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How do I recession proof my business?Posted about 2 months ago by Nick Boulton

Employers around the country are bracing themselves for the next several months. According to just about every news outlet and financial advisory firm, we are expecting the UK economy to remain in recession until at least the end of summer 2023, more likely beyond.

The question on most people’s minds is, “how do I recession-proof my business?”

With many businesses feeling the pinch of soaring costs, how to make savings is a topic that is top of most agendas. Salary cuts, pay freezes, recruitment pauses, and even laying off staff look like viable options. But in my opinion, it’s wise to look beyond the short-term and more at how life could be post-recession.

In a world of such uncertainty, one thing we know is, the economy will bounce back, it’s just a matter of when.

Unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been in years, and for every company suffering through layoffs, new jobs are being created elsewhere. One thing is for sure, the hiring roller-coaster looks certain to continue.  

We all like stability and no one thrives under the dark cloud of despair. The last thing you want is for your employees to worry about losing their jobs. Nothing stifles creative juices more than the imminent arrival of the axe!

So, if you are looking to stay ahead but not take undue risks over the next 6 months, what are the things you should be thinking about?

 

Even more communication:

When things start to get difficult the normal trend is for businesses and senior management to clamp up. Communication lines go down, creating even more uncertainty. In my experience, people prefer honesty, even if it’s not good news. If you need everyone to put in a shift and pull together, the more you can tell them the better. If you’re trying to build your business and create a culture of honesty and togetherness, they need to share not only the good times but the difficult ones too. Realistically wouldn’t you want to know if your job was on the line? I’d at least want the opportunity to fight for it.

Train more, not less:

Facing an economic slump or downturn the temptation for most companies is to cut training and development. But in a market where there is a massive skills shortage there’s an overwhelming case to take a long-term view and in fact, spend more on training. The upskilling of employees should be on the radar of every business, especially those with niche or hard-to-fill vacancies. People tend to stay in their roles longer if they feel they’re being invested in and given the opportunity to progress and develop.

Call in the experts:

With the danger of sounding like a broken record, when you have highly skilled vacancies to fill handling recruitment in-house is not a valid way to cut costs during a recession. It’s a false economy. Everyone does it as it looks like an easy low-hanging fruit to “cut”, but 100% of the time you will still need to look for expert assistance and ultimately it will have wasted time and cost you more money. It is a proven fact that when it really counts, you’re far more likely to hire the right candidate quickly and without disruption. This is because you have a trusted recruitment partner, who can pinpoint the exact skills and the right culture fit for a specific team.

 

But in my opinion, one of the biggest shifts in recruitment strategies for 2023 will be the way we recruit with marketing at the core.

Over the last 12-18 months the trend has been to hire big internal acquisition teams in order to secure top talent. Whilst this worked incredibly well to start with when there was an abundance of talent on the market, this is no longer true, and “talent teams” can no longer afford to just act as an HR/Admin function. 

Marketing strategies are going to be more critical than ever to proactively draw in and attract the best talent. Engaging with jobseekers, keeping them interested, and using all the tools at your disposal; careers sites, social media, employee stories, job ads, employer branding, and SEO, to deliver a personalised experience that paints a compelling picture of life at your company, is going to be critical to your success over the coming months.

This is a new world for many talent acquisition and HR teams. Creating content, engaging with potential employees, nurturing a pool of passive candidates, and building a pipeline of interest takes time, skill, and experience. 

If you haven’t started this journey already, this needs to be top of your priorities, or at least reach out to an expert who can help you. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope you survive the coming storm; you’ll only live to regret it. I should know, I’m talking from experience.