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Category Archives: employer responses to GFC

How your happiness can save the world

Thomas Friedman

June 9, 2011

Port KemblaA new ‘happiness model’ of living will reduce environmental degradation and overconsumption to help save the planet, claims a new book.

As a consumer-driven society breaks down, happiness will prevail, writes Thomas Friedman.

You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century – when food and energy prices soared, world population surged, tornadoes ploughed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all – and ask ourselves: what were we thinking?

How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural-resource/population redlines all at once?

”The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.

”When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”

Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists which calculates how many ”planet Earths” we need to sustain our growth rates. GFN says we are growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future.

While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker delivering water in the capital, Sanaa. Sanaa could be the first big city in the world to run out of water within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 per cent of sustainable capacity. ”If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. ”If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer.

”If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

It is also current affairs. ”In China’s thousands of years of civilisation, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” China’s Environment Minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently.

”The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.”

What China’s minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that ”the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit.”

We will not change systems, without a crisis, but we’re getting there. We’re caught in two loops: One is that population growth and global warming together are pushing up food prices – rising prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, higher food prices, and more instability.

At the same time, improved productivity means fewer people are needed to produce more stuff. If we want to have more jobs, we need more factories. More factories making more stuff make more global warming, and that is where the two loops meet.

As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, Gilding says, ”our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilising as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy in just a few short decades.” We will realise, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven model, based on people working less and owning less.

”How many people,” Gilding asks, ”lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

Sounds utopian? Gilding says he is a realist. ”We are heading for a crisis-driven choice. We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”

The New York Times

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/how-your-happiness-can-save-the-world-20110608-1ft6i.html#ixzz1OjtaumBT

AAP
May 27, 2009 07:11am

AUSTRALIA stands out as an island of calm amid the global economic storm, an international business confidence survey shows.

One in five international businesspeople cited Australia as the country best surviving the recession in a survey of 7500 people in more than 24 nations.

Australia placed first in the survey, ahead of China, with India and Singapore in equal third place. New Zealand also fared well, ranked ninth.

The survey, conducted in April, was aimed at gauging business sentiment and what impact the economic downturn has had on businesses globally.

Australian businesspeople appeared relatively unaffected, according to the poll conducted for Servcorp, a provider of virtual and serviced offices that operates in 61 nations.

“In my experience working with international businesses around the world, especially during the last six months, I’ve noticed how relatively unaffected (are) Australian businesses and… business persons’ attitude by the economic downturn,” Servcorp executive director Taine Moufarrige said.

CEO Lucky Times Industries “Over 71 per cent of Australian businesspeople believe we are the lucky country, and it’s interesting to see that the rest of the world agrees.”

Pessimistic media reports were the number one concern among Australian businesses, the survey found.

More than 25 per cent of Australian businesspeople also said they were worried about the way the government responded to the global financial crisis.

“I think the doom and gloom reports that Australians hear every day are harmful to Australian businesses and hold them back from seeing the opportunities that are present in the current economic climate,” Mr Moufarrige said.

“This is a time when Australian business confidence needs to be supported and encouraged in the media and by the Australia government.”

Top 10 recession-beaters

1st – Australia

2nd – China

3rd – India and Singapore (equal)

5th – Hong Kong

6th – Canada

7th – Japan and Qatar (equal)

9th – New Zealand

10th – Malaysia, Sweden and Vietnam (equal)

Source: Servcorp International Business Confidence Survey.

http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,27753,25545056-462,00.html?referrer=email&source=eDM_newspulse

Cosima Marriner and Peter Martin
May 22, 2009

THE chairman of Australia’s largest company, BHP Billiton, has contradicted assurances by the Rudd Government, Treasury and Reserve Bank that an economic recovery is imminent, warning instead it will be “protracted and complex”.

Speaking at his old high school in Brisbane yesterday, Don Argus said he was “pessimistic” about prospects for recovery in the short term.

His comments follow spirited defences by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry and Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens of growth forecasts in last week’s federal budget. The economy is projected to grow above 4.5 per cent from the middle of 2011, a forecast economists have questioned and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has labelled “completely unbelievable”.

