For the most of us, the end of the year signifies an opportunity to think, reflect, and remember the life lessons, events, and topics that demanded our attention over the last 12 months. And professionals within the Human Resource and Recruiting industry are no exception. I think that I can speak for everyone that 2009 was a year many businesses, job seekers, and people in general would like to forget. In short, 2009 pretty much sucked. I'd like to think we are better for it. I'm certainly a believer in that saying that good things don't come easy and 2009 was more than a pain in my ass.

  • Economy. Times have been tough. The banking crisis, AIG, rising unemployment, and declining consumer spending and confidence come to mind for 2009. Unemployment stands at 10.2% as of October for the general population according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. RealtyTrac reports that in 2009, 1 out of every 385 homeowners nationwide received notice of foreclosure.
  • Social Media. Social Media has been the one bright spot in 2009 for most businesses as a way to network and grow your business with little to no overhead. The rise in its popularity has also brought increased attention to companies who are fearful of these tools because of the potential legal and lost productivity ramifications. For myself, social media has been a great community in which to grow, learn, and network both personally and professionally.
  • Empowerment. This one is a biggie. Stories abound in the media of businesses who have made the best of bad situations and overcome obstacles. Consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have found creative ways to adapt in 2009. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have used the slowing economy as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors while providing a high level of service in a new and creative way. Companies who leverage and build partnerships with these creative small businesses and entrepreneurs in 2010 will bounce back more quickly as these business influencers have a handle on the current and creative pulse of what works and what doesn't.
  • Employment Branding. As we begin to see the signs of an economic recovery in the future, companies have begun to start planning for the upcoming talent churn. Engaging your current employees through multiple communication channels while also listening are extremely important in building your internal brand. Your external image and brand and how you engage the external audience (i.e. potential candidates) are emerging topics that surfaced in mid 2009 and will continue into 2010. Companies must market to current and future employees through multiple channels outside of traditional recruiting channels including job boards and newspapers.
  • Healthcare. Average annual healthcare costs have rose according to SHRM 5.4% from 2007 to 2008. How will the proposed healthcare reform changes would, can, and will impact your company’s health insurance offerings? Most HR professionals can certainly relate to cost concerns surrounding their 2010 healthcare plans from company and employee POVs as most companies recently completed annual re-enrollment for 2010 and many opted for high deductibles, new co-pay options, or eliminating certain paid benefits altogether.
  • Swine Flu Strategy Preparedness. While this was a huge concern in the latter part of 2009, the methods that HR teams put in place allowed for better communication and education plans within organizations in addition to disaster preparedness and H1N1 awareness. Discussions surround H1N1 led to executives being more open to flexible scheduling options including ROWE and virtual office work environment.
  • Compliance & Government. 2009 brought us new I-9 requirements for government contractors who scrambled to comply while government bills including the Employee Free Choice Act kept us more than busy lending to union avoidance planning and training. I spent more than my share of conference calls during the last year educating companies on the potential ramification if the bill would have passed. Having working in both union and non-union environments, I cam thankful that it did not.
  • Legal Roundup including ADA, FMLA. I attended one too many legal summits, conference calls, and seminars regarding the changes to the definition of "disability" by the EEOC. Things like bending, reading, communicating, and bodily functions were added to the definition of major added as major work life activities. Yes, IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome could now be considered covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. While in January of this year, the Family Medical Leave Act to include greater definition surrounding the care of military families whose active family member has been activated or to care for a member of the Armed Forces who is undergoing treatment.
  • Management/Leadership--multiple reorganizations within organizations have exposed fatal flaws within the management ranks. With little or no budget HR professionals have been tasked with training and developing their teams. Employees and their managers are being forced to do more with less--more work, more responsibilities, more pressure, and less resources to achieve company goals and directives.
  • HR & ROI. In 2009, most organizations and companies experienced some sort of downsizing or reorganization. Executive teams slashed budgets and outsourced, reorganized, and restructured teams, departments and companies on multiple occasions. Because Human Resource and Recruiting teams are not considered income generating departments, HR leaders worked hard to prove their value to the bottom line. By forcing us to prove our worth, we gained much needed credibility and earned a certain level of respect among our income generating peers leading to what I believe will propel our industry forward in the coming months and years.
Thoughts? Additions to the list. I would appreciate your comments by leaving them below. A special thanks to Mark Stelzner and Inflexion Advisors for the unemployment and foreclosure figures.
Photo Credit to Bigger Pockets.

Views: 112

Comment by Karla Porter on December 22, 2009 at 6:42pm
For as much as I truly empathize with those who had difficulty during the year, I am very grateful to 2009 for the best employment opportunity I ever could had hoped for. It has enabled me to help others in a greater capacity and enriched my life with many meaningful new relationships.
Comment by Vishwadeepak Singh on December 23, 2009 at 1:48am
Same here. The experience & emotion penned down by Ms. Karla Porter is also my own.
Comment by Jessica Miller-Merrell on December 23, 2009 at 1:58pm
@Karla & @Vishwadeepak Agree with both of you. It has been a rough year but out of adversity brings possibility and opportunity which is exactly why I left the corporate world and struck out on my own. Happy Holidays and best wishes to you in 2010!

Comment by Ambrish Kochikar on December 23, 2009 at 2:44pm
thanks for the post, Jessica. you do a great job circling the major themes for 2009. it's hard not to spare a thought for the millions whose lives and careers faced harsh new realities and displacements. hopefully dealing with adversity gives us a chance to put things in perspective for the remainder of our lives. i know it did that for me. it started with me getting back from a vacation in india, getting laid off the next day, getting nowhere with a job search for the next several months, then getting hired in a temp role for a few weeks. i decided i had to stop waiting for the perfect circumstances and proposed to my girlfriend. we've been married 3 months and i'm a couple of months into a new job that i love! happy holidays and may we all have a fantastic 2010!


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