7 HR Tips for an Economic Downturn

Getting the best from existing staff and managing the opportunities and threats recessions bring in terms of employment and recruitment will prove vital to small businesses.

6th April 2009 at 8:58 am

Key survival tactics for the current economic downturn will be achieving financial savings while retaining an engaged workforce with the skills to steer your organisation through the tough times and successfully out the other side.

Adapting HR activities in response to these pressures will contribute to your organisation remaining cost effective, competitive and in a position to exploit opportunities presented by adjustments to labour markets.


As human behaviour generally becomes more risk averse in turbulent times it is likely fewer people will consider a voluntary job move.  Review the impact of this change on your planned recruitment and training budgets/activities for 2009/10.

Attendance Management

If you have a higher than average level of sickness absence reinvigorate your attendance management practices, typically this will reduce absence by up to 20%.

Employee Engagement

Maintain through these tough times to retain your competitive edge.  Provide clear leadership and direction and engage with your people in periods of change, if making redundancies devise a strategy to ensure survivors remain engaged.

Learning & Development

When evaluating L&D ask if all activities remain current, what new skills & competencies are required for next 12-24 months and consider more cost effective forms of delivery such as developing in-house trainers or e-learning.

Pay & Benefits

Are they affordable and in-line with your employment market competitors?  Many employers are reviewing occupational sick pay entitlement, contractual hours and annual increase mechanisms.


Ensure your procedure and selection criteria  enable you to retain employees with the skills to deal with the challenges over the next 12-18 months.  Consider alternatives such as sabbaticals, secondments and part-time working.


If you have vacancies pursue and exploit the current labour market adjustments.  There are big pockets of redundant workers with excellent transferable skills and competencies

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars Rate this post


Andrew is the founder of Pivotal HR, a consultancy specialising in providing people management advice to organisations throughout periods of change. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development with over 15 years experience worked across the commercial and social business sectors in both blue chip and SME organisations. http://www.pivotalhrltd.co.uk

Commenting Is Easy

Do you agree with these tips? Disagree? Have something to add that others might find helpful? Then please leave a comment by filling in the box below.

If you'd like to have your image included next to your comments here, then you can set yourself up with an avatar in just a couple of clicks.

Leave a comment

login to contribute startup tipsStaveley Head

Listen to the sales podcast for SMEs Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes


If looking to boost your businesses performance with promotional marketing, travel incentives or incentive schemes get it touch with NDL Group