“(Dr Henry and Mr Stevens) have got the levers of the economy,” Mr Argus said. “I’ve got a balance sheet, I’ve got revenue statements, I deal with customers, I’m a contributor to the Australian economy … I’m just calling it from where I see it.”

Mr Stevens tipped on Tuesday that “a recovery will get under way towards the end of the year”. But Mr Argus warned it would be a “pretty tough” 2009 and 2010. “We can hope for recovery. We should also have contingency plans for scenarios where world capital markets continue to provide surprises on the downside.”

He said that while some people would call his comments pessimism, “I prefer to call it caution that 50 years in corporate life engenders … The current outlook is very uncertain.

“It’s very much reliant on the Government, corporate and regulatory response to the global financial crisis. It will be a difficult transition period. Governments and corporates have to pay off debt and rebuild their balance sheets.”

He predicted that Australians who had so far been shielded from the impact of the crisis would start to be affected, as the Government was forced to pay back debt incurred with its stimulus packages. “They can’t do that without budget cuts and increasing taxation.”

Mr Argus based his analysis on an International Monetary Fund report, his own analysis of the 1987 crash, and business conditions BHP is experiencing. “The IMF report makes it easy to conclude that the road to economic recovery will be slow, hence my cautious response to the recent political rhetoric.”

He said the recovery would be under way when financial institutions had access to good liquidity and had dealt with distressed assets, and weak institutions had been recapitalised.

His comments came as it was revealed Australians paid off $19.7 billion of credit card debt in March — the second-biggest amount on record — as $900 and $950 cheques directed at single-income families, carers and parents of children at school went out. The record for card repayments was in December, when stimulus cheques of between $1000 and $2000 went out.

There was also a spending surge in March, with credit cards getting their second-biggest work-out on record, again exceeded only in December. “We’re both spending and saving at the same time,” CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said.

The next stimulus payments began hitting bank accounts in April, suggesting spending and saving will continue to climb.

Some of the extra spending appears to have gone on cars, passenger vehicle sales up a seasonally adjusted 1.8 per cent in April after months of decline.

The rebound is consistent with a Westpac-Melbourne Institute survey this week showing a rise in consumer sentiment.

Other figures showed that average full-time earnings climbed 5.6 per cent to more than $61,000 in the year to February. But the rate of increase is slowing as fewer hours and less overtime are worked.

“Workers in the public sector are enjoying better conditions than private sector workers,” said Commonwealth Bank economist James McIntyre.

“Public sector households are getting the benefits of significant interest rate cuts, stimulus payments, petrol price falls and tax cuts without the job security concerns.”

Meanwhile, new figures yesterday showed investment in minerals and energy projects hit a record high in April, defying budget forecasts.

http://business.theage.com.au/business/bhp-at-odds-on-recovery-20090521-bh6e.html

11/05/2009 2:24:00 PM

Less than 24 hours after the federal government’s announced plans to introduce paid parental leave, business groups are raising concerns about the cost.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called on Labor to compensate companies for administering the scheme which offers primary carers earning less than $150,000 a year 18 weeks of post-natal leave paid at the minimum wage.

ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said the scheme, expected to cost taxpayers $260 million annually from 2011, could slug employers with higher workers compensation premiums and additional payroll tax.

He said employers should not be expected to pay staff the benefit and then seek reimbursement from the government at a later date.

“This carries a cost of accessing money, a red tape cost, and a cost of interest on borrowings until reimbursement is made,” Mr Anderson said in a statement on Monday.

But a spokeswoman for Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the government would provide employers with the money to fund the payments up-front.

Sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said it was essential that the proposal be carefully explained to avoid such confusion.

“This paid parental leave scheme could be a disincentive to the employment of women if business got the idea that business had to fund this,” she told ABC Radio.

“I think it’s important that underlying the delay to implementation that there is a lot of education material put out there and that people understand how the scheme works.”

Ms Macklin has defended the 2011 start date, saying legislation would pass through parliament before the next federal election, due in late 2010.

“There is a lot of working through to do before we put this scheme in place,” she said.

