Plan Your Workforce for the Economic Rebound

Amid high unemployment, businesses must prepare for growthand recruitmentby caring about employees and noting which deserve promotion

The key to growth is putting in place a system to attract and retain top talent, formulating a hiring strategy that feeds into broader areas of recruitment, performance development, and advancement/succession planning. As the economy improves, competitors will begin hiring again. Your star prospects may be long gone before your evaluation process has matured.

Now is the best time for companies to evaluate what they need and want in prospective employees. Building a solid talent-management strategy is an investment that will pay off now—and after the storm has cleared.

Before implementing a strategy, your company needs to identify key competencies for each job within the organization so that you have a clear picture of in-house skills—and which are lacking within your organization. This "performance mapping" process will reveal where you can adjust personnel, as well as provide a road map to success for employees who hope to advance.

consider employees' work/life balance

To ride out the current economic storm, you need to focus on retaining key talent and maintaining morale and engagement among your employees. How your company handles these tough times could have a lasting impact on your talent pool, building respect, loyalty, and longevity within the ranks for years to come.

Your current employees are your best recruiting tool. An important aspect of attracting employees is the work environment that you cultivate and the satisfaction of your current staff. Understanding not only corporate but personal economic pressures will assist you in better assessing and improving employee morale. Understanding your employees from a work/life-balance perspective becomes an important part of fostering productivity in your workforce, as well as attracting and retaining top talent.

Maintaining morale and engagement can be a trickier task. In truth, even though your employees are still on the job, they deal with day-to-day issues that extend far beyond their work spaces. They've witnessed friends, family members, and spouses losing jobs. Some are wondering how they'll make mortgage payments; others worry about the stability of loved ones. In addition to personal stress, many employees are doing more with less and taking on heavier workloads. Having resources available to help them deal with stresses—both personal and professional—is a great way for a human resources team to be supportive during these tough times.

Note which workers deserve to advance

Faced with these issues, Convergys has ramped up mentoring and coaching programs to keep employees engaged and focused on their careers. In fact, all of the HR vice-presidents within the company have become "certified leadership coaches." The company has also created an internal talent recruiter, who acts as a career counselor for employees. These investments have turned out to be a lifeline for Convergys because employees need someone to talk with about their careers.

Advancement is another important aspect of employee satisfaction. Recent Convergys research shows that 40% of employee respondents believe they would have to change companies in order to advance. If some employees are especially good at their jobs and have demonstrated that they can handle more responsibility, advance them. As stated above, not only is this a hard time for companies, it is a difficult time for individuals as well. It is clear who has stepped up and who has not. Let them know that you have noticed their tenacity.

The best people for the job—the ideal candidates—will only come when they believe that yours is the best company for which to work. As the economy improves, additional positions will be available and competition for talent will intensify. Create an environment you can leverage to attract the ideal candidates. Improving your company from within is the best way to attract those on the outside.

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