The current state of the global economy has left many feeling uncertain and uneasy. Interest rates are up, unemployment is down, and supply chains are in disarray. For knowledge workers, these are uncertain times, as layoffs seem to be contagious across the industry. Workforce disruptions have had a profound impact on businesses and their employees, especially in service-based companies where human resources are vital.
A recent survey conducted by FinancialForce looking into resilient services businesses revealed that almost 40% of American workers have been affected by workforce disruptions, either through layoffs or by being uncomfortably close to them. Although half of the respondents (53%) accepted this as a reality of tricky economic times, 31% either blamed leadership or believed that leaders did not have the necessary information to justify such drastic actions.
The profound and subtle impacts
The effects of workforce disruptions are both significant and subtle. Of those still employed, over 46% admitted to keeping their heads down and trying not to be noticed in the next round of layoffs, resulting in an active suppression of creativity and dedication. When employees are worried about losing their jobs, they tend to focus on just getting through the day rather than going above and beyond to innovate and produce exceptional work. This ultimately impacts a company's overall effectiveness, flexibility, and innovation, as well as its ability to remain competitive in the market. Furthermore, when top resources are disengaged and lack confidence in their company's future, they may be more likely to seek employment elsewhere, leaving the company with a loss of talent and knowledge.
Avoiding the workforce disruptions that cause this malaise, as well as attracting those 60% of workers who are reluctant to work at such companies, will take work. There are three critical things that can help businesses to come out ahead.
Trusted system of record
Having the right systems and data to make solid forecasts and track progress is crucial. Over 41% of survey respondents identified stability as the most valued element of their job, which is nearly impossible to deliver on cobbled-together, disconnected, home-grown solutions. Delivering a trusted, inter-departmental, accessible system of record that keeps everyone on the same page is the key to providing a foundation that keeps leaders pointed in the right direction, and the workforce committed.
Leadership is crucial in guiding a company through these uncertain times. Overwhelmingly, 65% of survey respondents stated that they focus on leadership when assessing their current and potential employers. Providing clear direction backed up by accurate measurement and data-driven course corrections is vital to sustain credibility over the long term. This will not be the year where the top services businesses are muddling through on mammoth spreadsheets someone built a decade ago!
Accessible systems are key. In the US, 'satisfying work' ranked third as the most critical job characteristic, while globally it ranked second. This means that key workers across the organization need to be able to benefit from connected systems that output actionable intelligence and help them identify opportunities for their own growth. Consolidating the ever-multiplying cloud applications to as few as possible will speed up adoption, expose growth paths, and increase value for top resources, which will build their confidence in their work and deepen their certainty that they are in the right place.
Delivering certainty not only strengthens business plans but creates the environment necessary to retain and attract top human resources, who are keen to work with great leaders. Building connected systems that surface and deliver actionable intelligence across the organization can provide this sort of certainty, and differentiate winners from the also-rans in the midst of an economic storm.