If you have ever wondered about how organizations and employees have reacted to the current recession and how this compares to responses to the previous recession, then Reed has the answers you are looking for. In fact, Reed has taken it one step further to include information about what we can look to predict in terms of the new challenges and opportunities people challenge, from these reactions.
Reed have undertaken a comprehensive study which benchmarks a new survey of over 600 organisations – representing all sectors, sizes and locations – against research completed in Spring 1992, in the depths of the last UK recession.
The results are fascinating. They reveal that a sea-change has taken place. Yes, employers across the country are making recession-fuelled redundancies, but today this is only one part of their response. Organisations from Corus to KPMG are dramatically flexing worker terms and conditions, including benefits, hours and pay, thereby reducing costs while retainingstaff.
In 1992 a culture of partnership between workers and bosses was the exception. Now, a spirit of informed co-operation is widespread and this has enabled a far more flexible response to this downturn. This bodes well for a swift resurgence when the upturn comes.
The study reveals just how much this recession has strengthened the role of HR professionals, accelerating their move to the strategic centre of organisations as they implement and lead their employers’ responses to the downturn. Yet in spite of this, a key finding of this research is the prediction that skills shortages will be an even greater threat to recovery this time than in the aftermath of 1992.
Employers tell us that as soon as the upturn comes they will recruit to replace the staff that they have cut. This applies to all roles, across all levels. However, skilled staff are the only category where things are noticeably different. Organisations plan to recruit considerably more skilled staff once recovery begins than they have cut in the downturn.
This suggests that the UK’s recovery faces a very real threat from growing skills shortages. The problem will become even more acute as post-recession Britain moves further towards becoming a high-skill economy.
This issue demands attention from both business and government, as it will not resolve itself. A key national priority must be to re-tool and re-skill the workforce, to keep Britain working.