Get Creative - Cutting Costs in HR
I was asked recently to participate on a panel on cutting costs in HR. Now that sounds exciting, doesn’t it? How many years has it been now that most organizations have been struggling to eke out another year with fewer people, shrinking budgets and the perennial request to “get creative?” I saw it over my nearly 20 years in the learning and development space. Do any of you remember when companies offered five day training programs for anyone who wanted to attend them? I do. First the ask was to do them in three days instead of five (which strikes me as hilarious now that the same content is being asked for in less than an hour). Once the trend toward shortening took hold, next was the online learning craze. Why have people travel when they can learn at their desks? No travel expense, no free lunches provided on training day, and virtually no time away from the job. And of course, after 9/11, the days of the corporate university were changed forever. No longer was training offered up as freely as a perk. Programs that had been offered for years because of their popularity were questioned. If it didn’t tie directly to the business needs, a new initiative, or core focus, it was gone or moved to a modular, self-service offering. Then came the move to focus learning investment disproportionately across a population – only high potential employees have full access to learning and we might even spend more on them than before, while the “masses” get minimal, and some get none. With each of these changes, stalwarts felt that learning was compromised; that these moves signaled the demise of an era, that it was all a big mistake. Yet, some of the best new ideas came out of each of these moves. When forced to cut time out of a session, you have to look long and hard at how every single minute is spent. When you can’t fix the learning problem with big training $$, you provide people with ways to learn on the job, and guess what, sometimes, it actually works BETTER.
This is just an example, but the fact is, most in HR have been given tremendous opportunities to strengthen their “cost savings muscles” over the years. Yet, it must clearly be a topic that still concerns us. What could I have to say that would help people carry on their cost savings path for just bit longer? I realized a lot of what I have to say has been fueled both from the perspective of my past experience, and from that of my current work in leading Pinstripe’s RPO business. Recruitment Process Outsourcing is booming right now and we’re booming along with it. How can it not? During our last economic crisis, most organizations I know cut their HR staff and budget yet again. And if you’re not hiring, who are you going to let go first? Your recruiters. Now, with a bare bones staff and a function and process that has largely been put on the sideline for a while, things are starting to move. Demand is picking up for some, pent up for others, expected soon for the rest. As there are two choices – build your internal staff back up again, or use this time to revisit the entire model. RPO is growing because not only do we help businesses deliver a variable cost model and cost savings to our clients, but because we actually tend to make things better at the same time. Many studies, including one by Aberdeen in November, 2011 show that quality of hire goes up, time to fill goes down, and candidate and manager satisfaction improves when recruitment is outsourced. You CAN save money and get better results at the same time. We have been wired to think that these two things are mutually exclusive. That saving money means we are sacrificing something, that we are doing without, or that we are scrimping. But true innovation often is born of unreasonable constraints. The most creative ideas come when we DON’T have a blank sheet of paper, but when we are forced to do things without the easy crutches we might be used to. “Get creative” sometimes has a negative connotation when used in the same breath as cost savings, but it shouldn’t. Getting creative pushes us to prove that you can improve things while cutting costs. You don’t have to compromise. Demand both, demand it all. Faster, Better, and Cheaper. What’s your best example of refusing to compromise on this?
Post contributed by Angela Hills. Follow me on Twitter @angelahills