Every day, companies roll out employee engagement surveys and find themselves with some interesting insights. And every day, most of them don't know how to use those insights to truly improve performance and the employee experience. Clearly, change is needed-and there's not a moment to spare: a few years ago, employees started leaving their jobs in record numbers, and this trend shows no sign of abating. Any company that lacks a strategy for putting its employee engagement survey insights to work and a roadmap for operationalizing its culture is likely to keep losing employees.
For a long time, the business world was a buyers' market: there were lots of qualified candidates out there, and companies could be choosy about which ones to hire. In recent years, however, that has shifted to a sellers' market: companies are working hard to attract the attention of a small (and, in some fields, shrinking) pool of top talent. This trend predates the COVID-19 pandemic by at least a few years, but the global crisis accelerated some aspects of it.
Researchers have found that companies with a more diverse workforce and leadership team are overall more profitable than their peers that lack such diversity.1 Many factors lead to this growth in revenue. Notably, today’s applicants want to work in strong company cultures that value people and how employees contribute to a company’s success. This interest drives top talent to companies with well-developed inclusive cultures and improves retention among current staff. An engaged workforce tends to be more productive—and higher productivity generally means higher profitability.
HR's role in a recession is to mitigate stress, resolve tensions, maintain morale, and ensure that employees continue to be rewarded for their hard work. This is what HR should be doing all of the time, of course, but these tasks are especially important during economic downturns. Drawing on respect and empathy as guiding principles, HR can help their organizations and employees navigate the challenges that emerge during a recession.