Societies tend to turn to illiberal measures in times of crisis. Human rights are at risk of becoming a kind of “ peace time nicety” . Democracy is threatened as governments do away with the long established checks and balances justified by the need to make decisions quickly in an emergency and place restrictions on people that in normal times would have been considered draconian. The resulting lack of parliamentary scrutiny breeds bad decisions , bad government and ultimately corruption. This is what happens in a pandemic to human rights and democracy. There is an equivalent in organisations.
The chief executive tells a meeting of the top tires of management that the organisation’s financial positions is perilous. “ We are standing on a burning platform, we do not have the luxury of debate, urgent decisive action is necessary, there is no room for decent and no point in consultation because we have no choice but to take the actions I am about to outline”. He might have added , but there was no need as it was understood by all, that the Equality and Diversity agenda was firmly on the back burner, as was grand sounding initiatives around corporate social responsibility and business ethics.
A financial crisis doesn’t just mean E&D is a nicety for more prosperous times it also has implications for staff engagement, reward ,retention, remuneration and development as redundancies, redeployments and restructuring are imposed along with less favourable terms and conditions of employment as the organisation takes drastic action to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
So whilst the senior management team ploughs ahead with its no debate, no dissent recovery/survival plan HR must deal with the resulting employee relations.
Where as financial management short – termism is about balancing the budget within the financial year, looking at reducing costs and increasing income the next year, human resource management is about investing in the future taking a longer term view on retention, development , engagement, equality and diversity.
The challenge is to try and restore some balance. The organisation may need to reduce staffing , change working practices and impose less favourable terms and conditions but you don’t want to lose your best employees, your most experienced and skilled workers or cause moral to go though the floor otherwise you have saved the day only to go out of business tomorrow!