logoetsRecession-hit organisations need ‘to invest in their best’ to boost employee engagement and to lead their company out of recession. Up-skilling is also a key factor when down-sizing, concludes Performance Management Review, a report on the views of 175,000 employees from some of the world’s biggest companies, published today by human resources consultancy ETS plc.

Experts in driving employee performance, ETS recommends companies take five steps to get the most from their down-sized workforces:

  1. Address ‘redundancy’ morale. One third (34%) of employees say their employer isn’t motivating them to do their best work, which is not surprising given the prospect of redundancy. “Fear of redundancy and ‘survivor guilt’ will hit productivity at exactly the wrong time for companies suffering in the recession,” advises Betsy Travis, senior consultant at ETS and author of the report.
  2. Be clear about what will make the company thrive. Currently, a quarter of employees don’t know their company’s objectives, which leads Helen Frewin, Head of People Performance at Gala Coral Group, to comment: “Business leaders need to be direct and unequivocal about what will make the company survive and thrive, and ensure each individual knows what role they need to play.”
  3. Don’t ditch career and development initiatives. The people remaining after job cuts need to feel that their skills and careers are progressing. With one third of employees unhappy with their training and development (30%) and career development (33%), companies should be concerned about their top talent leaving for another employer. Says Charlie Keeling, HR Director of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP: “Recession or not, there’s always a market for talented individuals. Companies that close development and career programmes will pay the price in their brightest and best people leaving for other opportunities.”
  4. Focus on rewarding results. Four out of ten (38%) of employees are dissatisfied with how their efforts are measured. “Companies need to automate performance management – everything from setting objectives to rewarding high performance. The focus should be on achieving results, not chasing paperwork,” says Dominic Wake, director of ETS plc and co-author of the report.
  5. Recruit front-line managers to rally morale. Most employees feel well-managed (81%) and supported (85%) by their line managers. “Highly-regarded managers are the key ingredient for a motivated workforce,” notes Wake, “and when they understand the objectives, they should be given the freedom to decide how to achieve the recession strategy. This bottom-up approach may feel uncomfortable to many senior executives but is essential if the whole workforce is to unite around a common purpose.”