Warning: long-term side effects of recession may include…

by Jeff Dickey-Chasins for OnlineRecruitingNews.com

As the recession begins to wane, it’s a good time to assess what effects it has had on the relationship between employers and employees. Why? These changes will continue to reverberate over the coming years and affect how recruiting and hiring is conducted, what technologies and approaches are used in finding candidates, and which resources are brought to bear in retaining top talent.

A case of two perceptions

Per this recent report from Human Capital Institute and Monster, 84% of employers feel that their employees are loyal and content to have a job – but only 58% of employees actually feel that way. The end result of this disconnect? Employees may jump ship when the economy gets better. In addition, a majority of employees feel that their employers are exploiting the recession to drive longer hours and lower pay.

Employers and employees also fail to see eye to eye on the workplace itself. In this study, researchers found that 73% of employers thought their work environment had become more positive during the recession, while a quarter of employees said it was more negative, and 35% said that their stress levels had risen.

When the hiring starts

When companies and employees go through a multi-year recession, habits change. For example, many firms have relied on early retirement and unpaid furloughs to keep personnel costs down. Others have simply held off on hiring, thus forcing fewer employees to do more work. Hiring freezes and benefits cuts are also common.

What changes when the hiring resumes, as it inevitably will? Employers may find that some potential hires are gone for good – gone into business for themselves, recruited by a competitor, or migrated to a new industry. In their place, however, will be candidates that are grateful for a job, yet cautious or even cynical about the company that hires them.

Another challenge is operational: how does a company manage the gaps between staffing up and demands for its products or services? How does it retain the trained, experienced staff it has as new people are brought in and work demands increase? Should benefits and incentives be reinstated or upgraded?

Finally, what types of employees should companies bring in? For example, many technology firms migrated a significant portion of their work to contractors. Now their management teams must decide if going back to full time employees makes sense – or not.

How recruiting has changed

So how have employers changed their recruiting efforts after two years of recession? Two words: social media.

Companies that once relied on job boards and recruiters now tap into LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online social networks to reach out to potential employees. While the jury is still out on the long-term effectiveness of these techniques, companies now routinely include social media in their recruiting budget (which are usually much smaller than before the recession).

Job candidates have also become more adept at researching companies via social networks – making the hiring process more complicated for employers. Social networks have made it easier for candidates to learn about the culture and personality of a company before they send in their resume or speak to a recruiter.

The end game

For employers, surviving the recession is only the beginning. They face challenges in managing their existing employees and locating new ones – all while keeping their balance book, well, balanced. For employees, the work world is in some ways less friendly and reliable, but technology in the form of social networks has offered them more information than in the past – and new ways to squeeze additional mileage from personal relationships in the job search.

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