Welcome to the New Normal!

Nearly all of us faced challenges during the downturn-some more dramatic than others. The question is: how will business owners apply the lessons we’ve learned to make the most of their opportunities, internal and external? – Randy Farnum, Planning for Growth in the New Normal

Back in late 2009 I wrote some content for an email campaign that went out to HR leaders, business leaders and talent acquisition managers. The theme was the importance of workforce planning relative to a company’s growth and profitability, now that we were seeing a pick up in the economy as we moved into 2010. It was a call to action for companies to look hard at their respective talent acquisition and retention processes and make needed changes in order to be better positioned for the “New Normal” of hiring and retaining great talent.

The possibilities and questions that I posed as 2010 approached are just as appropriate to consider as we move into the 2nd quarter of 2011.

  • The economy improves quicker than expected. Can you react quickly enough to meet the demand for talent? There are some sectors of the economy, maybe yours that bounced back quicker than others from the downturn over the last few years. Being prepared for an increase in demand for your company’s products or services is critical to your company’s long term success. If it hasn’t happened already for your sector or your company, don’t wait for the turn around to begin looking for the talent you will need to manage and handle the new business. By that time it will be too late.
  • Some of your existing workforce will begin to look for upward movement within your company, or look elsewhere as the economy improves. This will create an opening that you may not have anticipated. Can you afford to lose the talent that you have? Keeping the best talent in the most critical positions was a decision you had to make in order for your company to survive the last few years. Now that business is improving or has already these individuals who kept your company going are looking for some reward. They will want to be considered for promotions, more responsibility, more say in the direction of the company. If you can’t provide that then they will look outside and another company, perhaps a competitor will benefit. Loyalty is a two way street. Reward those that stayed with you and look for other great talent to fill their positions.
  • If you scaled back your internal recruiting department because of the economy, can it still meet the increased demand or can you quickly rebuild it to meet the demand? If your business increases and this increase requires additional workers to meet that increase can your bare-bones recruiting staff deliver? If it can’t then how quickly can you rebuild it or do you even want to rebuild it? There are some options that you should consider. If you scaled back your recruiting team are only the best recruiters still with you? If they are the best perhaps they could be your internal bridge between your company, your hiring managers, business unit leaders and the keeper of your company’s culture to outside managed recruiting services firms who could offer best of class, flexible support to your team. Don’t just go back to the way it was before the downturn. This is a time to look for operational effectiveness and efficiencies within your recruiting domain.

The tough times may be over for many of you. The memory of those tough times may never go away and perhaps should always be part of any decisions that are made regarding talent acquisition and retention in your company.

There is no going back to the way things were before the downturn.  Welcome to the New Normal.


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