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Keep recruiting, even in full crisis!

Although motivated employees are the foundations of each company, recruitment and training are being neglected in times of crisis. You need to cherish both concepts like water in the desert because I don’t know any company only working with robots, so far. Even in the most sophisticated sectors, each process is being managed by a human being.

A company’s success depends on the quality of its labor force; it’s as simple as that! Karel, one of my acquaintances who became CEO of a middle-sized company a few years ago, also experienced this. He came into power after a merger resulting from a crisis within the sector. Due to an unstable market, bad figures, a declining demand…, this merger was the only option left and savings were necessary. And usually, companies save on training and recruitment in the first place.

Saving on recruitment costs is easy and looks nice. Lower labor costs and a higher output per staff member. What else do you want? Suddenly, the figures look much better. Or more precisely: the short-term figures. In the long term however, you are undermining the foundations of your company.

Because the crisis will probably be followed by a period of careful growth. When the market becomes attractive again, you will need extra people to keep up with the demand. If you urgently have to catch up in such a situation, you will be late. Unfortunately, Karel can confirm this; by blindly applying their economy measures, his predecessors had stopped recruiting new people.

This merger company still has strong brands, a decent customer portfolio, innovative projects… but staff turnover is its Achilles tendon. When the market becomes attractive again, the company will definitely have to deal with problems because its staff will probably not be able to meet the demand. Moreover, we have not discussed the brain drain yet. Knowledge has literally left the building. And what about the competitors? They are gratefully enjoying the expertise your company has been building up.

In a continuous way
Moral of the story: focus on the inflow because you will have some outflow anyway. The best way to do this, is not by following the cyclical fluctuations but by proceeding in a well-considered, continuous way. The labor costs of a few young people won’t make the difference; not in the short term, but definitely not in the long term. Instead, we recommend you to tackle inefficient processes, lack of innovation, bad customer service… These are the elements really undermining your cost-effectiveness!

However, young talented people are harder and harder to find. You should read the column written by my colleague Paul Donkers. So, the time has come to broaden your outlook. Keep recruiting people, even in harsh times. Keep investing in training. Perhaps, you can retrain older employees? Since they often have lots of experience, their knowledge won’t be lost this way. Moreover, they can be very valuable to starters. Avoid that Demotion is being perceived as a taboo.

  • Is there still a future for your company? If so, keep recruiting. It is your responsibility to compensate the natural outflow.
  • Find out where you can find the best young talents. You can, for instance, try to actively recruit them in universities or on fairs. Make sure to offer attractive trainee posts. Try to hire young people before they bind themselves to another company.
  • Ensure a mentoring culture. Don’t leave starters to their own devices. Experienced insiders can advise and assist them.
  • Don’t be afraid of employing people aged 50 and over! Experienced older employees are very valuable. Try to obtain a perfect mix of enthusiastic starters and experienced people, so that the latter can help the former to channel their energy.
Believe me: in your company, the people make the difference. Motivated employees lead to customer satisfaction. And this ‘wow feeling’ will improve the healthy growth of your company in the long term. Successful companies are fully aware of this. Just take a look around!

Have a nice weekend!


By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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