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Workforce Institute HR Preparedness Report

High impact levers to drive productivity and resilience amid a pending recession

Updated on November 8, 2022

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Topics Covered:

Future of work

Rewards and recognition

According to new research from Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI), 77% of HR leaders are concerned about a pending recession, but just 26% of respondents say their organisation is prepared to managed unexpected challenges.

As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems HR leaders can barely take a breath before being faced with a new challenge – a likely recession. This comes on top of unprecedented turnover and the “quiet quitting” trend.

How can HR prepare for a possible recession?

AWI research identifies two key focuses for HR leaders who want to recession-proof their organisation: resilience and productivity.

Resilience is the ability to manage unexpected challenges and it is important at both the individual and the organisational level. While individual resilience is important, many resilient individuals do not necessarily make for a resilient organisation. HR needs to foster both types of resilience to ensure their people and company are prepared for the coming challenges.

In addition, more organisations are going to be operating with lean teams as the recession progresses. This makes improving productivity a crucial goal for HR leaders. Unfortunately, productivity is a notoriously sticky subject. It is difficult to measure and therefore hard to track improvements following new initiatives.

Resilience: armor against the recession

Individual and organisational resilience is key to navigating challenging times.

What drives individual resilience?

  • Friendships at work
  • Being recognised and appreciated
  • Feeling heard and valued
  • Having a supportive manager

In addition, organisations that are able to align action to culture will find the path forward smoother than those who fail to connect their values to their decision-making process.

For organisations that want to drive individual and organisational resilience, this AWI report outlines next steps for all five of these resilience drivers: recognition, feedback, connection, manager effectiveness, and culture alignment.

What are HR’s priorities for 2023?

AWI asked almost 1400 HR leaders how they were preparing for a possible recession and productivity, attraction, and retention remain top of mind.

How are you preparing for a pending recession?

  • Initiatives to improve productivity (33%)
  • Focus on high priority hires (32%)
  • Initiatives to improve retention (32%)
  • Scaling back growth plans (31%)
  • Hiring freeze (24%)
  • Salary freeze (19%)
  • We are not preparing for a possible recession (15%)
  • Planning for layoffs (12%)

*Source: Achievers Workforce Institute HR Preparedness Report

How can you measure and impact productivity at work?

Despite the difficult nature of defining, measuring, and affecting productivity at work, it remains a key focus for HR, especially as they prepare for a likely recession. AWI asked respondents to rate their own productivity. About a quarter (26%) said they were their most productive selves at work. What moved the needle on this metric?

  • Recognition
    Recognition frequency correlates strongly with high productivity — the more often someone is recognised the more likely they are to report being highly productive.
  • Feedback
    Employees who say their organisation takes meaningful action on feedback are almost three times more likely to say they are their most productive selves at work.
  • Connection
    Employees who say their company supports them in creating and maintaining friendships at work are 2.6 times more likely to report being their most productive selves at work.
  • Manager effectiveness
    People who would recommend their managers are 2.1 times more likely to report being highly productive.

Read more:

HR leaders: 3 steps to recession-proof your teams
CHROs: Learn 4 ways to boost productivity today
VP of Total Rewards: The top outcomes of a robust recognition program

Read the report today


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