During the last year or more, thousands of organizations have responded to the economic downturn by slashing budgets and jettisoning employees. Most leaders viewed these reactions as necessary for survival. Those whose organizations did survive and now see the recovery in sight have to face the long-term consequences of their short-term "fixes." Those consequences, ironically, have to do with organizational prospects for long-term survival and success.

There is no doubt that the last year has been tough on workforces everywhere. In addition to people who lost their jobs or a significant part of their income through furloughs, the "surviving" employees have had a difficult time as well. Not only do they have to contend with heavier workloads and the possibility that they could be next, but often they feel guilty because they still have jobs while their co-workers don't.

Yet to be tested is what effect these actions will have on employee retention. That is, when the economy turns around and people have alternatives to their current jobs, will they stay with you or will they move on? A few surveys have indicated that over 50% of current employees plan to jump ship as soon as another one is close enough to board. And when people have alternatives, employers have to work harder to keep their best employees.

If you wait until those other ships are in sight, it will be too late: not only will you lose good employees, but you will be competing with countless other organizations for qualified replacements. Begin NOW to build or fortify a solid foundation of support so that you are able to retain your workers in the months ahead, and attract others as you begin to grow.

What are you doing to make sure your organization passes the recovery "test?"

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.

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