Open-access content 8th January 2009
This first FM World of 2009 will find many readers facing an uncertain future, as the full impact of the global economic downturn becomes apparent.
8 January 2009
This first FM World of 2009 will find many readers facing an uncertain future, as the full impact of the global economic downturn becomes apparent. Most organisations will have been working on their contingency plans - protecting core investment, securing reserves, capping expenditure. Some will have already been forced to shed staff or delay projects. A few will be scenting opportunities to take market share or launch new services.
An organisation's values are really tested during adversity. Such times also place a premium on good communication. So, in the middle of all the workshops and brainstorming, it's worth finding time to revisit the mission and values statements.
If your organisation professes an ethical policy, whether it's paying sub-contractors within a specific time frame or sourcing from approved suppliers, then make sure you adhere to it.
Have you committed to reducing your environmental impact, through energy efficiency or recycling perhaps? Try to maintain these initiatives - they should also help the bottom line.
Are you known for your enlightened human resources practices, with a commitment to training or rewarding initiative? Such programmes are always under pressure in a downturn but there may be creative ways to deliver their intent.
External communication is important during a recession. Organisations will want to maintain their profile and ensure they are visible to exploit any new opportunities. Alongside established communication channels, there are now plenty of innovative ways to get your messages across to the right audience. More than ever, the communication must be two-way. This is the time, as brand loyalty is easily eroded, to listen to your users and customers.
If external communication is important in a harsh business climate, then internal communication is vital. Staff will be looking for strong direction, information, realism and reassurance. If tough but necessary decisions have to be made - a pay freeze or redundancies for example - then ensure you not only follow the 'rules' but that you communicate the reasons behind the decisions. Respect for individuals and the contribution they make should be part of every organisations' culture.
Those that keep to their core values in challenging times will emerge stronger when the recovery comes.