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Making the most of your talent in a downturn


By Paul Lambert and Rhea Jacob

Talent management is now more important than ever in enabling companies to meet their immediate and longer-term critical business needs. Companies need to develop talent management solutions that allow for changes in business objectives and targets, that yield quicker results and that don’t break the bank.

Is your organisation’s talent under threat?

Has your organisation been impacted in any of the following ways as a result of the economic downturn?

  • Employee morale and motivation is down

  • Recruitment is reduced or frozen

  • Employees in your organisation are moving on as a matter of choice rather than job loss

  • You’ve had to scale back your learning and development schemes.

We’re finding that problems like these are common as organisations make wider process and structural changes which have a significant impact on talent management strategies. (Some might think that retention isn’t a problem at the moment, but a recent CIPD survey tells us that while employees are more likely to stay with their current employer because of the recession, a third of them would leave if they could[1].)

Given these pressures, talent management is now more critical than ever.

How can you respond to current challenges while developing sustainable talent management solutions for the future?

Organisations need talent management methods that deal with the short-term realities of the downturn but also position them to meet their long-term strategic objectives. The following approaches fit the bill.

Smart cost-cutting. When restructuring, organisations need to take care that their remaining employees stay engaged. Leaders must provide appropriate coaching, and line managers too should be equipped to develop talent effectively. Measures like these will maintain morale, while growing the organisation’s capabilities to meet both immediate needs and longer-term goals.

Better career development opportunities. By putting the right people into the right (challenging) roles at the right time, the business can motivate and develop its talented employees. This approach should be underpinned by investment in learning and development, which must be carefully targeted towards the organisation’s strategic goals.

Increased focus on performance management.  When more work has to be done by fewer people, it’s important that those people feel they are being consistently and fairly measured. Strengthening line managers’ focus on performance management is an effective way to reassure staff, while also moving the enterprise towards its strategic objectives.


To learn more about making the most of talent in a downturn, please contact us now.


[1] CIPD, Survey: Employee attitudes and the recession 2009, page 20