, some layoffs might be unavoidable due to unforeseen market scenarios. Work with the leadership team to identify what areas will need to have a reduction if the worst-case scenario happens. If this situation arises, approach this with empathy and support your leaders with a communication strategy that helps affected employees feel valued. (We recommend reading this article to support your layoff strategy).

Double down on Employee Engagement

In a recession, this is a perfect opportunity to focus efforts on your talent management approach. With reduced time spent on hiring, you can use it to better understand how engaged your employees are and where there are potential skill gaps. This is key as the more engaged your employees are the more they can help drive innovative solutions, especially in times of downturn. So where can you start? 

Create an Employee Engagement Survey

Create a survey that everyone can quickly and easily fill out. If there are a lot of changes happening consider using a shorter survey around 2-3 questions that you send out each week. This can help you to monitor changes, and fix pain points before they become problems. (Need support here? Check out Platypus

Enable Team Managers to support their teams

Work with managers to get an understanding of the performance of their teams. What skills are currently missing or which can be improved? From here you can decide how to allocate a budget to support your employees. We see most of our partners focusing their efforts on leadership training to support their leaders with new skills on how to lead through uncertainty. (A great course for this is our Lead F program)

Don’t Forget Employer Branding

Just because you have a hiring freeze, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on how your employer brand is received. Now is a great time to audit your messaging on your career page, external review sites, and social media. Is the message you are projecting matching your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)? 

Refine your EVP

We recently did an employer branding workshop for a client and defined their EVP:

“At (client name) we value teamwork, and flexibility. We support you in getting your best work done, wherever and however is ideal for you. We also want you to grow with us. To support this we offer perks like leadership training, team learning sessions and ESOPs so that every employee can share in our success.”

With this defined EVP, they focused on updating their message to share stories of how employees used the leadership training, or how they work with this flexibility in hours/home office.   

Define your EVP with a group of 4-5 employees across different departments and seniority levels. From here you can update messages (as suggested in the section above), and tactics accordingly. This will help you not only attract top talent in the future but also help you to retain current employees.

Think about Uncertainty as a Constant

The one thing that will remain over the next few months is: uncertainty. Being prepared as an HR leader is 50% of the equation. Being agile, and pivoting to focus on employee engagement or employer branding topics will help your company succeed. 

If you are looking for leadership training, or help with employer branding, reach out to Amelia for a 15 minute call to learn more about how we can support you.

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