There is no doubt that 2009 is going to be a tough year for employers. Many will need to cut costs and staff numbers, and keep their organisations going with what remains. It will be a year of difficult decisions for HR professionals, who are not immune themselves from cutbacks.
It is also a year of great opportunity for HR. This is an unmissable chance to show what the HR function can bring to a company. Yes, there will be tough choices to make, but by working closely with the rest of the business, HR can help ensure the right ones are made to bring your organisation through the recession and put it in the best possible position to take full advantage of the recovery - whenever that may be.
In this survival special issue, we offer some top tips for getting through the year ahead. We talk to a selection of top HR directors about their personal challenges and opportunities, and ask them for predictions and advice to help the wider community in the year ahead. We also bring you some timely advice on managing what are likely to be considerably shrunken 2009 HR budgets.
But first, Helen Williams asks three highly respected experts from the worlds of academia, economics and workplace policy, outside HR but keenly involved and interested in the profession, what they expect from the coming year. The message is remarkably consistent - it's going to be tough, but 2009 really is the chance for HR to shine. And Personnel Today will of course be here to guide you through.
Nick Holley, executive director, HR Centre of Excellence, Henley Business School
I love this story from the Falklands war. In an interview, it was pointed out to the RAF fighter pilots about to set off that there were 20 of them against 450 Argentinean jets. "So what do you think about the odds?" they were asked. And they said: "Well, we don't really see it like that - we see it as a target-rich environment."
I see this as a target-rich environment for HR. I don't think there is anything that HR needs to do differently, as long as it's already doing the right thing, which is to be incredibly close to the business, and responding to the needs of the business, not driving an HR-centric agenda. I see this as a huge opportunity for HR.
That might mean that