© Ravi Wazir, 2020

Restaffing during a Recession

Recession for one is opportunity for another. With the jitters still around, now is the best time to get the good staff you have always wanted and revamp the team.

Our industry is plagued with the challenge of finding and keeping good talent. We lost a lot of good people to the retail and call-centre sectors during their respective booms. The present scenario however is that these industries are in a greater crisis than we are in hospitality. As a result, today we have a far better talent pool than we have had in a very long time, in terms of both quantity and quality. Quantity because there are many more people chasing a lot fewer jobs and quality because competence is not the only criteria for hiring or firing anymore.

The availability of such resources today is an opportunity for this sector to recognise and optimise. If an unscrupulous employer takes advantage of a potential employee’s existing unemployed status or poor financial condition to negotiate a very low compensation package, then he can hardly expect loyalty in return.

The right approach to use when reviewing the present staffing position must be based on logic with a smattering of emotion.

Fundamentally, staffing is based on skill sets required to execute a business vision. Thus if the business is adapted to the new market place, management’s full support is essential. The new ideal staff level can then be matched with the actual existing level, in terms of both quantity and quality. This takes care of the business logic.

As we all know, the greater challenge is in the emotional part of the decision. If the decision to retain employees is nepotistic or purely emotional, we would be doing the business a disservice and the impact on it will eventually be disastrous.

If on the other hand, the decision is to let some employees go, it must be handled sensitively. A business leader who fires an employee today on the premise that he has hardly ever been productive, is in fact trying to cover his own mistakes and complacency in accepting that under-productivity till then. This is the worst kind of leader because he does not take responsibility for his own actions and in fact feeds off the business at someone else’s expense.

Having to let go of talent that is competent, dedicated and deserving only because the business cannot afford them financially, is indeed an unfortunate reality of the market.

Employees usually know what is happening within their organisation, sometimes through informal channels. They realise that most often the matter is out of their control and that they had best stay appreciative of the fact that they themselves are still employed. If you see a likely impact on your business, sharing its possible repercussions on them as individuals will prepare them both humanely and professionally.

From the human resource viewpoint, we in the sector have moved from the previous challenge of finding and keeping staff to the present one of choosing between who to keep and who to let go.

In such uncertain times, our basic human need as vulnerable individuals for belonging to a part of the whole reigns prime. Our endeavours to reach out to multiple people through diverse formal or informal networks stands testimony to our need to stay connected, to include every person who can contribute to the goal.

As in football and now even in cricket, only on a much larger scale, we need to huddle!