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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Consultants Learn to Weather Bad Economic Times

“In recent weeks, several of my long-term subcontractors have contacted me to learn of any new contract work that’s available for them to do,” says Regan of APPSYS.

“Quite simply, they need work and don’t have any”. “They’re considering returning to full-time job employment because their business is nonexistent right now,”

“I think a lot of sole practitioners are hurting in this economy,”
The declining economy is certain to impact the livelihoods of HR consultants. But, will that impact be good or bad? On the one hand, companies might be looking to outsource activities to control internal staffing costs. On the other hand, they might be cutting back on expenses.

While employers are cutting back and closely monitoring operations, there is a strong trend toward companies investing in programs that assist in hiring/retention efforts.
Many are turning to experts who can provide counsel and assistance in hiring, on boarding and retention to help ensure that new hires will be capable, dedicated employees.

Roberta Chinksy Matuson, an HR consultant in the Boston area, agrees. “In any economy there are opportunities,” she says. In the past three months she notes that she has had more phone calls for business than over the entire year. “I see this as an opportunity to really propel my organization forward, while others are pulling back,” she says.

Kevin Nussbaum, SPHR, is president of CBIZ Human Capital Services. “We’ve been doing well this year, but I would say our product mix has changed and our focus has changed,” he says.

“Downtimes for business do not correlate to downtimes for HR consultants,” says Jonathan Kroner, J.D., MBA, a Miami-based attorney that works with HR professionals to help avoid litigation. “Opportunities arise to plan and administer layoffs, buyouts, staff reductions, benefit modifications—these all involve HR functions,” he notes.

Individual HR consultants will have different experiences, agrees Regan. “It depends upon what the HR consultant’s area of expertise is. If it’s outsourcing or downsizing, business is booming. For most independent HR consultants, though, their business will decline as businesses reel in their expenses. Many companies still need to have the work done—they’re simply postponing projects until the economy begins to rebound,” he says. “And, it will in time,” he notes.

Outsourcing More Viable than Ever

Despite the slowing economy, outsourcing remains a viable option for many organizations, representing opportunities for HR consultants.

“If you stop and think about what is affected in companies the most right now, it’s the people,” Carvin points out. “So, in an economic change of any kind, whether we go into a huge boom or a huge bust, people are affected. And, who is responsible for the people function of a company— that’s HR, whether internal or external,” says Carvin. “HR people, in my opinion, become more critical at this stage of the game than ever,” she says.

In today’s culture of do more with less, firms are still outsourcing for three reasons,
—time, money and retention:
  • Time. The recent turn of the economy has not only been shown by the number of layoffs, but also with the increased workload burden for employees who made the cut. In a department of 60 where 20 were laid off there are simply not enough hours in the day for the remaining 40 to pick up the slack, says Espuga.
  • Money. It is more economical to hire professionals temporarily than to spend the firm’s dollars on salaried employees with benefits, who are not contractually obligated to finish projects, she says.
  • Retention. Since uncertain times send employees’ morale plummeting, now more than ever it is critical to keep turnover low by keepng current employees satisfied, says Espuga. HR consultants can certainly play a role here.

Carvin agrees. “We’re seeing that a lot of HR departments are running with shorter staffs and are swamped with work so they often need to turn to some outside expertise,” she says.

Capitalizing on Environmental Opportunities

HR consultants that can carve out a special niche that represents value for their clients will also survive—even thrive—in this economy.

“It is my professional opinion that this is an excellent time for HR consultants—just not the traditional kind,” says Jim VanNest, a consultant who recently made the switch from being an HR director inside an organization to starting his own HR consultants/staffing group. VanNest is hoping to ride that wave through the services provided by his company, Second Watch Associations. He says he sees some key dynamics in the environment that are driving new demand:
  • The decentralization of work task assignments into separate organizations that form working units on a project basis. This was foretold in 1991 by Robert Reich in The Work of Nations, VanNest points out.
  • The decline in participation and the eventual exit of Baby Boomers from the full-time workforce, leaving behind tasks for which there are no replacements, or untrained or lightly trained replacements even when available.
  • The movement from bricks and mortar companies to virtual companies.

