Postal Service Layoffs Show Why You Can’t be Ill-Prepared For the Future

For many organizations, talent acquisition is still reactionary. Organizations binge on talent when times are good and purge on talent when times are bad.

In fact, data collected from Aberdeen’s 2012 talent acquisition research report found that only 2 percent of organizations have a long-term approach to talent initiatives. Given today’s competition for talent, why are organizations still so ill-prepared for the future?

What is the cost of failing to look ahead? Just ask the U.S. Postal Service.

3 areas the the USPS should focus on

Last month, the Postal Service announced plans to eliminate 35,000 jobs in order to reduce $20 billion in spend by 2015. While some of the key drivers for downsizing were influenced by external factors such as the rise of email, text messaging and social media. Other key drivers were the result of insufficient talent endeavors. What role can strategic talent management play in these decisions? How can it help to mitigate risk?

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Below are a few areas that USPS might want to consider for the future:

  • Prioritize workforce planning: Workforce planning is a key focus for many organizations in 2012. Nearly half of Best-in-Class organizations surveyed in Aberdeen’s 2012 HR Trends report are looking to identify gaps between the supply and demand of talent in order to meet specific business requirements. This approach transcends traditional headcount analysis by including skill gap analysis and scenario planning. The ability to identify these gaps gives HR the insight needed to prepare for current and future business needs and can help prevent or at least prepare organizations for this type of massive layoffs. Mollie Lombardi is publishing a report on workforce planning and analytics this month that you do not want to miss.
  • Do not ignore the offboarding process: While onboarding has become a buzzword in talent management, few organizations focus on offboarding strategies. A negative offboarding approach can have a devastating approach to employer branding and future hiring efforts especially with the rise of social media and sites such as Glassdoor and Jobvent. Surprisingly, according to Aberdeen’ 2012 talent acquisition survey, only 25 percent of respondents include an offboarding strategy to transition former employees while only 16 percent of respondents include an offboarding strategy that communicates with alumni.
  • Leverage alumni for employer branding: Alumni programs can serve as a powerful recruitment and employer branding tool. Organizations can utilize these programs for employee referrals, rehiring efforts or efforts to expand the business. Deloitte is one example of an organization that has a rehire rate of over 20 percent. Following a period of layoffs, organizations can engage with alumni, provide job seeking support, and facilitate networking opportunities. Social media sites are one affordable option to help engage with alumni.

Although sometimes downsizing is inevitable, organizations need to remain agile enough to be able to respond to these changes and proactive enough to ensure that talent initiatives are being implemented and adopted consistently throughout the organization.

Madeline Laurano is the founder of Aptitude Research. Her primary focus over the last 12+ years has been on the talent management market, specializing in talent acquisition. Her work helps companies both validate and reevaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. 

Prior, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media, and Brandon Hall Group. She is co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today.