With the exception of the economic turmoil over the last couple of years, benefits usually are a standard or expected part of a total compensation package. Certainly, not all small employers could afford to do so, but if an organization is looking to attract and retain top talent, insurance benefits in the form of healthcare, dental and vision are usually the norm.
Undoubtedly, the recession of 2008 and 2009 has proven to be a wake-up call for business globally. Relatively few enterprises have been left untouched, and those who have survived may have experienced layoffs, furloughs, wage freezes and other drastic cost-cutting measures merely to weather the storm and come out on the other side somewhat intact. For no one has it been business as usual.
Although we may have hit the bottom of the economic slump, HR leaders are still faced with overcoming one of their greatest challenges –- the continual rise of healthcare costs. Now more than ever, companies are faced with making hard choices on how to trim costs yet keep employees motivated.
Employee turnover is expected to rise this year. Our latest research highlights that many workers are unhappy with their present jobs. In fact, 60 percent of employees intend to leave and an additional one in four are networking and updating their résumés.
This research provides a barometer of employee engagement in the workplace, with results that might likely alarm and surprise many employers. Employees are clearly expressing their pent-up frustration with how they have been treated through the downturn. While employers may have taken the necessary steps to streamline operations to remain viable, it appears many employees may have felt neglected in the process. The result is a disengaged and disgruntled workforce.
If you study any organization that exemplifies sustained superior performance, you will find a remarkable culture, one defined and constructed around the core values institutionalized by its executive team. In other words, the core values, when practiced on a daily basis, help top companies become more successful than their competition. While it is true that you need products or services to make money, the prevailing attitudes and behaviors that characterize your people are what fuel success.
I recently read an article citing 10 of the most overused business buzzwords. Most recently making the hit list included words like “leverage,” “value-add” and “cutting edge.” Even my favorite, “disconnect,” made the list. I looked for the word “strategic,” but didn’t find it (thank goodness). For years now, though, HR has heard the “strategic” mantra—“We must be more strategic; we must get a seat at the table; we must drive our value proposition…”
Call it a slow-down or a recession, the impact is the same—times are challenging. We now must look with greater attention at what we do, the decisions we make, and their impact on service, performance and profitability. Surviving the recession is not just about cutting expenses — it is about changing how we think about every aspect of our business. Tough times require a look at our challenges as ways to regroup, realign and redefine our approach to being successful.
There is an ongoing debate about the role of human resources in strategic planning. In some cases, senior managers view human resource management solely as a compliance function. Other senior managers look to the HR function for more consultative services such as leadership development, performance management and employee engagement. Often times HR is called to help implement a key initiative of strategy after the decision has already been made.
Human resources departments are in a state of transition. Even as companies increasingly outsource administrative HR tasks, these departments are being asked to identify and develop next generation leaders and manage globalized talent pools. And yet, it is clear that not every HR executive has embraced this larger strategic role.
Today’s Business Demands
The HR function is in a state of transition caused by the increasing pressure to identify and develop next-generation leaders, the growing globalization of businesses and talent pools and the CEO’s requirement that HR be more strategic and relevant to the business as a whole. As HR seeks to meet these demands, others have questioned its effectiveness.