How Bad Is It vs. How Could We Make It Worse

It struck me recently that in over 30 years of consulting this is the first recession where  I have had to cope with Cable TV!  I am no longer sure that the constant flow of bad news is creating a self fulfilling prophecy.   Last week I began counting the “sighs” from those on one News network.  Fortunately at over 50 I had to leave for an appointment.   If I had sat in front of the news all day I would have needed a prescription. 


There is no question that we are experiencing difficult times.  All of us have seen our retirement savings plummet, some of us are now underemployed and many are unemployed and worried about theirs and their family’s future.Coincidentally I and 2 of my fellow bloggers were all displaced in the fall of last year so the turbulence for us is real.  At the risk of sounding naïve however, and without ignoring the 12 year lows of the market, I remain optimistic about the Labor Market.  As a global community we were heading for a severe shortage of workers due to expanding demand, shifting demographics, and job aspirations of the “new” labor force.


Candidly unless your enterprise was experiencing the pain, we were pretty clueless about the above.  The unintended consequence of the recession to me is it provides a unique opportunity for us to reflect on how we should be thinking about the future workforce.   I would submit that we can no longer disregard the resource constraints and attitudinal differentials that will face us when this recession inevitably ends.   Moreover the one size fits all of how we treat our workers has been for quite some time dysfunctional.


The fear that I have is that an already disenfranchised level of Employee Engagement will deteriorate even further during this difficult time.  During the recessions of the 80’s and early 90’s the unemployment rate exceeded the prediction we have presently for this global crisis.   This is due to the demographic shifts.  If we sustain a posture as managers of “you should be glad to have a job” as we did previously, when this recession ends we are in for a very rough ride.


The ability to instantaneously share information and a point of view should never be abused.   However in light of this capability, whether it  be the displacement of 1, 100, 1,000, 10,000 or more….we had better treat people who are leaving and staying with respect and support.   The world is much smaller since the advent of Cable News.   We should act accordingly not because of trepidation of criticism: but for respect of our colleagues both current and former, as we are all are navigating very turbulent waters.


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