HR Execs Ready with Financial Info for More Economy Woes

November 10, 2008 ( - If the current economic slowdown continues, most HR officials in a recent survey said they would consider responding with more financial planning information to help employees better cope.

A news release by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said 83% of poll respondents reported that their response could well include financial educational literature and/or workshops by investment specialists. Another 21% said they might revise investment policies for 401(k) plans and other savings programs.

According to the announcement, 11% said they might change investment management companies, 7% said they would consider offering employees investment options other than 401(k) plans, and 6% said they might suspend investments in mutual funds that are deemed risky.

Meanwhile, according to SHRM, 70% of HR professionals feel budget cuts across entire organizations are likely, while more than half (55%) of respondents said hiring freezes are also likely if economic problems persist.

In addition to organization-wide budget cuts and hiring freezes, HR professionals said cutting bonuses (50%), freezing wage increases (45% ), and layoffs (39%) are “likely” actions that might be taken should economic conditions worsen.

On the flip side, respondents said restructuring executive compensation and/or severance packages (82%), and outsourcing some business functions (79%) were only “somewhat” or “not as likely” to be undertaken, according to SHRM.

According to a news release, the poll, Changes Organizations Have Made in Light of 2008 Financial Challenges to the U.S. Economy, is the second to be released in a series of new SHRM Polls being conducted in response to the downturn in the economy.

The announcement said the poll asked nearly 450 HR professionals what actions related to employee investments and retirement planning their organizations are most likely to take in the coming months if there are no reversals in the current downward economic trends.

"Today's ever-changing and competitive business environment is placing unprecedented responsibilities on HR professionals," said Steve Williams, director of research for SHRM. "The 2008 hiring landscape has been weak, yet it's more important than ever for organizations to compete for and retain the best talent. It's HR who's going to tell them what workers want today, what keeps them happy, and what makes them stay."

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