Achieving More With Less: 4 Strategies for HR Effectiveness During a Recession

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Achieving More With Less: 4 Strategies for HR Effectiveness During a Recession

The old adage less is more is poised to have a resurgence this recession. 

With staff and cost reductions happening left and right (including deep cuts to HR teams), it’s easy to see the landscape as nothing but bleak. All of this is made even more complicated by an ill-defined problem with an unknown time frame. Are we in a recession? Are we not? When will it end? No one seems to know. 

Let’s just say it’s not the easiest time to be in HR.

But despite these challenges, it’s still possible to do more with less during these lean times. Remember: this isn’t a repeat of the last recession.  

Automated tools, including powerful, AI-based people analytics platforms, offer a level of HR efficiency previously impossible. The combination of AI-based tools and a tight labor market makes this recession a different beast than the ‘08 financial crisis — in a good way. 

With infinitely better ways to handle a recession, you can treat this as the counterbalance to the Great Resignation. 

It's an opportunity to wipe the slate clean of redundancies, excess, and inefficiencies, and establish a lean but powerful team of top talent that can create long-term success, the kind that will carry far into the future, way beyond this recession.

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The coming circumstances

The tricky part of this recession is planning around the unknowns: the unknown time frames, the unclear circumstances, and the unquantified and imminent cost cuts. 

Working with all this uncertainty means you need to gather as much tangible information as possible: hence why you’ve been hearing so much about data and people analytics lately. 

People analytics is your stabilizing pillar of cold, hard facts. It pulls together the mountains of HR and people-related business data you have on hand and uses AI to analyze it all, giving you the context you need to make smarter, more informed decisions. 

The kind of insight people analytics provides is going to be instrumental if you want to understand your company’s ever-changing landscape in real time. You’ll need these insights to stay on top of performance issues, manage burnout early, and do more HR management with less HR team. 

HR needs a priority shift during this recession

Prior to the recession, the focus was on retention. Everyone was dealing with the Great Resignation and trying to counterbalance that through cultural improvements like DEI and flexible work options. 

These were important evolutions and will likely stand the test of time. This kind of flexibility and strong base makes companies nimble and able to change HRM strategies, structures, and policies when circumstances call for it. 

And of course, the employee-centric shifts that happened over the past few years will go a long way toward keeping great talent around. 

However, for most (but not all) industries, the recession is going to serve as a neutralizer to the employee’s market, and even the playing field again. It's time to shift focus away from retention and towards performance and burnout management. 

On a smaller team, the impact of each employee's performance will increase, and so will the risk of burnout with a heavier workload. Be savvy with the resources you have, so you can move forward in a sustainable, strategic manner. 

Use these four strategies to do more with less

As we said at the outset, this recession is an opportunity to learn how to do more with less. Starting with these four strategies. 

1. Automate everything you can

Unfortunately, staff reduction doesn't mean workload reduction. The more you cut people, the heavier the load on your remaining workforce will be. This is a massive burnout risk. 

Luckily, the technological capacity for automation has grown exponentially. These days, automation can save thousands of hours each year.

According to a Salesforce study:

  • 74% of IT and engineering leaders reported automation saved up to 30% of time previously spent on manual processes.
  • The majority (59%) of these same teams reported cost reductions of up to 30%. 

But automation is not just for IT and engineering. There are so many efficiency-driving workforce planning tools out there for all industries, company sizes, and teams.

Automation will be particularly important for HR teams facing a massive increase in necessary but arduous paperwork and compliance measures — the last thing you want to lump onto your downsized manpower.

If full automation isn't an option, try self-service or time-saving software and workforce planning tools. Simple things like staff scheduling their own PTO days, editing or updating their employee info, and receiving automated payroll can save you hours. 

Even streamlining expense submissions so people can simply take a picture of the receipt and upload it on an app accumulates into more time and energy savings that can not be spent on higher-level tasks.

2. Give everyone access to core metrics

As the team shrinks, you need HR employees who can do everything from recruitment, to talent management, to benefits administration. This means it's crucial to have competent staff empowered with the metrics they need to work more efficiently. 

But it isn’t realistic to train your HR staff to become data experts. This is where people analytics comes in once again. 

People analytics centralizes all the information you need onto a single platform with easy-to-understand analysis in plain language. Your entire HR and leadership team can glance and see key metrics for performance, pay equity, burnout risk, workload, and more. 

This is crucial because when you're managing a tight unit of people, the room for error practically doesn't exist. You need everyone to be data-literate and capable of making educated decisions, even as circumstances and metrics evolve.

3. Stay on top of performance

Performance is the key — not only keeping your head above water, but thriving in the coming years. Productivity and engagement are the engine that keeps everything going, yet both of these things are at high risk when funding for professional development, bonuses, and other benefits of a healthy economy dry up. 

You need to put in place other measures to keep your employees performing: lightweight ways to monitor performance related to business KPIs that don't involve a heavy layer of reporting. 

People analytics does just this. It employs machine learning to uncover performance issues and suggest the most appropriate data-based strategies to improve without taking a toll on your staff. 

The other important thing to remember about your entire suite of HR software is that many of the tools you use also create a record of your employees' performance over the course of their time with your company. If their performance requires termination, you have documentation to explain their dismissal. 

Terminating employees can have significant consequences — good and bad — for your company. Taking pieces out of play is inevitably going to reshuffle the dynamic. But, if done correctly, it is a tool to help you lift the standard of overall performance by retaining only top performers and creating a culture of excellence. 

4. Don’t lose sight of top performers

Culling all but the top performers sounds good in theory, but measures need to be put in place to mitigate the toll layoffs can take on those who remain. 

After a reduction in force, your top performers will be asked to carry a greater percentage of the workload. Being the top performers that they are, they’ll most likely rise to the challenge. With this comes a greater risk of burnout. 

As your workplace goes through its downsizing and restructuring, the best thing you can do is put into place measures to keep closely in tune with your employees. Stay on top of potential burnout issues, so you can work to mitigate them before they snowball. 

You have the HR data to do this already. It simply requires the right analysis to reveal the insights. With the constant, real-time feedback provided by people analytics, you'll have the pre-warning you need to spot burnout and attrition risks early and keep your top performers in place longer. 

Turn this recession into an opportunity with automated people analytics

You can do so much more with the resources you already have. You don't need new data or more employees. You just need the right tools to analyze your existing data and enable your employees to work more efficiently. 

Regardless of the shrinking economy, cost cuts, and unknown variables, if you have a people analytics platform like Praisidio on your side, your high-stakes decisions will be data-driven and educated. 

You will be operating in the calm eye of the hurricane with the peace of AI-driven insights to back you up.

More than anything, this recession is an excellent opportunity to build stronger foundations, high performing staff, and a sustainable HR strategy. 

Let AI take over the responsibility of workforce planning, performance management, and talent risk management. Book a demo to see what Praisidio can do for you.

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