“When we add the latest dynamic that shows that many currently operating medium and larger businesses are in debt or bordering on bankruptcy, the opportunities for smaller companies that do not have as much expensive overhead or as extensive debts expand even more,”

Emphasizing Value

A tight economy in which many HR consultants are competing for the same clients makes bidding competition more intense. “Because of fewer contracts being offered in the marketplace, HR consultants will need to become more competitive in pricing proposals and add extra value as a bonus,”

“You have to prove cost/benefit these days whether that involves an eligibility audit on their health plan to providing proven sales-force effectiveness or top-grading the sales force—these are all issues that people are struggling with and you’re going to sell those projects at the CEO/CFO level, typically,”

In fact, the area of evaluating and improving sales-force effectiveness is one that Nussbaum says he is surprised has not become more prevalent among HR consultants.

“There’s no better way for HR to demonstrate return on investment than to improve the sales force,” he says.

To conclude there are three pieces of advice to HR consultants in this economy:

  • Accelerate your marketing.
  • Continue to network.
  • Turn off all of the gloom and doom.

“You can use the economy as an excuse for everything and you can be paralyzed and just sit in front of your computer all day watching your portfolio—or you can take action,” she says. “This is the time for HR consultants to really show organizations the value they bring.”

Francis Jeyaraj
Appoline Global HRD Consulting Group

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Can you sleep when the wind blows?

Years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast.
He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were
reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the
awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.
As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received
A steady stream of refusals.Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached
the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him.
"Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man.Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help,
Hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from
dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work.
Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore.
Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed
next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the
little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming!
Tie things down before they blow away!"
The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No
sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows."Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on
the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm.
To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had
been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens
were in the coops, and the doors were barred.
The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down.
Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his
hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while
the wind blew.
When you're prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically,
you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the
wind blows through your life?
The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he
had secured the farm against the storm.
We secure ourselves against the storms of life by
grounding ourselves in the Word of God.
We don't need to understand, we just need to hold
His hand to have peace in the middle of storms.
A friend of mine sent this to me today,
and I enjoyed it so much, that I wanted to send it to you.
I hope you enjoy your day and you sleep well.

Let me sleep for a while....

Francis Jeyaraj

Dissolving the Bitterness of Life

Once a young man came to a revered teacher, who was seated under a
tree near a beautiful lake, and asked for the solution for his unhappiness.
After some minutes of conversation the old master kindly instructed the
visitor to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink a few
“How does it taste?” the teacher asked. “Awful,” said the apprentice after
he had spat out the revolting liquid a few paces away.
The teacher chuckled and then asked the young man to take another handful of
salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake
and when the youngster swirled his handful of salt into the lake, the old
man told him, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked him
again, “How does it taste?” “Good!” he replied. “Do you taste the salt?”
asked the Master. “No,” said the young man. The Master sat beside the
troubled youth, took his hands, and said :
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in
life remains the same, exactly the same. But the level of ‘pain we taste’
depends on the container we put it into. So when you are in pain, the
only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a
glass. Become a lake. And you can become a lake when you broaden
your outlook; when you stop looking only at yourself and your own
miseries. Look at life as a whole and the many things without which
you would not be what you are today – your friends, family, hobbies,
nature around you.
When you are confronted with a problem, you see only the problem
and ruminate over it endlessly which only makes the situation more
tragic. Think of previous instances when things were better. Look at
all the blessings that God has filled your life with about which you never
give a thought.
Never compare yourself negatively with others. You are a unique person
and if you have the faith, God will provide what you need. When you have
a pain in your life, put it in front of GOD - then it will surely lessen.
Do not put it in front of yourself – as you cannot see beyond it.
God is Infinite. Tap this source, with confidence.
The young man left, and his viewpoint on his problems had totally
As the saying goes:
Tell your problems : "HOW BIG YOUR GOD IS!!”

Have a great day,

Francis Jeyaraj

Monday, March 23, 2009

Appoline Blogging !

Dear All,

I have started blogging in my Mother's name APPOLINE !

"Add People Profile Overall Life Improvement & Nurture Empowerment"

Hope you will find this b-log so useful. Please actively participate to make it more interactive and lively.

Profound Thanks & Regards,

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