Has the GFC affected the way you attract talent?

AHRI has recently released “EXECpulse” ;a research report which aims to determine the direct impact within businesses of the global financial crisis. Earlier this year, AHRI conducted an online survey of a limited sample number of executive-level respondents on the ramifications within Australian business. A total of 122 executives responded to the survey.


A key key insights include:

• Approximately six out of 10 respondents (61.48%) report their organisations have downsized or are planning to do so.
• Of the downsizing organisations, more than three quarters (75.67%) report having reduced headcount up to 10%, and 8.11% of respondents more than 20%.
• Two thirds of respondents from downsizing organisations report the decision was made following careful analysis.
• Nearly nine out of 10 respondents (88%) from downsizing organisations believe downsizing was necessary.
• Respondents are evenly divided on whether the GFC will fundamentally change how business is conducted in the future, with a similar response to the question as to whether greater market regulation will prevent another GFC.
• Nearly two thirds of respondents (64.48%) believe that organisations will more actively pursue CSR and ethics policies in the wake of the GFC.

However, one of the most interesting things that I read in this report were the comments from the Execs on whether they thought the GFC would change the HR function. I’ve spoken recently on the ‘war for talent’ that has consumed many HR strategy documents for the last few years. Here is what one Exec had to say regarding the impact of the GFC on talent management:

“Less focus on recruiting scarce talent, more on clear identification of top talent and retention of them. Employee focus to shift from demanding entitlements to being grateful for non-financial benefits which represent the companies care and loyalty to employees”

They make a fantastic point. In the past, much emphasis has been placed on FINDING that talent in the ‘war’, because talent was scarce and individuals were able to freely pick and choose what companies they would like to work for. This normally meant that companies were willing and able to throw the talent great remuneration packages to join the organisation.

With the impact of the GFC, this means that companies have had to cut back and downsize, which means unemployment rates have raised tremendously; meaning there are more people in the labour market. Organisations are less able to offer huge salaries to staff and individuals are in less of a position to demand large salaries. However, it is important to remember that the top talent will always have somewhere to go to and if you can’t offer them a massive salary- what can you offer?

From a HR perspective, this means we really need to promote and sell all the benefits of working at our respective organisation- it’s no longer just about money. Examples of benefits that may be a key factor for prospective employees might include:

• Flexible working hours
• Generous paid maternity leave provisions
• Flex time
• On-site gym or discounts
• Massages or company wellness programs
• Free flu vaccinations
• Study assistance
• Child care facilities
• Subsidised transport
• Ability to work from home
• Increased superannuation payments
• Free onsite parking
• Fresh fruit delivery to work
• Volunteer Day (day of leave for purpose of assisting a charity)
• Staff referral programs
• Corporate rates for private health cover

I’d be really interested to hear from other HR professionals- what benefits are you promoting as a result of the GFC to attract and retain your talent?

One last comment from an Exec in the report:
“HR functions that add value will survive. So HR has to stand up and be counted or perish”


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