Nationwide HR chief says honesty is best way to calm staff credit crunch fears

The HR chief at the world’s biggest building society has urged HR departments to be upfront with staff about the impact of the economic crisis on their organisation.

John Wrighthouse, HR director at Nationwide, said HR departments should go beyond providing obligatory trading information during the credit crunch.

“A confident organisation engages its employees and helps them understand the consequences of the economy and the impact on their business, but just giving information is not where their responsibility stops,” Wrighthouse told Personnel Today. “The responsibility means providing meaning to that information, as well as options.”

Nationwide is one of eight lending organisations that signed up to support the government bail-out plan for the UK’s struggling banks.

Wrighthouse said that it was up to HR to take the lead on informing employees about the consequences of such activities.

“The key skill in these times is being able to navigate ambiguity and create meaning,” he said. “These issues rarely present themselves on a plate in digestible, bite-sized pieces, but the prize goes to the one who is able to create a clear vision from the disparate pieces.”

Stephen Sidebottom, head of industry association CityHR, said businesses would only survive the economic downturn if they were open with employees.

“Success will come down to authenticity and organisational honesty, and HR as a function has to lead the way as being straightforward and honest,” he told Personnel Today.

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