Human resources

HR priorities shift towards engagement

The economic downturn has forced HR to change its priorities, with organisational performance and employee engagement now at the top of the list, according to new research.
A survey by employee engagement specialists TalentDrain found that a third (30 per cent) of HR departments have changed their strategy as a result of the economic downturn. Over half (56 per cent) are putting less focus on recruitment and almost three-quarters (72 per cent) have increased their emphasis on organisational performance.
The change of focus was often linked to reduced budgets, with 38 per cent of the 336 HR departments surveyed having cut their budget by more than 5 per cent. Some 13 per cent had reduced their workforce budget by more than 25 per cent.
Ron Eldridge, director of TalentDrain and author of the report, said: “The new strategic focus, even for organisations that have not cut their HR budgets, seems to be around identifying, engaging and retaining those employees who are high performers, while more proactively managing any areas of underperformance.”
Another recent survey highlighted the need for HR to refocus on employee engagement in the downturn. According to the 2009 Best Companies to Work For survey only 37 per cent of employees in three-star accredited companies – the top award for engagement – are worried about the impact of the current economic climate on their organisation’s future. The proportion grows to two-thirds of staff in companies that did not achieve the accreditation and over half in firms with one star.
Jonathan Austin, chief executive of Best Companies, said: “Those employees who feel involved and committed to their organisation feel more confident about their organisation’s future in these uncertain times – putting their companies in the best position to survive the recession.”
Of the 795 organisations that applied for Best Companies accreditation this year, 639 made the grade. Three-star status was given to 55 firms – including Nando’s, Pannone LLP and Office Angels.
Lucy Phillips
Publication date: 27 January 2009