There is no doubt that 2016 will be a very difficult year for Brazil with respect to the economy. The GNP in 2015, according to several Economists, should end up around minus 4%. The combination of inflation, high interest rates, currency devaluation, and political instability is impacting dramatically the country this year and, unfortunately, such scenario tend to continue in the upcoming year. As a result of this general difficult environment, most of the companies are facing challenge times to manage their business. In addition, they are afraid to make new investments, considering the economic and political perspective for the future. The question is: How to manage the HR role and what should be done to support the business in 2016?
POSITIONING HR WITHIN THE BUSINESS
First of all, HR should be very realistic to deal with a recession environment and make propositions to help the business to face the current economy and company challenges. This is the time to engage in productivity projects and take other actions focusing in doing more with less. Any suggestion to reduce cost or to improve productivity is more than welcome in the short run. The difficulty in leading projects with such scopes to balance the current situation without jeopardizing the company´s future in the long run.
HR should evaluate all the macro processes, such as the possibility to use technology, to outsource activities that could represent cost reduction or better usage for the same money. For instance, it may be a good opportunity to review service contracts with the vendors, negotiate discounts and cost reduction, without decreasing the quality of the service. In addition, it will be very critical to closely engage with the Leadership Executives, helping them to keep the motivation high within their teams.
There are many actions that can be done regarding the hiring process. First of all, make sure that any hiring process is absolutely necessary to the business. Sometimes it is better to delay than to hire someone that may be necessary to terminate later on. If possible and necessary, establish a “hiring freeze” for a short period of time. It can be good to save some money. Whenever it is possible, it might be relevant to question whether it is possible to do a downgrade a function and hire a less experienced professional by paying less, but creating an opportunity to invest in a potential talent for the future. On the other hand, the recession time may be an opportunity to raise the bar and replace certain position with more talented people. The talent available in the market should help the company to upgrade the talent pool with the possibility of paying less. This is an opportunistic decision for the short run, but not for the long run.
Talent Reviews and Succession Plan should be done more often to identify the best talents inside the organization. The company should fill the job opens as much as possible with internal talents. The performance management process should be reviewed more frequently in order to make sure the goals and objectives are on track. “Focus” is the name of the game in times of recession to avoid any surprise in the end of the year. People Development should not be stopped. It is necessary to be more creative and whenerver is possible use internal resources to continue developing and motivating talents for the future. Projects may be an excellent alternative to be used for talent development.
To keep employees engaged in difficult times is a big challenge. HR should work very close with the Leadership Executives to assure an excellent communication and feedback with the entire team. It is also recommended to do “town hall” meetings with the team to communicate the company´s results, show transparency and for people to express their feelings, concerns, questions and perspectives. Keeping the team together can make a lot of difference to face a hard time.
The company should be prepared to deal with change and ambiguity in difficult times. The organization should recognize that some people deal well with change, but others don’t. The Leadership Executives should be prepared to help people facing and dealing with change. Communication and Leadership proximity is critical and key to make people more comfortable to go through business reorganization. They need to understand the rational of company and leadership decision. If they understand and feel like they are being treated with transparency, they will support and help the organization.
There are other critical elements in the HR Management to be prepared to face difficult times in in Brazil during 2016. The important message is: Difficult times in economy are not forever. They are always a temporary situation. Companies should help people facing these times and if they are well prepared, they will be much better overcoming the challenges. At the end of the day, the business will be thankful for their support and commitment to the organization and company results.