My first response is to ask ‘what improvement’? The US may now be technically out of recession, but the UK’s still got some way to go… see the latest housing prices figures (and I’m having a tough day!).
Jessica Miller-Merrell at Blogging 4 Jobs notes that even in the US, the recovery is going to have a “"W” or a slow “V” shape. And over at the Business Execution blog, Erik and Keith predict it’ll be a “U” shaped recovery. Perhaps the appropriate letter for the UK is an “L” (see, I told you).
Jessica suggests the following very sensible proposals:
- Poll our employees
- Seek feedback
- Take action
- Follow Up
- Build a Candidate Pipeline.
And Erik suggests companies need to:
- Have “Execution Agility” as well as “Strategic Agility”
- Let people inform the strategy
- Make amends for cutting headcount, freezing pay, slashing benefits, decreasing hours, etc, and invest in Status and Fairness.
I think Erik and Jessica are right to focus on engagement. This is clearly going to be an issue for employers as (when!) the economy improves. I thought Management Today summed it up nicely:
“More than one in five UK workers reckon that they rarely or never feel fulfilled by their jobs, according to a new survey by workplace assessment specialists SHL. This dissatisfaction (which is particularly prevalent among young people) has apparently got even worse as a result of the recession. And although workers are reluctant to act on it for the time being, it supposedly could mean a mass exodus once the job market starts functioning properly again...”
Rather over-optimistically perhaps, I spent quite a bit of time focusing on how companies could engage people to prepare for the recovery at the beginning of the recession (naive fool!), and these suggestions are probably more relevant now, so you might want to check out:
- Scenarios for HR’s future in the global reset
- HR’s main priority
- CIPD Managing through a Downturn Conference
- Talking HR show #10: Navigating your way out of the recession.
But I’d like to make one more suggestion too. And this pick’s up on Erik’s comment that “what drives high performance is a person’s social and emotional connection to work”, and also Jessica’s that “it’s the relationship that matters”.
To me, the new priority is to develop social as well as human capital. Yes, human capital is still going to be vital. But if the W/V/U/L recovery is, as many people are predicting, a relatively jobless one, then organisations are going to need to do more than just optimising the engagement and alignment of their people.
They’re going to need to optimise the way their people work together too. I think this is going to involve much more than just the use of Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. Instead, it’s going to have to be about an appropriate mix of effective leadership, HR and management practices, OD interventions, and yes, web 2.0 tools as well.
More about this soon…