January 2011   Vol. 6 No. 1
In case you didn't get the memo, companies are making plans to expand their workforce in the coming months.

While not expecting a major recovery, recently released data from The Conference Board's Employment Trends Index and the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that the U.S. employment index climbed to its highest level in two years.

Okay, so maybe you won't be hiring 7,000 people in the next two years like Ford Motor Company. But if you and your organization are ready to get back on the road to prosperity, this could be encouraging news. For many HR professionals and other business leaders the turnaround will be tempered with some challenges: making tough choices about worthwhile projects, programs and activities; finding ways to accomplish essential tasks, often with limited resources.

Which is why it's critical that you take stock now of your human resources and capital strategies to make sure they address the challenges of hiring, retention, and people development in a post-recession environment.

That's why I'm kicking off my first e-newsletter of 2011 by sharing eleven key strategies to improving your workplace. I hope you will give them consideration as part of your planning for the year ahead. These suggestions come from the Society for Human Resource Management with the input from over a thousand corporate human resources and talent management leaders.

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Les Gore

11 Strategies to (Dramatically) Improve Your Workplace in 2011
Make your human resources strategies address the post-recession challenges.

11 strategies to improve your workplace in 2011 


The following eleven suggestions from the Society for Human Resource Management cover critical workplace issues such as lifting pay freezes, restoring 401(k) matches incrementally, investing in top managers and critical jobs, rebuilding trust and boosting morale, and more. 

  1. Look at succession planning and talent acquisition.
Although unemployment stubbornly hovers around 10 percent (better in some areas), employees - especially high-potential employees - are growing impatient. Yearning for higher salaries, better benefits and greater challenges, many are thinking about moving on and up. They're firing out resumes, calling headhunters and listening to hiring pitches. These actions were not in the cards a few months back when employers and talent hunkered down.

Expect a feeding frenzy for talent, says Hal Johnson, chairman, Global HR Practice, at Korn/Ferry International in New York City. Competitors will be on the prowl, wanting to raid your best and brightest. Chief executive officers and board members will be looking for assurances that you have a succession plan to effectively identify and develop talent.

"The number one concern is the pipeline and succession; most CEOs and boards are disappointed with the status of their succession plans. Some don't have full-fledged plans in operation; others have them, but they lack rigor," Johnson says. He recommends being two people deep in the top eight positions.

Think about whether you'll have the talent to thrive when the economy turns. If not, move quickly - like J. Kim Scholes, the vice president of human resources at Network Communications Inc. in Atlanta did. She initiated an in-depth review of managers at all levels that looks at their past performance, their performance in their current positions and their potential performance in roles with more responsibility. In addition to identifying high-potential talent, the review will allow HR professionals to advertise who the high-potential employees are and to develop, support and invest in them.

Keep a lookout for outside talent that can energize and fill gaps in your pipeline. Headhunters are an obvious resource, but there are also advantages to involving the management team in identifying prospects. For example, executives at Thermo Fisher Scientific, (a leading provider of life sciences tools, software and services), keep a list of potential external recruits. "We keep track of where they are and regularly consider annually what positions they might fill," says Elizabeth Bolgiano, senior vice president of human resources at the 35,400-employee company based in Waltham, Mass.

The other 10 suggestions are as follows. For the full text, please click here for the PDF version.
  1. Lift pay freezes and restore 401(k) matches incrementally.
  2. Invest in top managers and critical jobs.
  3. Prepare for legal minefields.
  4. Resolve to be an effective "consigliere."
  5. Enhance transparency in support of ethics.
  6. Rebuild trust and boost morale.
  7. Look for innovative approaches.
  8. Find a mix of non monetary rewards.
  9. Focus on core business.
  10. Learn from the past, but question assumptions.

Recent Issues

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What Your Employees Owe You
(December 2010)

Why Fighting Bullies Is Good Business
(November 2010)

Poaching: Stalking The Passive Candidate
(October 2010)

If you would you like to comment about this article or have ideas about future articles, please email me at [email protected].

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About Les Gore

Les Gore, founder and managing partner of Boston-based Executive Search International has more than 25 years of recruiting, career development and
human capital experience, working with individuals and organizations ranging from multinational corporations to small, entrepreneurial businesses.

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