Relationships and the Recession

Hello – Clive here. I was delighted to see the recent announcements that France, Germany, Japan and Hong Kong have moved out of recession. This is great news. One of the impacts of the economic downturn has been companies increased scrutiny on return on investment.

Last week, I was in a meeting and was asked whether companies tend to call us when there is an emergency (i.e. a badly broken relationship) or whether we are called as part of a strategic approach to cost saving. It was a great question. Unfortunately, the answer was that in most cases, it’s the former.


This might surprise you, but I don’t own a car. I haven’t owned a car for about 3 years. I ride a push bike and travel long distances by train. When I used to own a car I remember the yearly MOT. At the end of the test, the mechanic might say to me “Mr. Lewis, your vehicle has passed but there are some repairs we recommend you carry out before they turn into major problems”.

This can be the same scenario for organisations. Signs are often received that indicate a problem is developing. It might be increasing sickness and absence rates, lowering productivity rates, losing talented employees, sabotage/theft or rising grievance cases. All these can be symptoms of much bigger problems.

Unfortunately organisational MOTs are not statutory. If they were, substantial sums of money might be able to be saved. One of the biggest untapped opportunities for cost efficiencies today is through building better relationships in the workplace. Leatham Green at East Sussex County Council has recently led an initiative that has saved £500,000 over one year. They are currently on the short list for a 2009 CIPD award. I’ll be amazed if they don’t win.

If all organisations did carry out an MOT perhaps, it might just help contribute to the UK being able to follow the other countries and by emerge from recession by next quarter. It’s a compelling business case. Good luck. Let me know how you get on…

Have a good week.