The New Year’s Resolutions HR Should Have Made (Note: there is still time!)

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Expert Perspective from Grahall’s OmniMedia Editorial Board

Of course, we are technically three weeks into the New Year, but there is still time to take stock of your HR plans and consider what steps you can take to make the most of the opportunities for and dodge the threats to your valuable human resource assets.

We can’t predict the future and many would say there are plenty of unknowns about the employment market for 2011, but one thing is for sure, the US is slowly recovering.  According to a January 14, 2011 article by Economics Writer Jeannine Averaa, published on Yahoo (Industrial production rises by most in 5 months) “Overall industrial activity has risen 11 percent since hitting its recession low in June 2009. But it is still 6 percent below its peak reached in September 2007.”   The article continues, quoting Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, saying: “recent economic activity suggests the economic recovery is through its soft patch… [with] stronger growth this year, between 3.5 percent and 4 percent.”

Ron Scherer, staff writer for the CS Monitor writes in his January 7, 2011 article (Unemployment rate drops to 9.4 percent, but little cheer in jobless report) “The US economy finished 2010 with only lukewarm job gains [and]…  the unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent – its lowest level since May 2009, which partially reflects fewer people actively looking for work.”

Discouragement on the part of job seekers isn’t surprising since, according to the article: “From the start of the recession in December 2007 to its end in June 2009, the US economy lost between 6 million and 8 million jobs. In 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy gained only 700,000 jobs back after not adding any jobs in 2009.”

So what does economic recovery with stubborn unemployment mean for HR? Simply that your BEST employees remain key targets for recruiters.   If you haven’t taken the necessary step yet to retain these individuals, you must get started, NOW.  They first fundamental step in the process, which is often overlooked, is to determine which positions and which people are key to your company’s success.  As we said on our blog When the Going Gets Tough Keep the Best From Going , first identify the key roles and those people who contribute most to the bottom line, then create the infrastructure that supports, develops, nurtures and appropriately compensates these individuals.

High unemployment coupled with the fact that many companies have had to rein in incentive program, raises, and bonuses in order to survive give recovering and growing companies the opportunity to upgrade talent without over spending. At the same time a company identifies its key positions, it must determine if the individuals holding those positions are top talent.  If not, this jobs market can offer the chance to improve key talent in critical positions while controlling compensation and recruitment costs.

Whether yours is one of the many companies now showing a return to profitability or even if your company is still struggling, consider enlisting outside support to identify those things helping to grow or to slow your return to profitability. In the same way you can’t study the road map while you are driving at 70 miles an hour, a “navigator” for your business might spur faster and more positive results.  And as far as HR is concerned, that navigator needs help you review your incentive programs to ensure that they are promoting the right behaviors and discouraging behaviors that are unwanted.

Carpe Diem, HR!  And, more importantly, Carpe Novus Annus, HR!

Contact Grahall’s OmniMedia Editorial Board at edie.kingston@grahall.com

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