“We do understand just how critical it is to get this in place, but we also want to do it right.”

Ms Macklin said it was unlikely that businesses already offering paid parental leave would wind their schemes back in anticipation of Labor’s new law.

“Businesses which have already implemented paid maternity leave or paternity leave schemes have done so so they can hold onto their good employees,” she said.

“I have no doubt that many of them will use this as an opportunity to add to their paid parental leave arrangements.”

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has given in-principle support to the scheme.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/business/concern-over-cost-of-parental-leave/1509754.aspx

© AAP

May 11, 2009 – 6:50AM

A French textile firm has caused outrage by telling nine of its workers that they have the choice between the sack and redeploying to an Indian factory and taking a gigantic pay-cut.

Carreman told its workers at a plant in the southwestern town of Castres that it would offer them pay of 69 euros ($122.37) a month if they moved to Bangalore, union officials said at the weekend.

The minimum legal monthly salary in France is 1321 euros ($2342.82).

Francois Morel, the boss of the factory, told a local paper that before being allowed to lay off the workers he was obliged to offer them work elsewhere in the group under legal requirements which he described as “stupid”.

CGT union official Edmond Andreu told AFP that the offer had provoked “anger mixed with stupefaction” among workers at the factory, who say it is obvious no-one will take up the proposition.

Workers at the Bangalore factory are paid the equivalent of 69 euros a month for working a six-day week, and get an annual bonus of a month’s pay as well as medical insurance.

The nine Castres workers were also offered free plane tickets and a 1000-euro bonus for moving.

Barry Fitzgerald
May 6, 2009

FORMER high-flyer OZ Minerals is to undergo wholesale board and management change to better reflect its greatly reduced size following the forced asset sales required to rid itself of its debt refinancing woes.

Five of the eight-member board, including chairman Barry Cusack and managing director Andrew Michelmore, plan to ride off elsewhere, but won’t be able to forget their time at OZ in a hurry.

Shareholders’ litigant IMF Australia plans to make sure of that, saying yesterday a $1 billion class action claim being handled by legal firm Maurice Blackburn on behalf of “hundreds” of OZ shareholders remains in the pipeline.

The potential class action was first flagged in December, but nothing has been heard since, and as of yesterday OZ had not received any statement of claim or other documents from IMF or Maurice Blackburn.

IMF would not reveal the proposed timing of the class action but it is believed to want to see OZ complete its $US1.2 billion ($A1.6 billion) in asset sales to China’s Minmetals. The deal is subject to a shareholder vote on June 11. Without the deal, OZ faced the prospect of administration.

OZ was created by the friendly merger of Oxiana and Zinifex last year, implemented by an Oxiana scrip offer for Zinifex.

IMF’s proposed class action involves alleged misleading and deceptive conduct and alleged breaches by OZ of its continuous disclosure obligations between February 28 and December 3 last year. OZ has continued to strongly refute the allegations and plans to vigorously defend itself against any legal action proposed by IMF.

Announcing its board changes yesterday, OZ said director Tony Larkin had submitted his resignation on Monday. Another director, Ronnie Beevor, will not seek re-election at the June 11 meeting.

Assuming the Minmetals deal proceeds, Mr Michelmore will resign and take up a senior executive role with the Chinese group. A search for a replacement managing director is now under way.

Mr Cusack and another director, Peter Mansell, plan to resign from the board once the new managing director is appointed. The slimmed-down OZ would then seek to appoint two replacements, who will face shareholders at OZ’s 2010 annual meeting for election.

The result is that OZ will end up with a board of six, down from the current eight. OZ shares closed 2.5¢ higher at 82¢.

The reporter owns OZ shares and is not party to any class action.

http://business.theage.com.au/business/ceo-and-others-to-go-as-oz-minerals-slims-down-20090505-atyh.html

06 May 2009 6:28am

More than half of employers still believe there is a talent shortage and that it is having a negative impact on their organisation, according to the Randstad 2009 Employment Trends Report.

The proportion of employers affected by the shortage is lower than last year (59% versus 67%), the report says, but nearly half (46%) complain it is increasing workload stress among staff (46%).

