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Preparing for the Road Ahead - Tough Times are the Most Critical to Invest in Your People


Many organizations have been forced to take drastic measures to survive. The effects of these actions will continue to challenge organizations, especially as the economy begins to recover. As a result of multiple layoffs, pay cuts, and shutdowns, the current workforce feels overworked, tired, undervalued, and stuck. But they won’t be stuck indefinitely…far from it. Research shows that when employment rates rise — as they eventually will — people start moving, and they start moving fast. So what can you do to position your organization for success and prevent valued talent from leaving when the economy improves? Invest in your number-one resource — your people.

Over the years, many individuals have balked at the idea of putting more money into the people they fear losing. The most common question is, “What if I spend the time and money to develop an individual and they become so marketable that they leave?”

Of course this can happen, but more often it will encourage talent to stay and develop into an even more valuable resource. In addition, if you fail to invest in your people, you run the risk of a less engaged staff, higher job turnover rates and, ultimately, a higher cost to the organization.

Here are the top 6½ ways you can invest in your people while keeping costs low in this economic climate:

  1. Invest in your managers. The single most important factor in retaining valued employees is the relationship between staff members and their immediate supervisors. Leaders at all levels need leadership training and should be equipped to optimize and retain their top talent.
  2. Stay close to your top talent. Take the time now to talk to your most highly valued employees about their future, and provide career growth and development opportunities. People want challenging and meaningful work, as well as recognition for work well done. Provide key talent with strategic and deliberate stretch assignments and cross-functional training opportunities. As the economy improves, it’s your top talent that will have the most opportunities to leave.
  3. Make better hiring decisions. As individuals leave and business grows, positions will open up. Investing in a pre-hire assessment process will increase the performance of new hires, reduce turnover, improve organizational fit, and increase efficiency in the hiring process.
  4. Listen to your staff. People want their voices to be heard. Provide avenues for communication, such as one-on-one talks with supervisors or employee surveys. Provide feedback that their input was acted on or considered.
  5. Share an optimistic yet realistic vision for the future. During challenging times, people want to know you have a plan. They want their leaders to be optimistic, yet realistic. Communicate specific actions that individuals at all levels can take to support your organization’s goals. This helps people feel a direct connection to your organization’s main objectives.
  6. Avoid ineffective cost cutting. Locking down office supplies may appear to be a cost savings but could backfire. Small takeaways can have a large impact on morale.
Last but not least…show appreciation to your staff. A simple “thank you” goes a long way.

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