Should employers stick or twist?
Signs that the economy is moving gradually into recovery creates an interesting resourcing dilemma. While some employers are looking to recruit more aggressively than they have done in recent years, others are being understandably cautious about making such investments. In this uncertain climate should employers stick or twist?
Those who ‘stick’ - the cautious employers - have a real challenge on their hands. They need to gear up for growth, strengthening the business so that they are not left behind when the recovery gathers pace, but with no additional resources or people to do so.
So, how can they address this challenge in a way that will give them some protection from the uncertain climate while effectively galvanising the workforce for growth?
What skills does your business need?
Straight off the bat you should evaluate what skills your particular business will need to grow over the coming year and ensure the organisation is in a strong position within your industry. It may be that new digital marketing technologies are vital to you, or that improving customer service will be a major driver of growth this year. Drawing up a ‘skills plan’ of necessary knowledge will focus you on what the business needs. The next step is identifying where these skills may be.
Often you can find these within the building and with careful planning and consistent coaching you can fill a ‘resource gap’ by inspiring your employees to take on new challenges, and in doing so strengthening your business offering.
Get to know your people
When identifying which of your people are ready to be stretched, consider their previous expertise and experience. Skills that are latent in their current roles may prove to be fantastic assets to your business. And don’t forget to talk to them about their future plans and aspirations too. Line managers will be vital in helping you build this understanding.
As an added bonus, harnessing your existing employees’ skills and ambitions can act as great motivator as they will increasingly feel that they are an integral part of the business and, accordingly, will work harder for its continued success.
Going down this path demands an upfront attitude with your employees about the effort needed on their part to drive the business forward. Be prepared for a whole raft of questions. Some employees may have concerns.
- “Will my workload increase?”
- “Will I be rewarded for taking on additional responsibilities?”
So, make sure you use this as an opportunity to highlight that the growth of the business will provide them with real opportunity to share in future success. Detailed development plans are key here, to ensure that any additional responsibilities assigned are in line with business goals and individual aspirations.
Engaging for change
It’s not enough just to talk to your people. To fully engage the workforce with the idea of strengthening and growing the business you have to be prepared to listen, too. Your employees may want additional training sessions or mentoring to prepare them for the work ahead. These needn’t cost the earth – internal knowledge sharing meetings or creating a training ‘wiki’ are great ways to equip people with new skills without outsourcing for expensive training courses.
Sustained assessment no quick fixes
To fully ‘bridge’ a resources gap there can be no quick fixes. Once you have your plans in place don’t be tempted to rest on your laurels. The only way that deploying the skills of those within the building works is if you evaluate progress at regular intervals.
Employers need to see their employees as valuable assets who they can nurture and work with to get the best out of them. If you see your people as simply extra pairs of hands when budgets are tight you will alienate your workforce and jeopardise the future health of the business.
Keep an eye on the outside world
Finally, even if you aren’t ready to start recruiting new talent from outside the business, do stay abreast of the market. Keeping well networked will ensure that you can identify future candidates more easily when you do need them. And make sure that your commitment to your people is visible to the outside world.
Building a reputation as a good employer is one of the best ways to ensure that you can attract talented individuals to join your business in future.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ method when it comes to equipping your business for these uncertain times. Different business will need different skills, at different times. One thing, however, is true across all sectors and all sizes of organisation. Your people are your greatest asset and any plan that puts them at the heart of the business will help you to become stronger and more prepared for the challenges ahead.