As a recruitment specialist within the L&D arena, the last two weeks in particular have been a real eye opener for me – and that’s after 17 years (Ouch!) of running Blue Eskimo, a recruitment consultancy in this sector.
Not surprisingly, given our reach, we have been inundated recently with people in depressing and stressful situations, being made redundant, being furloughed or being told that they have to take pay cuts, or work on a part-time basis.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that in these unprecedented and turbulent times that many organisations, including L&D providers and L&D functions have had to make (or will have to make) very difficult and often necessary decisions - but clearly there are a wide variety of ways of doing this, from blatantly wrong, knee-jerk reactions, to taking a step back, pausing for breath and taking into account both the humanitarian and longer term impact of decisions being made.
To put this into context, I’ve enclosed some excerpts below from some of the many confidential discussions that I have had in the last week or two; many of whom have been from people in senior management positions within their organisations who, to be honest, don’t want to work for their employers anymore:
- “The company has lost its moral compass”
- “Loyal employees are being treated like numbers on a spreadsheet”
- “People are being moved around like pawns on a chessboard”
- “It seems like the situation is being used as an opportunity to reduce salary costs”
- “People are showing their true colours - and I don’t like what I see”
- “The Directors treat people like family when times are good and ditch them without a second thought when times get tough”
- “There is panic and a lack of leadership and knee-jerk decisions are being made”
- “There is no consideration for the medium term, when the company will have to spend a small fortune acquiring these skills again”
I don’t wish to sound naïve, or patronising and as previously stated I totally get that many organisations are having to ‘cut their cloth’ accordingly and in many cases very quickly. But when I hear sentiments like those above, from the coalface, I do wonder (perhaps cynically) if in some cases, all of the talk about cultural change, talent attraction via branding, talent development and the like has been forgotten about, or was just about paying lip service in the first place.
It's easy to forget, but compassion for people is as important as the commercial decisions in a crisis. How will you and your company be remembered in a years’ time? There is no point in focusing lots of time and money on building a brand that attracts great talent if you’re going to damage it, potentially beyond repair, over the course of a few days or weeks.
These are choppy waters for everyone but many of the companies that survive and thrive post COVID-19 will be the ones that retained their loyal employees where possible, treated the casualties with dignity and made financial sacrifices themselves where necessary.
If like the people quoted above, you’re disillusioned with your current employer, are a victim of current circumstances or are looking to progress your career in L&D, then please get in touch with us on 01527 579647 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re here to help.