Several economic indicators suggest that the global economy is tentatively working its way back to recovery. However, many economists and industry experts are predicting that recovery will be slow, and one of the last areas to regain its strength will be employment. With their central role in hiring, HR professionals have a front-row seat to any changes in the job market, and they have been a valuable source of information on employment trends throughout the recession. Most HR professionals, however, communicate optimism about the job market over the coming months, many still stand wary of the current circumstances. As organizations prepare for what will hopefully be a healthier job market than before, the real challenge for all HR professionals is to take stock and consider the impact of recession on employee engagement. These assessments could impact turnover, recruiting effort, and employee performance in the months ahead.
The impact of the long-lasting recession on employee morale & engagement will continue to influence HR decisions throughout the coming years. In the early part of the year, employers may be relying strongly on their current workforce. Many organizations are likely to put off hiring as they try to make up for revenue lost in the downturn by boosting the productivity of their existing workforce to its maximum before adding in new workers. Even if organizations do add workers, many will start with temporary and contract workers and continue to rely on their core workforce for the continuity and tacit knowledge needed to achieve higher rates of productivity. This means employers will be relying on their long-term employees the most, at a time when many may be reaching burnout or looking for opportunities elsewhere.
Not only has the recession been a long one, with employees dealing with significantly heavier workloads for extended periods as their organizations have attempted to make do with leaner operations, but many organizations have implemented additional measures such as salary freezes, furloughs, reduced benefits, and increments in working hours. Many organizations have also conducted layoffs at least once, or in some cases, several times over the course of the recession. The current trend indicates that these organizations may be the most vulnerable to losing valued employees when the job market picks up.
HR professionals rate several factors as potential challenges, with varying degrees of concern once the economy recovers. These range from reinstating benefits, to boosting employee morale, to staffing and recruiting issues. HR professionals report that their organizations will respond to these challenges by continuing to communicate openly with employees, keeping technology costs down, and re-training employees for new positions in the organization. Some of the viable options to reengineer & navigate these unprecedented challenges could be as follows.
Only time can tell how quickly recovery will take place or how strongly the job market will bounce back in the coming years. Some factors that are currently of little concern to HR professionals may become very important depending on new developments in the economy. Emerging HR professionals and leaders should be developing scenarios around many of these challenges over the coming months so that when the economy takes another turn, hopefully, this time for the better, they will be ready.