Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

How will you develop and discard people at the same time?

A recent PwC survey of over 700 US executives found that over half said they were reducing headcount or plan to. 52% had implemented hiring freezes and 40% were rescinding job offers and incentives to join that had developed during the tight job market

At the same time 2/3 of companies are boosting pay, adding benefits and in particular expanding access to permanent remote and/or hybrid working.

We are moving into a complicated employment period. Scarce skills are in demand, employment rates are high in many countries, and the people who have the skills want more flexibility and personal development. Digitisation and a tough economic climate will mean that many of these same organisations will be cutting jobs in other areas at the same time.

Some of our clients have observed to us that the rate of people leaving hasn’t really increased, but they’ve noticed that it’s the better-quality people who seem to be moving. As tough times hit, your best people tend to still have options. Your lower potential or performing people tend to stay put.

Maybe this is partly what’s behind the current coverage of the idea of “quiet quitting” – doing exactly what the job requires, no more no less. It’s long been recognised in HR that it is not the people who quit and leave that you need to worry about, but the people who quit and stay.

For the record, quiet quitting is a great way of getting your name on the list of people likely to be downsized if that is your objective.

We have been involved in a lot of restructuring through our work on matrix management and introducing other new ways of working. It is common for development, training, and other forms of investment in people to be put on hold when downsizing is happening elsewhere in the organisation.

Some organizations feel that it is undiplomatic to be investing in some people while at the same time making their colleagues redundant, and admittedly this is a tough call. However, with the complex job market we have now, if we fail to invest in our best people they may not wait around until we are done.

This is particularly true in offering more work flexibility and the skills to thrive in that virtual or hybrid environment. These are no longer optional; hybrid has happened and if we don’t keep up to date good people will move to somewhere else that offers that flexibility.

Given that hybrid and virtual are the working reality now, we must give people the skills to thrive in that environment, or we will lose people, productivity, and engagement.

The move to more digital processes is likely to accelerate this trend over an extended period. We can’t wait around for the end of that change process before we develop skills and recognise shortages in specific areas.

How will your organisation achieve the balance between investing in some people and cutting back in other areas at the same time?

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