Winter is coming and it appears so is yet another season of tough decisions for organisations, as there is a real danger they won't make as much money as they desire before year-end. Tough decisions usually equate to cutting back on employee-related things first, so look out for these:
- Pay freezes
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: Our employees are our best asset and we have a recognition culture.
What these freezes mean in reality: These affect most employees, but senior leadership bonuses are often still honoured and new hires in senior roles can negotiate more than the last person.
- Hiring freezes
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: We want to hire the best talent to power our organisation to success.
What these freezes mean in reality: Get ready for business cases for frontline roles to be refused by the HR Director yet those who shout the loudest can still obtain extra admin support.
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: We care about our employees as people.
What these cuts mean in reality: Whereas some departments will slash jobs, there are always some which are mysteriously immune to job cuts. The remaining employees can then show their gratitude for being allowed to stay by doing the work of 1.5 or 2 people for the same pay.
- Conferences and team events cancelled
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: We operate hybrid working, and believe employees should spend time in the office together for that all-important face time to network and build relationships with colleagues.
What these cuts mean in reality: We’ve already paid for our office and want to utilise the cost – but we don’t want to pay anything extra. Ironically enough, travel for work purposes becomes discouraged… perhaps face-to-face is only important in the office?
- L&D budgets slashed
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: Your development is important to us and we want you to grow with us.
What these cuts mean in reality: The tough economic environment calls for an embargo on learning new things. Presumably no other organisation in the industry is developing their people either, so it will be status quo anyway.
- Wellbeing budgets slashed
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: Wellbeing is at the heart of our Employee Value Proposition – we want a healthy you!
What these cuts mean in reality: Free fruit, office massages, external speakers and providers etc. suddenly become ‘nice to haves’ and are cancelled.
- Christmas parties cancelled
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: We're a diverse, multi-faith organisation.
What these cuts mean in reality: (For countries which are predominantly Christian) All of a sudden, Christmas isn’t seen as 'inclusive’ so it's felt wrong to so brazenly celebrate this festival.
- Employee connectivity projects put 'on hold'
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: We encourage cross-team collaboration, and give our employees a voice.
What these holds mean in reality: Senior Leaders can continue to focus upon top-down, carrot and stick methods. Oddly enough, back-end IT projects still seem to get the go-ahead.
- Internal promotions put 'on hold'
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: We're proud to grow our own and have a track record of internal promotions.
What these holds mean in reality: Although people won't be promoted or paid more, they can still have the extra responsibility and if they do a good job (for a year or so) they may be rewarded one day.
- Employee benefits disappear
What most organisations have on their careers website and intranet: It’s not just about the pay packet – we offer a range of extra benefits for our employees to reward them for their great work.
What these cuts mean in reality: Discount schemes, gym memberships, savings on cinema tickets etc. are often quietly withdrawn - often with reasoning being underusage. Do look out for car and petrol allowances for senior leaders still being claimed, though.
Alternatives to cuts, cuts, cuts?
So, what’s the alternative to the ten things? For a start, organisations can display integrity by acting upon their words. If they act upon their promises, they’re more likely to have an engaged workforce.
Huge efficiencies can be made by reducing turnover (it costs around 20% of someone’s salary to replace them) and reducing sickness (so you may wish to reconsider slashing the wellbeing budget or use it more wisely.) People who do the work know and understand it the best, so tap into their knowledge – they can help you to get through the tough times by ideating better ways of working.
Seek to increase productivity. This may mean spending a little money on the right tools, but it will be worth it if productivity gains are made. And motivated, productive employees will perform better, which will boost profits, which will negate the need for all the cuts.
In short, start with focussing on the Employee Experience, don’t start with destroying the Employee Experience. Never forget, you will still need your people when you get to the other side. And they will remember how they were treated.
If you’d like to know more about creating great employee experiences, then we offer a course on The EX Toolkit.