Having had time to reflect over the holidays, I spent time thinking about the impact of the last 12 month’s recession on our company culture. Our team working tirelessly to do more with less to satisfy expectations of the market.
Some leaders have taken full advantage of the fact that they can retain staff with little effort in this market – after all where will they go?
It’s perhaps too early to talk about the tide turning, or is it?
Looking back at previous upturns in the oil price we can see that the timeline between lay-offs versus ‘talent wars’ can be a matter of months. The laws of supply and demand in a political context means that none of us really know when the tidal wave of change will come. This leaves us unprepared and out-paced by our competitors. Many leaders are unable to put strategies in place to address this so have to react quickly which without doubt leads to customer complaints and the loss of contracts.
It’s budget time and an opportune time to set our strategy so what do we need to do to get “our houses” or companies in order?
Focus on Your Culture
Reflect on the past year and how you have managed the downsizing. Even better ask your staff. There will be a myriad of feedback good and bad. The first stage of culture change is to get those “worms out of the can” as often once staff have had a chance to vent about their frustrations they can move on. It’s always better for them to vent to you than your competitors or worse even your clients. Act on the feedback. This isn’t about retention schemes and pay rises at this stage but acknowledge the issues and address what you can; this is likely to relate to communication and the way in which change has been handled.
Understand Your Current Market Positioning
With various cost reduction processes being deployed over past years, it’s likely you have no idea where you sit in the market relating to reward. It might not be time to make any changes but know your position before your staff start to indicate this as they leave. Remember the best company cultures can offer lower pay due to loyalty and commitment of staff.
Build Your Pipeline of Resources
Be ahead of your competitors. Recruitment teams have been decimated and as a result your databases and resource pools have dwindled. Map the market, utilise interim solutions to keep headcount and costs low; to ensure you have an active pipeline of people. Some studies are suggesting that nearly 30% of employees in the oil and gas marketplace are looking for a new job. So some contingency recruitment is needed.
Maximise Your Current Profitability – for most of you your people costs will be the majority of your direct spend. As the recession months have rolled out more and more staff may have become disengaged. Disengagement costs you money. Achievers suggest that a disengaged employer costs you 34% of their payroll cost. So even SME companies can leak several hundred thousands of pounds in operational errors, poor customer service and increase absence cost.
Prepare Your Organisation For Growth
It takes time to change our mindset from recession to growth and this could be the reason why many may miss the opportunity to pull back some of that revenue shrinkage from past years. It doesn’t cost much money to make sure you have the right leadership team, an engaged workforce, the right organisational model and a fit for purpose business strategy. Those businesses who have thrived or at least survived throughout this period have managed to adapt their offering strategically to the current market context.
It’s a timing game we know that but be prepared, or be last!
Dean Hunter is the founder of Hunter Adams.