Monday, February 23, 2009

Rebounding After Job Loss

Starting Over After Job Loss

I ran across a new blog late last week that I have been looking at with some interest. The blog is Paths to HR Greatness. The blog is written by Martha Finney.

The blog topic is a career in Human Resources. As Martha writes:
"The road to a world-class HR career is paved with challenges, invitations, rejections, creativity, compliance, taking a stand, taking the lead, taking the backseat, falling on your sword, rising to the occasion (but never rising to the bait), keeping your vision alive and inspiring others to join you. If you're called to HR, you've come to the right place"

Martha has written several topical posts about layoffs and HR in 2009, but what I am really looking forward to is getting a copy of Martha's new book, Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss, which should be a big seller and a helpful and hopeful topic. Check out the related blog as well.

Here's a sample of what Martha is thinking about relevant to Human Resources.

So how can HR keep the faith with future generations of workers when so many companies (not yours certainly) are breaking faith with their current employees? Here are some ideas, and I sure would welcome more as they occur to you:

Assume the leadership that is rightfully HR’s to govern the lay-off process in your organization. Make your process absolutely top-notch, humane and as generous as you can and drive it from the top. Don’t passively allow individual departments, divisions, businesses, leaders decide who they’ll run it as independent fiefdoms. That’s when stupid management tricks begin to take over.

Make humane the guiding principle of all your lay-off procedures and practices. Tell people what to expect as soon as you know. Maybe some essential talent will ditch the ship before you want them to, but you’re also going to see that the bulk of your people will stick around and help you turn off the lights – if that is indeed your new mission.

Give your people every reason to go home and say good things about your company. Offer them lavish advance notice that their jobs will be eliminated; give them the flexibility they need to search for new jobs while on their current job; pay for training that they need; offer them developmental assignments that will give them essential experience that they can talk about in upcoming interviews. If you have to furlough them only temporarily and you really want them to still be available to you, pay them a reduced salary if they dedicate their free time to community volunteer work. If you have to lay them off completely, remember that you still need to get their work done. So implement new contract-worker programs to keep them onboard as freelancers.

Make sure that coaches and child/family therapists are available to your employees as a resource. Your people may be so thrown by the shock of losing their jobs that they don’t realize how what they say at home will affect the motivation and dreams their children will have about the future. Families in the throes of this stress, shock and even despair shouldn’t be surprised to see school performance suffer and grades plummet during this time. No parent wants to see their children fail, either now in school or later in life. So this is a crucial time in their own children’s development. Help them out with this.

There are all sorts of basic, human decency reasons why employers should support the entire family through a lay-off crisis. But this is business, right? So here’s the business reason to remember that children are watching: One of these days you’re going to want to turn the lights back on again. There’s a whole generation out there who you’re going to count on to throw the switch. Whether they will or won’t tomorrow depends completely on how you treat their parents today.

This is the kind of thinking we can use right now!

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