So my finger crossing didn’t have a great effect then?! Way too much rain for my liking this summer! The kids are back at school and I am fully back to work; thankfully my co-director is great about me wanting to spend time at home with the family over the summer so I return to a calm and efficient office and everything feels under control. I am pleased to be getting back in to the swing of things and excited that I have appointments to get out and meet business owners and managers who are taking us up on our offer of a Free HR Audit to review policies, procedures, personnel files, and staff contracts.

When we talk to people we hear concerns about the credit crunch, the economy and the possibility of recession. We are talking to business owners and managers about ways to reduce costs, minimise risks and at the same time hold on to great staff that will help the business survive and grow in the months and years to come. We have a quarterly column in our local chamber of commerce news about “HR Stuff” so the latest one outlines our top ten pointers for beating the recession. I thought I’d share them with you here and if you want more ideas about how to put any of these in to practice then drop me a line.

1. Ensure your are winning in the War For Talent – does your recruitment process result in you getting the best people in the right jobs and do you make sure that you hold on to high performers?

2. Explore alternatives to recruiting to fill vacancies – could you reorganise workloads and up skill the staff you have? This offers great opportunities for staff development at the same time as minimising your staff budget and potentially avoiding redundancies in future.

3. Maintain excellent communication – keep people in the know so that your staff trust you, which enables them to remain positive andfocused on their work.

4. Share the responsibility – encourage everyone in the business to find ways to reduce expenditure, improve efficiencies or identify new revenue streams.

5. Focus on your customers – create a culture where all staff take responsibility for customer satisfaction and your customers are more likely to remain loyal and recommend you to others.

6. Keep training and developing your staff – we know that the training budget is often one of the first to be cut in lean times, but it can be a false economy. Spend your budget wisely to maintain key skills and prepare for future business needs and ensure that all learning is used to best advantage back in the workplace.

7. Manage employee performance – do you meet staff regularly, set objectives, appraise performance, and deal with problems directly and immediately? Do you have an effective disciplinary and grievance process? Under performers cost you money, lower morale and drain the energy of other staff so it pays to manage performance well.

8. Manage absence – effective absence monitoring, record keeping and back to work interviews will significantly reduce non-genuine sickness and unauthorised absence, whilst managing annual leave enables better planning of business critical work.

9. Plan for the worst – consider what you will do if you need to make redundancies; what is your policy and procedure, and what package will you offer? Making these decisions before they are needed (and hopefully won’t be needed at all) allows you to deal with them objectively and to ensure that you will be legally compliant.

10. Minimise your risks – getting it wrong in terms of staff contracts, essential policies and procedures, or health and safety can be incredibly costly so ensure that you are legally compliant before you find yourself at a tribunal!

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