Some 22 per cent say company performance is suffering and 14 per cent are reporting higher turnover.

These are problems that recruiters can focus on when selling the benefits of their service to potential clients, the report indicates.

Not surprisingly, respondents to the survey (2,682 across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) say their biggest human capital challenges for the next 12 months will be managing internal change (20%), people and productivity (19%) and human capital costs (15% – up from 4% last year), rather than attraction and retention.

Report can be downloaded form here: http://www.randstad.com.au/documents/rev_ETR_Online.pdf

http://www.recruiterdaily.com.au/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&nav=1&selkey=39430&utm_source=daily+email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+Email+Article+Link

01 May 2009 6:03am

Despite starting out in the “poor cousin” sector of recruitment, Metier director Sally Paris now gives advice to top-level executives and says more recruiters should take an interest in broader business issues to better assist their clients.

Like many consultants, Paris “fell into” recruitment when, more than 10 years ago, she found herself seeking the services of an agency and ended up convincing the manager she could do a better job than its consultants.

Since then she has worked her way up to a general manager role at Julia Ross before deciding to start her own business with partner Neale Bettman in 2006. At office support specialist Metier, she manages a team of eight and continues to run her own desk looking after Metier’s top clients.

Paris says that as a small company without a huge marketing budget, Metier had to rely on the reputation she has built in the industry and carve out a niche via referrals from her clients – largely ASX100 executives, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals.

“A lot of my clients sit across different boards, charities, etc, and they often talk about their EAs and if they like them and don’t like them, and my name comes into the equation because I have changed their lives by finding them great people.”

The personality of a candidate can be much more important in an EA role than many others, she notes, because they have to work closely and in a more personal way with their boss. The difficulty of making this match is often compounded by the fact that HR usually shields top-level executives from recruiters, but she demands some face-to-face time before embarking on any assignment.

“I don’t work with anyone unless I’ve met them face-to-face. Even if they are someone who is travelling globally and only has 10 minutes to meet, that’s going to ensure the match of the assistant.”

One-on-one meetings also identify issues that HR departments often aren’t aware of, she says. “In one instance last year I met with a well known, highly regarded property identity. He couldn’t understand why he’d gone through so many EAs in the last 18 months, but [working it out] was just a matter of sitting down with him. He worked in the overseas markets and had a lot of success with EAs who he had long-term relationships with, but it came down to the fact that he wasn’t paying enough salary for what he expected, and the qualifications he needed from an EA. [He didn’t know this because] his HR people were guarding him from meeting with agencies.”

Take an interest in business
When dealing with clients at this level, Paris says, it’s vital to have some business nous yourself and a strong understanding of what your clients do.

Office support is generally seen as “the poor cousin” in recruitment because of its high proportion of junior consultants, she notes, but to succeed in this sector consultants must take a genuine interest in business issues and stay up-to-date by keeping an eye on the stock market, and reading business news. The level of knowledge and business savvy required for successful EA recruiters takes some time to acquire, she says, and “that level of interest or consultant approach just doesn’t happen as much these days”.

Often, she says, “[consultants] come straight out of business college and when entrusted to recruit for an MD’s EA they just can’t understand what these guys do on a day-to-day basis.”

The most successful office support recruiters, she says, meet with executives to understand “their business, their schedule and what they do, so we can explain the position up front to the EA – a HR person who doesn’t work one-to-one with the executive can’t describe that”.

Among the challenges of EA recruitment are that executives can be difficult for assistants to get along with, and because EAs don’t necessarily require a specific set of qualifications, the success of a placement hinges on the personality fit, she says.

Paris consults to clients by recommending ways that they can help assess whether an EA is the right match. “I suggest tips, such as getting the EA at the end of the interview to compose a business letter, because that’s the only way that they’re going to see how they react on the spot.”

She also recommends that executives schedule a five- or 10-minute meeting throughout the day when they update the EA “on where they’re at and what really is important – those little things really make a difference.”

