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How Human Resource Professionals Can Help Companies Recover From A Downturn

Samantha Mohr

Photo by Hilary Ehlen

The beginning of the new year gives organizations an opportunity to celebrate their wins but to also think about their challenges and how they will overcome them. As we all know, organizations can have highs and lows. How an organization comes out of those lows can determine their future. 


Human Resource professionals play a significant role in helping an organization succeed or come out of an unexpected downturn. Every company needs people to help drive them forward and take care of their customers. Leaders often forget that without their rock star employees, their strategies wouldn’t have the power to move forward. It is very important that leaders realize this from the beginning and understand the time and cost it takes to recruit new employees and what it takes to retain top talent. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it is more efficient to retain a quality employee than to recruit, train, and orient a replacement employee of the same quality. 

So how do you retain your top talent in a state that has an unemployment rate of 2.5%? One idea is to create a stay interview asking your tenure employees what keeps them engaged at your organization. This format can give you a temperature check on how the team is doing in specific roles. Do you have an employee engagement survey? When conducting a survey, make sure your leadership team has full buy-in to come up with an action plan once you have received the results. Seeing action is a critical part of rolling out an employee survey as you are building trust with your employees. You can’t communicate enough with employees! They want to know and understand where the company is going and what role they play in that future. 

 In 2019 SHRM did a survey to find out the top five contributing factors to job satisfaction. The results showed:

  1. Respect/Treatment of all employees at all levels
  2. Compensation/Pay
  3. Trust between employees and senior management
  4. Job security
  5. Opportunities to use their skills and abilities at work

Understanding how your employees are feeling will give your organization an opportunity to create an action plan moving forward. When debriefing from your first survey, the results to the organization are often hard to see. It is important for the company to continue doing the survey and review the results year-to-year. Through the results, you are able to identify your weak points, but you are also able to identify those small wins. The positive results can be used as recruiting tools and help to identify your employment brand. 

What else can you do to help reduce turnover and retain top talent? HR professionals can partner to create the following:

Recruitment Strategy: Know what the business needs are and recruit for the right role. Give candidates a transparent preview of the role through the job posting and interview process. Provide a day in the life overview of an employee in that position. 

Socialization: Have an effective onboarding process and connect new hires to others in the organization. Help them understand how their role can make a difference in the success of the company. Employees who are embedded in the organization often stay longer than those who don’t make any ties. 

Opportunities for Development: Understand what employee training needs are and what they need to build their career with you. 

Total Rewards: Help employees understand their benefits and total compensation package.  A total rewards philosophy demonstrates a commitment to more than just their salary.  Highlight what benefits your organization offers versus competitors. 

Leadership: Make sure your leadership team is trained in having developmental and performance conversations. Leaders can make or break a team if these conversations are not done correctly. 

Establishing appropriate internal and external benchmarks is very important in determining if and how successful you are in setting up a retention strategy. Examples of external resources are the Department of Labor and SHRM’s human capital benchmarking. Internal benchmarking would look at turnover over time and across departments. Ensuring all senior-level leadership believes in the plan is also critical to the program’s success. 

Continuing to analyze turnover rates and conduct employee focus groups will help determine if you are making progress or need to focus in on a specific area. 

Samanth Mohr
Samantha Mohr has been in Human Resources for over 10 years and is currently at Blue Cross Bule Shield of North Dakota as a Talent Partner. She is currently President-Elect for the Fargo Moorhead Human Resource Association and has served on the board for four years. Samantha is passionate about giving back to the community and profession.

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