HR helped speed Australia’s GFC recovery

Australia’s low unemployment rate throughout the GFC is attributable in part to HR’s greater involvement in business strategy and commitment to minimising job losses, says AHRI CEO, Serge Sardo.
HR must learn from GFC
Australia’s fast recovery from the GFC has been “terrific” for business, Sardo said, “but the danger in the economy picking up so quickly is that we feel immune to it. Organisations are going back to doing what they did before the recession and there hasn’t been a lot of change. It’s like ‘we got through it, that’s ok, steady as she goes and let’s keep going’.”

Speaking at a recent AHRI breakfast in Sydney, Sardo suggested that the reason unemployment had stayed low in comparison to other downturns was because “the HR strategies within organisations have had more of an impact in this climate than ever before”.

Both statistically and anecdotally, he said, “we’ve heard some terrific stories of how organisations have really tried to reduce the amount of downsizing that’s gone on. We’ve seen so much more creativity in managing costs than ever before”.

“Certainly we’ve seen so much of that going on that we’re delighted that not only has HR had an impact on the organisation’s success, but the broader economy, which is a remarkable effort. We’re really delighted with these results and the fact that the unemployment rate has stayed so low.”

The regularity of economic downturns compounds the danger, he said. “Disaster happens, and we use the same tools and same methods to get us out of it. It’s almost this temporary fix, and in 10 years’ time we find ourselves back in the same position… [and that] is why we shouldn’t waste this particular recession, and try and learn and do things differently as a result of it.”

Currently, he said, business is in a “neutral zone’ of apprehension, anxiety and uncertainty, but potential and possibilities as well. It’s how you manage this that determines the new beginnings”.

“As HR people, we do need to take responsibility for that transition and make sure that new beginnings are absolutely sustainable। That’s the key buzzword for the next 20 years”.

Do you know of success stories out there that we did not hear about? What is HR doing to make these new beginnings sustainable? Looking forward to you joining the discussion and sharing your thoughts.

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