Archive for January, 2009

2009 Employment Storm

Friday, January 9th, 2009

The current issue of MacLeans headlines “the employment storm of 2009 is on its way”. The main losses will be in construction, mining, oil, gas, and auto manufacturing. Projected job losses will impact industries such as retail, marketing, and advertising. For more information read any newspaper.

Economists, if correct, project that the pain will be brief and we’ll return to prosperity later this year or early in 2010. Optimism and hope for a timely recovery will help all of us head to the light at the end of this tunnel. 

For employers, staff shortages may take a reprieve and turnover levels may go down.  Employees are more likely to stay in their current position and ride out the wave. If they are looking around, they know that even the larger organizations are being impacted by the market. The ego-building period of multiple job offers is also on hold as employers take cautious steps. And, individuals nearing retirement are now extending their exit date to continue earning while they wait for their retirement nest egg to return to health. 

Costs of staff replacement go down, and your intellectual capital is retained.  Teams benefit by having the business knowledge, relationships and expertise intact. Use this time as an opportunity to build internal capacity; develop skillsets for succession planning; and recognize achievements. Increase communication with staff to keep them well informed.  Ask what types of support they need to support them personally.

I heard Suze Orman speaking yesterday – she’s the money guru who just launched a new book on basic financial planning for 2009. She has sound ideas on paying off personal debt, saving, and stabilizing for uncertainty.  Employees could start a discussion group based on the book and share ideas.

Review my previous Two-Minute-Tip on “Market Turmoil” for ideas on maintaining and building healthy employee relations, and keeping productivity levels up.

Who knows, when the market turns around, employees who were thinking of leaving may decide they’re right where they want to be.

Workplace Resolutions

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

January 5 will see many employees returning to work after enjoying some well deserved time off with family and friends. They will have shed a lot of the stresses of the previous year and be well rested and ready to begin anew.  Some may quickly realize that the stresses of last year are still there, and like stepping into an old pair of shoes, things aren’t off to a good start. What wasn’t working last year? What caused those stresses? They may have forgotten over the winter vacation, but they’ll remember upon returning to work. There’s a window of opportunity in January, when many performance plans are set, to chart a course for improvement and changing work day habits.  

Personal resolutions don’t last without continued focus and support, but the workplace can be an excellent environment for change, through structure, feedback and check-ins. Scan the horizon to see what’s coming to mind as you read this. Yes, you’ll be setting new performance plans this month, but get your employees thinking along lines of what they’d like to improve and change.

Have them form one or two behavioural goals they’d like to focus on, then discuss what they envision as success. A solid performing employee who enjoys their work and is exceeding their objectives may be consistently working additional hours and they realize it’s affecting their home life. You have as much to gain by supporting them to make some adjustments to ensure their work/life balance is in check. This is only one example. Meet with employees in January and ask them what they’d like to improve to be more effective. You’ll get a variety of answers and that’s the beauty of understanding the individual needs of your staff. You need to ask and listen.  

Offer your support, guidance, and keep the communication channels open so they can raise this with you at anytime. 


Leaders that take an interest in the development and personal success of employees are on the right path; well, the only path when you think in terms of retention, employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and providing a healthy work environment where people can flourish. Who wins? Each individual, you, and your business.