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Trokey’s Take: Lead your clients out of the recession

Friday, April 23, 2010
Written By
Kevin Trokey

Who will emerge from the recession first?

That’s easy. It will be those companies who quit focusing merely on how to survive the day and start planning on how to thrive tomorrow. It will be those organizations who are the leanest, fastest and most engaged. Become a catalyst to helping your clients become leaner, faster, and engaged and I assure you that you will emerge ahead of your competition.

Prior to the recession, employers were emphasizing the importance of attracting and retaining employees. Employee free agency was seen as imminent as there was projected to be a surplus of 10 million jobs by 2010. While the recession may have delayed that surplus, employers have unknowingly placed themselves in the eye of a perfect storm by complicating the matter further. As the recession took root, there was a quick and almost sudden pressure on bottom lines. Companies enacted layoffs and cut expenses such as training and education initiatives, reduced benefits and stopped communicating with their employees. While the layoffs may have made them lean, these are actions that haven’t created a “sustainable lean,” and certainly haven’t created fast or engaged cultures.

How can you help your clients become lean?

In order to get more from less, you better have the best talent in your industry/market. While current employees may be happy to have a job, they are not happy. Help your clients to identify their critical employees and make sure an effective retention strategy is in place. Becoming remarkable in the eyes of their current employees will ensure that their best talent is retained and will make attracting the best new talent significantly easier.

How can you help your clients be fast?

Fast can only happen in organizations with a culture of trust in place. Develop and implement programs that focus on teamwork, leadership and a more open forum of communication. If you can’t deliver this type of program yourself, partner with a freelance professional who can. You may be shocked at how hard (and cheap) they are willing to work right now to establish new relationships.

Employee engagement = productivity

When the cost of human capital can be as high as 30 – 50 percent of revenue in some industries, it is critical to get the greatest return possible on that investment. Think about it, a 10 percent increase in productivity is the equivalent of adding 3 – 5 percent to the top line. While employee engagement is an idea that may feel elusive, there are some simple ways to help your clients make improvements. One study showed that when managers simply focus on employee strengths rather than weaknesses, the likelihood of active disengagement dropped from 22 percent to 1 percent.

Lean, fast and engaged. These are the ingredients for companies to once again start focusing on innovation rather than just focusing on operations. It is innovation that will bring a return of healthier profit margins.

Employers are going to be looking to their HR departments to help make them lean, fast and engaged. Because HR positions tend to be eliminated early during layoffs (non-revenue producing position), they are going to find a department less prepared for such a strategy than ever before.

What an opportunity for us to make a difference! Let’s look at our role as filling that strategic void. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for the value you deliver rather than a product you delivered? Help your clients become lean, fast and engaged and you will become an invaluable partner to them. It will take you delivering a different message, but the outcome more than justifies the effort. You just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I want it?”

About the Author

Kevin Trokey is President of Benefits Growth Network, a firm specializing in growth strategies for Employee Benefit agencies, departments and producers. Visit for more information or reach him at

© Copyright 2010 Zywave, Inc.

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