Retain, hire, empower – how to wheather the economic storm

Dennis Wolff presented some timely advice today on the Bill Good Show on CKNW 980. Here’s the expanded version for those of you who missed the interview. You can also find this current post in this week’s edition of the BIV (page 20), or click here to read it online.

Throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, a significant number of companies are experiencing a hiring slow-down, if not a complete hiring freeze. This is the time to re-assess how to handle your most valuable asset – your human capital. It is your ability to retain and attract the best talent which might easily become the single most decisive factor in determining how well you will weather this economic crisis. Here are a few ideas on how to get a head start:

Retain your top talent: The good news is, top talent becomes hesitant to move in tough economic times. But don’t take your employee’s loyalty for granted. Smart employees will ensure they have an exit strategy, and will likely take precautions to find something more stable and rewarding. But not only do you want to retain your top people, you also want to reassure your staff that your company is stable, and set up to succeed in this market.

Think carefully when you have to dismiss: Tough times can call for unpopular measures and dismissing part of your workforce might become inevitable for the survival of your business. Make sure to focus on assessing performance records as opposed to strictly looking at job costing. The average cost to replace an employee can range anywhere between 30% and 150% of the employee’s annual salary. What might look like an instant quick fix can become very costly on a long-term basis.

Go and shop for new talent: Use your competition’s mistakes to your advantage: A lot of them might not be able to retain their most talented people. This is a great time to shop for new talent. Hiring during economic turmoil will also increase your employees’ confidence while setting you up to be way ahead of your competition once the economic circumstances become more favourable again.

Empower your staff: Economic challenges come with their own set of rules, and smart businesses recognize that this is a time to gain market share. In order to get ahead of your competition, you need to make sure that you have your whole team pulling in the same direction. Implementing a “war room” culture to actively tackle your competition and empowering your staff to come up with innovative ideas will drive your business and uncover new opportunities.

~ Dennis Wolff

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