These are uncharted waters, the future is uncertain and we are moving at such a fast pace whilst still feeling like we are wading through mud. As a country we've faced tough times before - particularly with downturns in the economy, the aftermath of 9/11, SARS, the ash cloud... all of that challenged businesses to react.
We've seen some knee jerk reactions in the last week. A large hotel chain for example, made every role where the incumbent had served for less than two years redundant, just hours before The Chancellor announced sweeping (and welcome) measures to protect jobs when companies might make them redundant. We've also seen the case of a hotel in Scotland asking employees to vacate their staff accommodation immediately. At the very least this is humanity at it's worst. At its best it is showing a lack of leadership. So is it cancellation of training investment all round? Or is there some light in some areas of the training world?
Here's what the switched on brands and CEO's understand about investing in training when times are frighteningly tough...
Keep your colleagues happy
Your people deliver your brand promise. Employee satisfaction directly relates to customer satisfaction which increases sales. When even being at work is not an option, then training becomes a personal investment that you can make in every employee's future. Showing that commitment in the future by talking about what will be needed and what you will invest in.
Train your managers
Many of them may not have had to manage in tough times before and even if they have, they will never have experienced the nature of this crisis. Investing in management development training builds the skills they need to manage your people through challenging times and helps reduce the loss of the best talent from your organisation. This can still be a face to face intervention with the wonders of technology. Now is the time to upskill your managers in the key skills needed for their teams to survive.
It's about customer experience
Retaining loyal customers is much cheaper than finding new ones and most of the experience that your customers have is driven by your people. Customer experience training can create competitive differentiation and be the deciding factor when customers make critical purchasing decisions. Now is the time to start planning how you will differentiate when business returns to normal in a few months time.
Spend less, get more with smaller, innovative companies
When training budgets are being reduced the best suppliers may be the smaller, innovative companies with great ideas and lower overheads. They understand the need to offer competitive pricing, deliver great value, and help build for the future. These companies don't bid the highest price and they don't charge you to cover the costs of their big swanky offices, but they do give you value for money, lower cost per head and a better ROI. You'll also be doing your bit to protect jobs in that sector.
Be ready for the upturn - it's coming!
Times are tough - there is no doubt about that. It's temporary, it will pass and the most successful people and companies will be ready to take advantage of the upturn as soon as it comes. Retaining and enhancing skills now will mean you're first to the new opportunities when appear (and they will). Companies that have missed the boat will be in a desperate race to re-hire talent and retrain from scratch.
Your people remember
No matter what happens, your people will remember how they were treated. They will decide for themselves if they still believe in the values you have across the wall in the office. They will be part of an in demand talent pool once more and they will choose where they show their loyalty. If you think you've got engagement issues now, just wait for the aftermath of this. Those hotel employees that were made redundant won't forget. Next time you go out with the 'our people are important to us' message it may well fall on deaf ears.
Make the choice
My last tip... choosing the right training partner. Finding the right fit for the culture you want to develop will really help you to come up with some great ideas. The right fit will really help you to come up with great ideas, find ways to deliver on a more efficient budget and drive a lasting change in your business. You want a partner that will help you blow your people's expectations out of the water, whilst getting a great result for your investment.
At Acceler8 we know that it's about partnership. There are no glory hunters in our team. We work to craft learning that engages your people and creates real change in behaviours, capabilities and results. Everything is delivered as if we are you - we want you to get the glory for our work. It might not be the time to deliver now, but it is a great time for planning and for design, meaning you are ready to go as soon as you need to be.
Do you want your company to be fighting fit and ready for the upturn? If you make the right decision your people, your stakeholders and your customers will thank you for it.