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Surviving Tough Times – Protect your Competitive Advantage
published by , on 12/05/2009

I think most people would assume at the moment that HR is not a comfortable role to be in. Seen as the bearer and deliverer of bad news, people have an assumption that HR managers find it easy to tell people they no longer have a job. After all, they work in that profession and it’s part of the role. They’ve done it before, so it must get easier with time, mustn’t it?!

As a seasoned HR professional I can answer this honestly. No it doesn’t.

So not only is HR having to steal themselves to deliver disappointing news to some staff, they also have to keep those remaining on track to achieve success.

With the start of the new financial year, I know that HR will be looking at reduced training budgets and overall HR budget cuts. I know they will have had to often fight hard for these budgets too, and frequently reminded that they are not a profit centre but a cost centre and therefore they must expect to absorb the biggest cuts.

Having spoken with lots of HR managers recently this is certainly a recurring theme and one that, although they find difficult to deal with, they also find it hard to disagree with.

I’d like to challenge this.

Right now, organisations need to stay focused on their people. Those that are left are going to be feeling insecure. They will need reassurance if they are to help the business survive these tough times; and the team that will lead them through will be the HR team.

The expectations of HR right now are huge. They must deal sensitively but decisively with any exits, whilst developing a people strategy that will support the security and future success of the business. Oh, and don’t forget that budget that just got cut – they have to do it on a shoe string!  Of all the departments in an organisation, right now, HR is being expected to do more with less – much less!

HR has to be the champion to follow in tough times to keep employees engaged

To juggle all this, HR needs to be creative in their ideas, motivating in their reasons, and above all seen to be leading from the front. They must be the champions to follow.

But in all this it becomes an expectation that HR professionals don’t have any needs of their own. WRONG!! They do, they need support and a place to let off steam just like every other employee, even more so if you expect them to keep hearing everyone else’s woe’s.

Given the sensitivity of their position in the organisation, it’s often best if they have a trusted external support system. They need to network with other people in the same position as they are, who can empathise and more often than not, offer them new ideas, other perspectives and solutions to take back to the work place.

HR is a unique department, they handle your most precious asset through the up’s and downs of corporate life. But more than this, they develop your most precious asset into an even more valuable resource. They make your organisation a great place to be, so that it attracts and retains the best staff. This is your only competitive edge in a hostile market.Your

  • HR team is responsible for developing the only real differentiator between you and your competitors – your employees. Worth thinking about! Make sure they also get enough development time.

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