One of the challenges of the continuing downturn has been to convince
business leaders to take a long-term approach and not a hatchet job to
assessment and development when trading is difficult.
This week’s coverage on HR strategy, performance management and talent
(pages 23-32) is heartening in that it shows some companies did learn from the
last recession. Despite depressed trading, many companies have been committed
to maintaining budgets and effort in key HR areas in the belief that such
consistency towards employees will put them in a stronger position when the
The prize for those who follow the longer view will be improved
productivity, lower recruitment costs and better retention, but it inevitably
takes a while for results to shine through. Contrary to what many might like to
think, HR never was about quick fixes.
Sun Microsystems, T-Mobile and Virgin Atlantic are just a few of the
enlightened companies with the confidence to avoid short-termism. Some are
investing in developing their top management; others are working hard at
identifying the talent not only within their own business but in the wider
T-Mobile, for instance, ensures its exit interviews are a positive
experience and maintains contact with talented employees long after they have
left. The pay-off may be years hence, but T-Mobile has a clear people vision
undiminished by competitive pressures.
HR and training professionals should be motivated by companies thinking this
way. The common trait of such businesses is that they have won the argument
about HR impacting on the bottom line and have people strategies embedded in
business goals. Other companies would do well to emulate them.
Charity must begin at home
When the public donate their hard-earned cash to charity, they want it all
to be spent on the cause.
People – and even grant-giving trusts for that matter – do not like their
money being spent on the pay bill. Consequently, charities err on the side of
caution when setting salaries. But low wages are leading to severe recruitment
and retention problems (see page 13).
While volunteers play a vital role in the work of many charities, the ethos
cannot be allowed to undermine the quality of staff – charities have to compete
on salaries and benefits.