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Tips for an Effective Human Resource Management Action Plan
By Thanaseelan Vengadasalam

What are some tips for having an effective human resource management plan? First of all, it has to address the facts that business fortunes rise and fall periodically, employees and talent needs change and evolve, workforces age and retire in perhaps unplanned ways that do not match business needs. Also the market value of talent changes over time, sometimes becoming more valuable or less valuable.

Business focus:

Be a best business place to work, not just a best place to work. Create a human resource management strategy to live with throughout the business cycle. Test some alternative solutions assuming growth and shrinkage of the number of customers and their profitability. Reward people who have helped the organisation to succeed.

Emphasize key skills:

Mentor staff with the crucial business skills so that they grow and learn. While everyone is important, some people have skills which a business needs than do others. This means investing in the talent that is closest to the business’ core competencies – capabilities which are vital in making the business a winning one. Inform everyone what the talent priorities are and build a reward solution that fits. Invest on the area where most of business value comes from – people with expertise that add most to the business.


Educate employees about the rules of staffing growth and reduction early in their career. During the staffing build up over the last 5 years, companies implied that jobs were more secure than they really are. Thus, when the business tide turned, workforces recalled these implied promises and interpreted them as job guarantees. It is extremely important to have people understand the actual deal the company can provide. Be clear that staffing levels would change. However, also make employees comprehend what they can do to improve their value to make it less likely that they will be picked for lay offs and salary reductions.

Measure performance:

Build an accepted and valid way to judge performance before it is needed. It is important to have a credible and reliable performance management system in place when times are going well. In good times, it is easy to protect inadequate performers when staffing levels are high, but not when cutting is necessary. The best way to foster distrust, to say nothing about litigation, is to adopt a makeshift ranking system just before it is needed to reduce staff and try to use it to decide who goes and who remains.

Humanity counts:

Cut the workforce quickly and humanely. Spreading the pain around does not make much business sense. When there is a need to reduce staff, reduce it. Build a reputation for keeping people close to the meat of the business even when cutting is inevitable.

Get it over with:

Cut enough so that when it is over, it is really over. Do some staff planning and stick with it. Companies cannot continue to regain the trust of the workforce if they do not make the needed cuts and commence to regain business momentum. While it is very hard to predict the next possible economic fortunes of the business, the staff cutting must stop when management promises that it will.

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