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News Article

Economic Downturns, Migrating Employees Into Flexibility

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 12:56

Panelists at the fifth edition of Mexico Talent Forum, held Wednesday at Hotel Marquis Reforma, addressed strategies for talent management in Mexico’s fluctuating economy and changing workforce. “We should be prepared for recessions as Mexico is always in recession,” joked Gabriel Pizá, Managing Partner at Pizá Abogados, setting a jovial mood for the discussion on “Proper Talent Management During Economic Downturns.”

Economic downturns force businesses to make hard decisions but some sectors can take advantage of slower periods to invest in the future. “The energy sector sees a lot of movement but we see slow periods as opportunities to train our people,” said Guido van der Zwet, General Manager Americas of IPS – Powerful People. In other sectors, a recession might lead to layoffs. In that case, companies must prioritize morale and retention of top talent. “Frequent talent reviews are essential to identify those employees we want to retain during times of crises,” said Claudia Escalante, Head of Human Resources for the US, Mexico and Central America at ROSEN.

Blanca Conesa, Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry, highlighted the need to retain strong leadership during economic downturns. “We surveyed 800 investors and observed that eight out of 10 point to leadership as a reason for choosing companies in which to invest because those are the people who will lead the organization and help it survive economic downturns. We identified five essential characteristics for leaders who can support companies during economic downturns: Anticipate change, Drive results, Accelerate business, Prefer partnership and generate Trust (ADAPT).”

There is, however, no one one-size-fits-all approach to talent retention. María Luisa Rocha, Regional Director of Staffing Operations for Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America at ManpowerGroup, explained that preferences for work benefits can vary among generations, which is significant considering the breakdown of today’s workforce. “Of today’s workforce, 35 percent of all employees are millennials, 35 percent belong to Generation X, 6 percent are baby boomers and the remaining belong to Generation Z,” said Rocha. The benefits employees want also changes by generation. For instance, Rocha suggested millennials want more than a good salary; they also prioritize the development of their careers. “Companies look for long-term employees but modern workers prefer to constantly change companies to advance their careers. This changes the dynamic between employers and employees,” she said.

Van der Zwet expanded on talent retention strategies and pointed to flexible hours, medical insurance and home office as work benefits greatly valued by Mexicans and encouraged others to implement them. Conesa also pointed to providing employees a healthy work-life balance. “Companies increasingly want to provide employees with a work-life balance because this increases engagement. Bosses play an essential role in this by empowering employees and avoiding micromanagement,” said Conesa.

Speakers also addressed concerns regarding outsourcing as a solution to personnel needs during economic crises. Van der Zwet pointed out that “there is good outsourcing and bad outsourcing. Sometimes outsourced employees do not get the same work benefits as regular employees. Outsourcing can be a good solution if done properly.” Rocha agreed, explaining that bad outsourcing companies do not pay appropriately into their employees’ healthcare and pension funds and fail to pay taxes properly. “Bad outsourcing hurts employees and companies. Bad outsourcing companies do not care about their employees and they do not care about the company that hires them,” said Rocha.

The panel ended by highlighting the importance of companies adapting not just to market needs but to the needs of its top employees. As van der Zwet said: “The company that adapts is the company that will survive.”