HR Changes post recession

With the economy headed towards recovery, organizations are determined to translate the learning derived out of the turbulent 2009 into lucrative actions in order to ensure a promising productive year ahead. This means HR will introduce changes in policies, processes and procedures. And employees will have to move out of their comfort zones and embrace change, even if you are resistant to it. After all, there is nothing wrong with change, if it’s in the right direction.

Didn’t you find the new environment of your school very intimidating as a kid on the very first day? You must have encountered a lot of adjusted issues when you had to shift to a completely new city to pursue further education? You ought to have cribbed after moving to a new country for a job when you didn’t get the food of your choice? How amazed were you food of your choice? How amazed were you when after a five year long courtship you had your first major fight? And how disappointed were you when you received a deducted salary slip last year? What is that one common factor in the above cited instances that binds all of them together? The answer is change. Last year, we all dreaded the R word didn’t we? Recession? Retrenchment? Restructuring? Redeployment? The transition made from 2008 (a rewarding year in terms of increments) to 2009 (a rather challenging year) and now to 2010 (that seems relatively promising and optimistic) is daunting and we had to and we continue to adopt to change. Is it pleasant process? Certainly not, after all no body wants to leave one’s comfort zone, right? But as experts say change is constant. So, as companies try to implement the lesson learnt from 2009 to practice in 2010 how can you, as employee embrace change.

If we take into account the last decade, India Inc witnessed a period where employees saw fast growth, fancy designations and huge increments. However, last year, when we were hit by tough economic conditions, companies resorted to quick fixes and took some strong measures like layoffs, pay revisions, rationalization and cost cuts. With the economy reviving we may take a sign of relief; however as employees we need to shed the entitlement mentality that was created as a result of fast growth and double digit increments through the decade. Going forward, organizations will continue to control costs, regulate and rationalize resources and continue to play safe. As employees, we need to be realistic in our expectations given the market conditions into account.

Keeping employees appraised positively by sharing the real challenges, the organization faces in the work environment providing them with the motivation to ride the tough wave and remain above choppy waters, equipping them with the tools to deal with the rough environment are a few tasks the company ought to be doing. This will build the fighting spirit ad would lead to a sense of accountability and ownership to steer the organization out of the rough weather and thereby, create a heightened sense of belongingness in employees. It is therefore evident that organizations are implementing changes, but are you ready to accept it?

Employees often first respond to change from what’s in it for me? Uncertainty on emotionally charged subjects like pay, work schedules, training, reporting relationships and reductions in force should therefore be addressed as early and tactfully as possible. Do you willingly welcome the change as a challenge? Or are you open to change that is only absolutely necessary? Or do you prefer change to be implemented gradually? Different people react to change differently. For a change management program to be effectively implemented, it is imperative that employees understand when the change is necessary what it comprises of and what is required of them.

Employees need to be catalyst of change. Three key ways through which employees can be more willing to embrace change: 1) be sensitive and realistic about the situation and circumstances governing an industry or market. Once there is acceptance of change amongst employees, the process becomes successful and fruitful for all 2) for long term sustainability of any change initiative you need to understand the key rationale along with the benefits and consequences and 3) be it H1N1, political / economic polarization, recession or any other major event, employees need to be well equipped to quickly navigate and manage these challenges. There is a need to sharpen your existing skills, acquire new skills and remain on continuous learning mode as this will facilitate to change acceptance process. Employees will have increased work load, both horizontal and vertical and thereby have to quickly acquire competencies required or the enlargement / required or the enlargement /enrichment of the roles.

Change is inevitable. And there is no way through which you can escape it. The key therefore is to make it work towards your advantage.