Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Help Wanted part 2 - bringing talent retention to the recession

Exactly a year ago today I wrote a post called "Help Wanted: Finding staff in a Travel 2.0 world". The quick summary from that story was that in March 2008 it was almost impossible to fill an open head count role in the travel industry. My inbox at the time was full of job descriptions from entrepreneurs looking for referrals and notes from recruitment consultants looking for names...any name.

Now, 365 days later, saying that the world has changed is using a an over-used cliché because we have all run out of ways to describe a world economy in free fall. I could not find people to match to the opportunities because it seemed that everyone had the perfect job.

Now, my inbox contains a new email every day with a high quality resume. Top class BDMs, senior marketeers, product builders and more looking for roles after cuts and efficiency rounds. The only recruitment consultant contacting me with a job to fill (rather than a pitching for work) is looking for a role in a country that has banned Chianti, Chardonnay, Chablis, Chivas and all the other great "Ch" words.

Don't misread me. I am not turning against my own optimistic words from last September. There is no doubt that the travel industry will come through this and growth will return. But I am going to add a point to my comments from September. Initially I called the global f'n crisis (GFC) a chance for product/company innovation. I am adding to that that it is a moment for people/talent retention. If the CVs that I am seeing are an indication of the talent that is being let go then all in the industry need to take a moment and work first on retention plans during hard times rather than turning first to cutting and shedding.

thanks to Paul Photo Byrne on flikr for the photo

PS - need more proof of the GFC? China just announced a 20 million increase in the unemployment rate - effectively the entire population of Australia.

PPS - looks like my week long break from blogging lasted a day. Finally found some late night time to rejoin the blogerati.


Steve Sherlock said...

good point on retention. if we were to add up the amount of money spent on training, value of the knowledge gained and value of contacts vs. how much is saved in next 12 months from layoff, numbers might add up in favour of retention.

but i guess cash reserves for many businesses aren't deep enough or dont want the risk.

@takingbreak: it seems that as soon as you didn't feel obliged to keep blogging, that made it easier to blog. probably some psychological explanation for that.

Tim Hughes said...

@steve - you are spot on. The minute I posted the "taking a break" note my mind cleared and half a dozen post ideas came flooding in

mqkansil said...

I agree. Unfortunately, cost cutting (including layoffs) is often done by just picking a number, rather than making the effort to really think through what will forward the overall goal (i.e., company survival/success). So great people get laid off at the same time as not-so-great people, and companies don't make the effort to maximize what they get out of the people who remain.

The question is: is the time/effort to make strategic choices on retention worth it? I agree with @steve that the maths would work out in favor - especially if you also consider the value that gets lost by those who remain and are de-motivated (or the wrong people).

Tim Hughes said...

@mqkansil - great to have you on the blog!...and agree completely