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HR must prepare for the upturn by forward planning

first_img Previous Article Next Article HR must prepare for the upturn by forward planningOn 24 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today There is a need to woo talented staff now, ready for the economy’s recoveryThe duration of the current economic downturn has even surpassed theexpectations of some of the best economists. While redundancies and restructuring are commonplace, HR managers failing tofocus on recruitment are risking the long-term future of their companies. As HR professionals, we know that recruitment is dynamic. We know it cannotsimply be turned on or off according to the economic conditions. We also knowthat companies that choose to ignore recruitment risk never recovering from aneconomic downturn. HR will need to convince the board of this strategy – it is certain therewill be screams for a headcount cut when the bottom line begins to falter. Andas the economy limps on, HR managers face a crisis that could make or break thecompanies they are working for. They need to prove to the board that a stagnant recruitment function is partof a shortsighted strategy, and usually the result of over-reaction toquarterly results. The double impact of a global slowdown and the events of September 11, forexample, meant a scythe was swung through hundreds of thousands of jobs acrossall sectors. I am not saying the majority of these redundancies were notneeded, but the rashness with which they were executed bore the hallmark of aknee-jerk reaction. During this rather ambiguous downturn, some companies are downsizing,restructuring and recruiting all at the same time. However, even when a companyis not looking to recruit, to ignore the recruitment function during hard timesis to risk the stability and reputation of the company in better times. It is essential to plan ahead for the upturn, rather than simply manage thehere and now. Specialist recruiters are often the first to be axed, but how canan HR department hope to secure the best candidates without the very employeeswho can recruit the right people for the job once that recovery begins? More importantly, HR also needs a fundamental shift in its thinking. Wecould learn a great deal from our counterparts in the sales and marketingprofessions. We must adopt a more business-like attitude to recruitment, wherepotential candidates are regarded as customers who we need to aggressivelymarket our company to. It sounds so simple and, quite frankly, it can be. HR needs to acknowledgethat the downturn won’t last forever, and that we shall soon need to recruit tofill the gaps. To enable efficient recruitment, it is vital that the HRdepartment manages its community of candidates during the downturn. Take graduate recruitment, for example. Something as simple as sending acongratulations card to a graduate who has just received their results can bean invaluable gesture from an employer to a potential employee. Experiencetells us that candidates need to be kept ‘warm’ during the recruitment process,and companies should never be complacent enough to assume that candidates arenot in touch with your competitors. HR will always need to retain its essential soft skills, but new words canenter the HR vocabulary. Think customer relationship management; thinkmarketing; think technology; think speed and accuracy. A downturn can be used as a fallow recruitment period in which the HRdepartment could be responsible for promoting the company’s profile andreputation among potential candidates and competitors. When the economyeventually picks up, therefore, the company will already be half way toattracting and recruiting the best candidates. Now is the time for HR to raise its game to ensure that it acts as theguardian of the future, rather than the bastion of the past. Mark Tennant, vice-president of resourcing at Accenture HR Services(formerly e-peopleserve). Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more