Q: What is a RIF?
A: It’s a reduction in force.
Q: We’re about to do a reduction in force. How can you convince senior leadership to buy into the long-term HR planning strategy?
A: This is a tough, tough challenge. I hope that I have given you some ideas about using the information that you have at your fingertips. It’s also about understanding your business and the finances of your organization. If you aren’t well-versed in your balance sheets, or cash flow analysis, or you don’t know what the economic reality is for your organization then I would get up to speed with it quickly. Because, there might be opportunities to provide some incentive for how we can accomplish short-term HR goals while also making sure that we do not jeopardize long-term HR goals.
And I think, again, it goes back to gaining credibility for yourself and what you’re saying in knowing your business and understanding the impact and knowing the reality of what is happening in your organization. So, again, I sympathize with you and I hope that you can tap into, maybe, your local HR organization to get some folks to help you with some ideas on how to sell that message. But, I think it’s really, really important to speak the language of the organization’s leaders and to speak from a business perspective.
Q: You spoke about being optimistic about the future. We’ve just come through a five year period of staff shortages. Does it make sense to be laying those people off now? And, how do we help managers think long-term to avoid short-term knee-jerk reactions that have a long-term implication?
A: I talked a little bit about, as much as possible, getting folks to keep that long-term perspective but isn’t it amazing how the short-term pain of what it was like two years ago to not be able to fill those employee positions is so quickly forgotten when you need to cut organizational resources quickly. I think it’s important that we remind managers about what it took to get those employees on board and the investment that we’ve put in those employees already. And, certainly, for a lot of organizations you cannot avoid layoffs, but when it can be done I think it’s really critical.
Q: How can job-sharing be a viable HR strategy, particularly with seasoned staff who may want to step back but not fully retire? It seems as if there are certain disadvantages of job sharing for the employer. We offer benefits at 20 hours, so job sharing can actually be seen as more expensive and present challenges when there is employee turnover.
A: Absolutely agree with that. If you are providing the benefits at 20 hours then that’s one of the things you have to take a look at. Once you do all the HR planning, once you realize what you’re going to need, once you come up with some of those creative HR strategies, you need to model your HR programs around them. If the 20 hours a week providing benefits is creating a challenge to your organization in achieving what it needs to do then it’s time to rethink the 20 hours a week. And, that’s what I mean about not staying in status quo. Be willing to challenge the HR practices that have been in place and be willing to take a look at those things because maybe it is good to take a look at offering job sharing so that you can retain some of that top talent who has all of that information that you need but isn’t willing to put in a 40 hour workweek.
That being said, you need to look at whether the potential impact of taking away those benefits is going to affect their decision. And, that could very well be. You could have folks that say, “Well, goodness, I would be interested in job sharing only if I could maintain my benefits.” My last organization, one of my responsibilities was to counsel employees as they were retiring. Often, employees were not retiring, not because of income but because of health benefits. So, it is really important as you look at job-sharing as a viable HR Planning Strategy - that you look at the practices that support it and make sure that they’re in alignment with your HR goals.
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