This is turbulent times.

Watching one's colleagues shown the door all on a sudden on Friday evenings, after their access cards are taken away, could be unsettling to both those leaving and to those left behind.

Such decisions to lay off are decisions, generally, first moved by the Finance Departments.

As a responsible response to recession, with or without lay offs, those in HR need to proactively work for increasing the productivity of their staff during these times.

When organizations finally pull themselves out of recession, those that have more capable staff will most certainly be the first to make it.

Hence, even if you may not see the need to increase productive capabilities of your staff during a slow down of sales, going ahead and building up capability helps to pull the organization out of recession. And the time to do that is NOW.


For long, we have used the metaphor of a pyramid to describe the structure of organizations. Today's business environment does not support pyramidal structures any more.

Management gurus like Peter Senge suggest a much flatter design for 21st Century Organization: Flat like a "level playing field".

While playing a match, each player takes up responsibility to make his/her decision, instantly, without waiting for orders. Similarly, to succeed in the market, those workers/staff 'in the field' need to be trained to act with what the Fifth Discipline calls, a sense of "Personal Mastery".

Training those in the lowest rung of hierarchy to behave in a masterly fashion is an entirely new way to train, and it is much different from the traditional way of training them to obey orders.

Even if you had them trained earlier in personality development, you may do well to go beyond that, leading them towards Personal Mastery.

Personal Mastery implies the modern employee will have his/her personal development goals in place and pursue them seriously, and the Company will 'marry' the vision of the employee with that of the Company!

Taking this clue, HR could see how this recession could be utilized as an opportunity to educate and transformation your field players. An enlightened set of players with a purpose in life will do better than ignorant ones in pulling the company out of recession.


We use stories and parables to make sense of this complex world. If we can think of recession as a dry spell that a farmer faces, we may gain some insight into what needs to be done, by observing the farmer.

When water becomes scarce, he applies it in drops to the roots. He knows that if he takes care to preserve the moisture at the roots, the tree will look after itself.

Thus, if recession forces your production plants to be down for a few days a week or month, the HR department could use the time to nurture their workers.


Perhaps the best way to let your employees understand that you do care for them is to help them to face the recession:

Train them to:
  1. Generate income at home,
  2. Cut down on expenses,
  3. Prepare for better opportunities
  4. Spend time usefully.
1. Generate income at home:

You may want to train your employees to beat depression by engaging themselves in hobbies that have huge income generating potentials! Teach them to upgrade their hobbies like rearing ornamental fish, cooking and eating, rearing plants/cacti or pets to profitable businesses... Check the links below:
  • Nabard Bank has a wonderful site on scaling up your ornamental fish breeding hobby into an entrepreneurial venture... the staff who have an empty terrace or an open backyard at home might go for it: NABARD's Model Bankable Projects <link updated to site home>
2. Cut down on expenses:

A short course on health care - particularly on how to avoid infections, home remedies, physical exercise etc - could help employees to achieve better health, improve their immune system, and reduce medical bills, and sick leaves.

What better way could be there to inform your constituencies that the company cares, than your care for their and their families' health?

3. Prepare for better opportunities:

As much as continuous learning is essential for the survival of Companies in a fast changing world, the staff too need to keep learning. After all, Learning Organizations can't be created by people who don't learn?

Open the doors of the world to your employees: Just spend a day surfing the Internet with your employees to inform them on what is meant by information revolution: show them the open coursewares of over 1800 courses taught in MIT, the Yahoo/Google/Microsoft Maps of the world; the world of emails; YouTube on Safety at Work Place...Online reservation of tickets, Online operation of personal bank accounts...communicating via chats/audio/video...

Teach them how to learn languages... new skills...like data entry...car driving...

As you enlarge the minds of your employees, their world becomes broader, and that helps them to appreciate the meaning of international competition, and the need to increase quality of products/services.

4. Spend Time Usefully:

People are under stress, fearing or suffering loss of employment. Even those you fire could be given the assistance to cope with life after the pink slip. When you see how people choose tragic ends to their lives, you will certainly appreciate the need to prepare people to be flexible in life.

Not knowing how to spend the busy days otherwise spent in the factory or office could spell disaster. Idling, while feeling depressed, drags one into habits that will harm self, family and the organization.

An introduction to yoga or entrepreneurship could help redesign life during crisis, and help one to transform it into a great opportunity to create something new.


In one sense, all business arise as solution to some problems faced by people: of hunger (hotels), disease (hospitals), travels (airways, railways, bus, taxi,...) etc.

What is needed is an ability to imagine or dream, an enterprising mindset, and the will to succeed.

And, to impart that wisdom to your people, this may be the opportune time.

A wise farmer once told me, if you planted a tree during dry summer days, you will take care of it, knowing it will die without your help. By the time you get tired of watering, the rainy season will set in. But, if you plant during rainy season, you may have forgotten the tree by the time summer sets in.

If this is summer, then, it is HR Department's time to take care of the company's roots.

Training Manager

From India, Bangalore

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Hi everyone ,My name is raksha sangani.I m doing my mba [hr].I have a topic called "How to run buisness effectively during a downtime"? Explain with the help of case study.if anyone is having a material on the same plz forward to
From India, Mumbai

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