Focusing on people issues is vital to weather recession
Right skills in right areas is critical; people cannot be an after-thought
Organisations need to place as much emphasis on having the right people skills in the right operational areas as they do on optimising their systems and processes if they are to survive the current downturn and be in a position to take advantage of the next economic upswing.
This is the view of Jaco Kotze, head of people capital management at Johannesburg-based business transformation consultancy, Ovations.
“Now is the ideal time for organisations to be reviewing the structure and design of their workforce and skills make-up to ensure that it best suits their strategies and objectives,” he says.
“Placing all the focus on processes and systems is short-sighted as people have to make these initiatives and interventions work. People cannot be an after-thought, they have to be central to all planning and budgeting that takes place.”
Kotze says it is critical for organisations to implement intensive change management and training programmes if new processes and systems are introduced, as without complete buy-in from staff, results will be compromised.
He cautions that failure to undertake effective change management can lead to time-consuming and expensive damage control and “fixing up” at a later stage.
“People issues are usually seen as soft issues, but if they are not handled properly they can have a hugely negative impact on any organisation,” says Kotze.
“Investing in people and finding meaningful ways to recognise, measure and reward them is extremely important as it leads to better workforce morale and ultimately to improved organisational performance.”
On the subject of cutting back on staff during the downturn, Kotze believes this has to be handled with enormous care as losing the wrong people can be detrimental and difficult to recover from.
He believes that companies often count on “natural attrition” to reduce staff numbers, but this often results in the loss of good, reliable and skilled staff.
“If you need to reduce the size of your workforce, do it for the right reasons. It is not just a numbers game. You need to do an analysis of who you want to retain and who you can do without. You also need to ascertain whether or not you have the right people to take your organisation forward when the economic upswing occurs,” adds Kotze.
“Keeping your best people and being able to attract good people is crucial for the long term success of any organisation.”
Ideally, says Kotze, organisations need to ensure that their focus is as much on people as it is on processes, that change management is fully utilised when new processes and systems are introduced, and that restructuring or downsizing is done is such a way that the right people are retained.
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