Responding to the GFC
Paris is aware she started her company in a more buoyant economy, but says that while some business plans have changed, “irrespective, recruitment methodologies stay the same.

“A focus on core business is key. We don’t try and be all things to all people but we’re seeing a lot of non-traditional office support players trying to encroach on our market segment and that’s obviously difficult for us as a business. At the end of the day those other businesses’ brands are going to be diluted. Candidates they don’t place are going to be disillusioned. Although this is a large industry, it’s small at same time and people talk – service is key.”

Staying true to a brand, and resisting the temptation to branch into other areas can be hard in this market, she says.

She points out that a long-term client who, due to the downturn, hadn’t been able to give the company much work lately asked if it would recruit outside of its speciality – a clinical manager position – but Paris turned the role down. “We said no to that because we didn’t have expertise in the office to understand exactly what that client wanted, nor a pool of candidates ready to go. You may be able to list an ad, [but] … out of 10 people you’ve spoken to and interviewed, only one of them’s going to get the job and you’re not going to be able to place [the rest], and I think that can get frustrating for the candidates.”

Focusing efforts on the likelier wins is a strategy that flows through to other areas of the business. Despite being a small company, Metier has won several preferred supplier contracts with ASX 100 companies, but Paris says she only tenders when she knows the company has already proven itself to the client.

“I don’t think any agencies ever really win PSAs or normal business agreements unless they’ve demonstrated a track record with that client.”

Time-poor consultants can’t neglect candidates
Among the core tenets of the business are the need to “treat others as you would yourselves – little things that may seem a bit idealistic or old fashioned”, Paris says.

“We’re seeing a lot of candidates being treated poorly in the market because agencies are time-robbed of their core duties with the influx of candidates… so it’s about doing things that people remember. We have to take time out; more than ever we have to become the counsellors in our industry because there are people turning up on our door who’ve been made redundant, they might be in tears. We can’t turn those people away even if we’re in a staff meeting or were really busy; we have to pull out all stops.

“If you have a difficult person on the phone, they might not be someone that we can necessarily help but take a deep breath and think, ‘what would I be doing if I were in their shoes, how would I like to be treated?'”

The recruiters who survive and thrive through the downturn, she says, will be the ones who love recruitment and love people. “This market can get anyone down – can get really good recruiters down – but you can’t mope around, you’re only one person; you’re not going to change what’s happening in the global economy just on your own, so you have to adjust to the circumstances and fire up. And you can be successful in good times and bad times, I firmly believe that.”

If you’re not seeing success at the moment, “take stock – listen to your peers, watch what goes around your office and take your time with things”, she advises. “The little things that make a difference are getting back to people, being honest with clients, and being honest with candidates. Nothing that I say is rocket science, it’s all the same principles that are tried and tested in the industry.”

http://www.recruiterdaily.com.au/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&nav=1&selkey=39395&utm_source=daily+email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+Email+Article+Link

April 30, 2009 – 11:09AM

Canadian agribusiness Viterra Inc is looking to raise $CAD450 million ($A515.018 million) in equity through a private placement to help pay for ABB Grain Ltd, should Viterra decide to make a formal takeover offer for the Australian grains marketer.

“Proceeds of the offering will provide a portion of the funding that may be required should Viterra determine that it will proceed with the acquisition of shares of ABB Grain Ltd, via a scheme of arrangement,” Viterra said in a statement.

Viterra and ABB are presently engaged in continuing negotiations and due diligence activities.

“We feel it is important to put ourselves in a position to act quickly should due diligence and negotiations result in a strategic transaction,” Viterra chief executive Mayo Schmidt said.

ABB Grain said on Tuesday this week that it had received a conditional and non-binding proposal from Viterra to acquire all of the shares in ABB via a scheme of arrangement.

ABB said the proposal was within the range of $9.00 to $9.50 per ABB share and comprised a mix of cash, Viterra shares and franked dividends.

The Viterra proposal values ABB at between $1.55 billion and $1.64 billion.

Viterra said it will raise the $CAD450 million in equity via a bought deal subscription receipt offering at $CAD8.00 per subscription receipt.

