Employees who shared the fruits of surplus must share the burden of the downturn

While organizations are trying their best to battle recession, what are the silent spectators (read: employees) who are actually at the receiving end thinking? Employees, who shared the fruits of abundance, are willing to share the burden of the downturn as well by lending a helping hand to their companies during these turbulent times. Here, they state their expectations from their organizations upfront and even suggest a few insightful tips to ride the storm.

It will help if people at the top who have a 30,000 feet view of the macro economic scenario, can share with us their perspective. For example, how do Obama’s policies impact our organization? How does the strengthening of the rupee affect us?. 1) HR should resort to a slew of non-financial reward mechanisms; after all, we all know, money is not the only way to recognize and reward, 2) an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. HR should work with the delivery folks gainfully deploy bench resources on various assignments, if not billable work, then internal projects 3) separations under difficult circumstances like this, require tremendous psychological strength. It would be great if HR could organize talks by spiritual leaders or psychological experts to help employees handle the guilt the perceived ignominy etc.

Several organizations are resorting to harsh measures like laying off employees to curb costs. Alternative advice can be 1) make a sincere attempt to re-tool and re-deploy where the opportunity exists, 2) don’t make the severance complete and absolute: the psychological damage is far worse than the financial loss, It might be better to have bench employees at 50% or 25% pay but on the rolls of the company rather than sever the umbilical cord and 3) even if that is unaffordable, let them go on a sabbatical, with no pay. At least, there is hope that they will be called back when things get better.
Career and leadership development should be HR’s priorities 1) the first step is for HR and senior leadership of the organization to communicate a strong but realistic message to all associates about the need for everyone to understand the need for all to scale up and skill up, 2) historically testing times have always yielded new innovations. HR should focus on building a system, which allows creativity/ideation to keep associates engaged and 3) HR leaders should focus on establishing a mentoring program, which would help associates understand themselves better

HR should focus more on associate engagement by pursuing talent development. A few tips: Instead of lay-offs, a company could look at alternatives such as reduced salary increments and monetary benefits across the board and if tax legal system allows – deferred payments. A certain amount of money is deferred based on performance. Deferred payments, tied up to performance also give a strong message that the company is looking for positive growth in the future, 2) forced leaves: Encourage associates to take vacations and in turn, reduce company’s obligation on leave encashment and 3) part time work: Work only for 70% of the time in a work week. Instead of laying off poor performance, de-list from employee rolls and enlist them as contractors with reduced benefits and part time needs.

It’s time to rectify a few flaws. This is a good time to take stock of human capital. Most of the time, organizations over hire and later, during tough times tend to start laying off people. It’s important to have a good balanced team with succession plans in place and run a lean well oiled machine. It is also a good time to even out consolidate the obscene salaries that were paid during better times. This is a good consolidation phase and if the HR industry can get its act together, we can look forward to better times ahead.

So, what are your expectations from HR? Have a concrete idea to beat the recession? Voice your opinion and Speak up. Your company will only be thrilled to listen.