The global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008, the very thought of it brings back that sense of fear and uncertainty to many businesses and employees. Businesses of all sizes raced out to drastically slash costs wherever they could find them; the work Christmas party was a popular choice of "unnecessary" expenses first to go. This was one of many of the things I struggled to get my head around, the flurry of panic-stricken activity and short-term decisions I witnessed people making before really considering the relational impact that may consequently bring for themselves and their businesses.
There’s no doubt that the problems were serious back then, and that we still do live in challenging times, but if you knew then what you know now would you’re decisions have been quite different?
In the midst of downsizing it is dangerous to view the continued development and support of your people as a cost. Failing to continue investing in your teams, their relationships both with internal and external stakeholders, as well as processes could potentially jeopardise your businesses own survival. Your staff members are your long-term competitive advantage – especially true during tough economic times. Low morale leads to job dissatisfaction and poor productivity. To ultimately give you and your business the best chance of success during an economic downturn you need well-connected staff that can think on their feet and spot opportunities.
Investing in anything during this period may seem counter-intuitive, but now is an excellent time to be investing a little time and money into your people. Continuing to plan for the future and proving to your employees that they are an integral part of the business goes a very long way towards maintaining confidence. And the good news is that it doesn’t have to be a ridiculously expensive exercise.
The staff Christmas party is a good example of this, particularly if it has always been a highlight on their calendars in the past. You must weigh up the negatives of the costs involved versus the calming and stabilising influence that such recognition in the form of a party can bring. Why not use it also as an opportunity for some valuable networking? It’s important to understand that it doesn’t need to be about glitz and glamour, the focus needs to be around celebrating the year that was and recognising peoples contributions. There’s no better or more valuable way of saying thank you to your staff for their hard work during turbulent times. There are loads of budget options available, which still incorporate all the classic elements of fun. One of the most successful Christmas parties I ever attended was a bare-foot bowls day at a local club!
With the planning of Q3 and Q4 events starting now - I hope this message is a timely reminder:) Ultimately it’s important to consider how short-term decisions affect long-term relationships. It’s during tough economic conditions that human capital is your best investment, so don’t make the mistake of making a decision without first asking yourself…what is the real relational impact of cutting that cost? Will it truly help or hinder the businesses bottom-line?
As always get in touch, if I can help you further.