Hiring Drought Continues in 2012: So what does this mean to your business?


Presidential election year or not, it's apparent that the employment picture continues to be very soft entering 2012. U.S. unemployment continues at unacceptably high rates, many larger companies simply aren't hiring or have announced plans to reduce the size of their workforces. "The recovery is slow and volatile. The economy is undergoing significant and lasting changes," says Laura Sejen, global practice leader at Towers Watson & Co.

As your organization moves forward in 2012, it's clear that navigating this business and employment environment presents many of the same challenges they faced heading into 2011. Companies hesitate to begin hiring new employees, though there's the possibility that waiting too long means losing a competitive edge. If and when companies do add staff, it's also likely they will wind up paying more for talent.

The current economic and employment situation is especially obvious on the front lines of manufacturing. Appliance-maker Whirlpool Corp. announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs in late October—about 10 percent of its workforce in North America and Europe—as a result of lower product demand and higher costs for materials. And Proctor & Gamble announced a workforce reduction of 5,700 this month.

Overall, the manufacturing sector accounted for 25 percent of all mass layoff events (involving 50 employees or more) in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In many cases, companies have invested more in equipment and information technology systems than people over the past few years.

So what are some things you can do in your manufacturing, lab or ECP business? Here are three overarching recommendations for your attention and consideration:
  • While there continues to be a War for Talent in the marketplace, the best approach to the employment equation is retaining your talent. That means providing a great work environment, engaging your employees in your business, developing their skills, utilizing their most valued talents, and ensuring they are fairly compensated and have competitive benefits.
  • Gaining the competitive edge in a difficult economy requires being close to your customers and patients. Great customer/patient care is more than words; it’s a way of business retaining and growing your business/practice.
  • Be creative in your expense control. It’s often tempting to cut costs because they appear to be unnecessary or you simply need to cut your cost and create additional economies. Before doing so, however, look at the cost/benefit of each expense and ask yourself if this is a short or long-term cost reduction before taking the plunge.

Hedley Lawson, Contributing Editor
Managing Partner
Aligned Growth Partners, LLC