The global markets are in a bit of a jittery mode at the moment, with plenty of doom and gloom. The falls in US, European and Australian markets are starting to replicate those seen in the GFC, and we are again acutely aware of the volatility of the share market.
However, it is also worth remembering that businesses have to handle a number of issues to ensure a quick and relatively painless recovery. Apart from the inevitable hit to finances and/or investments, an acknowledgement of staffing problems at these times is needed. The last GFC saw a major increase in employee disengagement, and disregard of effective recruitment processes. So much so, that there was a study by Manpower at the height of the GFC which showed that the majority of staff surveyed were unhappy, felt abandoned by their employer and felt their workplace lacked effective methods to encourage retention. However employees stayed because of the fear of being unable to locate a new role and the relative stability of their current role. Then, at the end of the GFC, a similar survey found that over 50% of staff were looking to leave their current employer, with over a third actively doing something about it simply because of the way they were treated during the GFC.
Now we face another heavy financial downturn. Whether it is of the same ferocity as the GFC is yet to be realised, but it provides a salient opportunity not to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Businesses need to look at the way their employees are treated during the worst of times and offer a workplace that still encourages engagement. Whilst there may be a tendency to hold promotions or pay rises, it does not mean that we should forsake other engagement strategies. Keep employees informed on executive decisions and give them opportunities to provide input or feedback on these decisions. Offer them a sense that what they are doing is vital for the survival of the business, espousing the collaborative approach of all employees. Whatever it is, businesses need to give employees a sense that they are with them as they go through the financial troubles ahead. Nothing spells safety for an employee than the feeling that they are in control of their own efforts and impact to the business.
Leaders need to maintain a close eye on the human elements of the business, as these will be the drivers of the recovery. Lose top talent, and recovery will be slow and cumbersome. Take a look at the companies that did better out of the GFC, and the one constant is the way they kept their top talent. Learn from this, and this current financial market hiccup will not prove to be a major roadblock to growth.