Each subscription receipt represents the right of the holder to receive, at no extra cost, one Viterra share upon the acquisition closing of ABB Grain.

If the acquisition does not occur, holders of the subscription receipts will receive a refund of the purchase price.

ABB Grain shares were four cents lower at $8.71 at 1051 AEST on Thursday.

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-business/viterra-eye-abb-grain-acquisition-20090430-ao0s.html

30 April 2009 8:19am

Australian HR departments are struggling to meet the challenges created by recession-driven cost-cutting with fewer resources and less control over decision-making, a new study confirms.

Two in five HR directors feel they have less autonomy than a year ago – almost 10 times the number reporting an increase in control, the survey by Kelly Services has found.

“More control, more information requests, and more centralised decision-making” summarises the responses of many HR directors to the survey, which asked 56 members of the International HR Directors Forum about cost-containment measures and the GFC’s impact on the HR function itself.

One HR director notes that these demands make HR “much more reactive: you can’t be proactive when you are constrained by centralised control”.

The greater scrutiny has also led to a “speeding up of operating rhythms” – from quarterly to monthly reporting, and monthly to weekly – which inevitably leads to a greater workload.

Parent companies’ expectations of their Australian operations are “overly influenced” by what is happening in their home market, the report says, with the parent – in most cases – having a more severe view than local management about the cost-reduction measures needed.

Cost-cutting measures
Virtually all respondents to the survey have already implemented cost-cutting measures, with the most common being reduced use of contractors (74%), hiring freezes (70%) and headcount reductions (66%).

Australian subsidiaries have been required to take steps even where the GFC hasn’t yet had a noticeable impact on local operations. This is despite the report noting that, “given the state of the key US and European markets, Australian revenues (typically around 2-5% of global revenues) are hardly likely to be a decisive consideration in global cost reduction decisions”.

Reducing accrued annual leave entitlements is another strategy being employed by many of the respondents, with one director pointing out that pressure to reduce this liability on the balance sheet is “inevitable” and another saying, “it’s not just a financial issue, it’s a wellbeing issue. It’s not healthy for people not to be taking adequate leave breaks, so we are pushing this angle in our discussions with affected employees.”

Almost half (43%) of the respondents have reduced their training expenditures, but some companies have made a firm decision to keep investing in this area.

One director acknowledges the need to continue to upskill and invest in employees in order to meet business objectives, adding that in circumstances where bonuses and pay rises are out of the question, “we can at least educate and develop our people”.

Only “an exceptional company indeed” would have considered salary reductions 18 months ago, the report says, but now almost one in five employers (17%) is considering this move in the next six-to-twelve months.

This is arguably one of the most unpopular cost reduction measures and, given the need for employees to agree, the most difficult to achieve, the report says.

Added pressures
Among the added pressures HR directors report being subject to are:
more scrutiny of new hires – there are “more hoops” to go through to get new staff on board. In other cases, HR’s involvement in recruitment has been eliminated in favour of line managers contacting agencies directly, leading to a higher risk of hiring employees with poor cultural fit;

falling morale and engagement – nearly 60 per cent of HR respondents have noticed their company’s responses to the GFC having a moderate or significant effect in this area. HR is now faced with a “changed organisational psyche”, when employees realise for the first time that their company faces the same hard realities as everyone else; and workers who no longer feel in control of their careers, creating a “prison mentality” where employees who aren’t happy don’t feel confident to leave;

diminishing returns on the communications investment – communication (almost to the extent of over-communication) has become a more important task to resource, and HR has identified a need to “communicate the same message in many media: some like email, others prefer face-to-face, and others like to have opportunities for discussion”. The drain on HR’s already limited resources is proving problematic, the report says;

employees in need of support – the HR role is now more about providing reassurance and support for employees, with respondents noticing more cases of personal trauma such as financial problems, stress and relationship breakdowns; and

reduced resources – some 60 per cent of companies are attempting to meet these challenges with less HR resources than they had a year ago. Only one company reported an increase in HR funding.

http://www.hrdaily.com.au/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&nav=1&selkey=1141&utm_source=daily+email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+Email+Article+Link