February 23, 2009

Fast Forward on 2009

Lexus just introduced it's newly-updated SUV, the RX for 2010.

While I am not what you would call a car hound, I certainly have an appreciation for fun and sexy cars (my personal all-time favorites would definitely be the '85 BMW 635csi and a vintage '55 VW Kharman Ghia coupe), Lexus' have never captured my attention.

So while the Lexus RX has always seemed a little staid to me, what really made me stop was, the marketing approach for the RX: 2009 is a write-off, let's skip it and look ahead to 2010. Wow, it's going to be a long year.

This approach makes me wonder - is 2009 going to be like a TiVo show that you end up fast-forwarding to the end (or maybe wish we could)?

I was speaking to a friend who just returned from a leadership conference his employer held this month. The friend's employer is tightening its belt and settling in for a bumpy ride. But even more frightening was an off-hand comment from an official of the organization that employee's are 'frankly just lucky to have a job.'

Having spent the better part of the last month interviewing candidates (about 75% of them unemployed from the auto or allied industries), the pragmatist in me agrees.

The HR strategist in me is worried - employers that embrace this 'be thankful or else' attitude are going to have a rude awakening at the end of our recession/depression/whatever-you-call-it.

Employees 'left standing' at the end of 2009 will likely have been surrounded by layoffs in their organization. According to a recent (Dec 2008) scientific study (4000+ employees from 3100+ companies) conducted by Leadership IQ, these 'survivors' are 87% less likely to recommend their organization as a good place to work and believe (61%) that the companies prospects are worse.

So, fast forward to 2010 (or for the real pessimists in the crowd, 2011). If the survivors remaining in organizations mirror the finding above - will they stay when new opportunities come up? Or, will they 'be thankful' to leave?

My bet is that employees told they should be thankful, will be thankful - to leave.

And, after all is settled from this economic tsunami, we are still left facing an inevitable reality: the bulk of our workforce is aging and still anticipating retirement (perhaps pushed off a few years), we haven't produced the scientists, engineers, nurses, doctors, technicians, etc that our economy and organizations need to be optimized.