Saying Thanks with a Bright(er) Outlook

Small Town Optimist Column

By Cyndy Bolton

Sitting in the reception area of a high-tech software company on March Road in Kanata this week, I glanced at the reading materials on the table in front of me. I am slightly germ-a-phobic. I don't ordinarily touch these things, especially in the doctors' office, but this issue particular caught my eye.

The cover wasn't overly attractive, in fact, it was an advertisement. The front page was an ad for an upcoming annual event. This appears to be the nature of the beast lately. Putting ads on the cover of a newspaper or magazine. I'm not a fan of this type of advertising. Let the cover be a COVER. Don't cover the cover with ads. I want it to be appealing, not deceiving. Although it's a smart concept, it will wear thin over time as consumers feel duped by advertorials (advertising disguised as a story).

I detached the glued-on ad page and uncovered the original cover. It was quite inspirational. The image was that of a bright sun slightly obscured by a couple of fluffy white clouds. It was the kind of image you would see after a storm. The pretty colours, yellow, orange and a soft sky blue told of the end of confusion and the clearing of past events. A break in the weather, a shift in circumstances.

The main header of Talent Management magazine read, "The 2010 Outlook." The subhead declared the state of affairs: "Conditions remain partly cloudy, but smart organizations will focus on building order to shine this year." Interesting and refreshing, I thought. So let's break the meaning of this down:

  1. Partly Cloudy: Knowingly, we are not out of the woods yet regarding the recession. It's still leaving its effect on our daily lives, and will for some time. We see it in the continuation of budget cuts, the instability of the markets, and how it has reshaped our spending habits. It's been a hard ride, but some economists are saying the worst is over. Enter stage left, a ray of sunshine.

  2. Smart Organizations: These are the groups and companies who will be creative in their approach to solutions for the issues that the recession brought forth. Innovation and initiation of creative programs will move companies and corporations, big and small, forward into stability. Once stabilized, they will keep this momentum going by growing theses programs. Exit stage right, a cloud.

  3. Building Loyalty: This one got me. I have to admit, I'm all for giving to employees as a win-win opportunity for both. In James Sharpe's article on "Locking in Loyalty", he stated that in order to keep the employees that were committed to ride through the recession, corporations now must focus on giving thanks via the roll out of loyalty based processes. "It (loyalty) must be earned." Sharpe says. Employees should now be rewarded by companies for taking on the added workload of laid off peers. As revenues begin to realize their new, post-recession potentials, companies have to consider how they are going to retain and thank the people who remained responsible for daily tasks. The weather is clearing, and the new horizon is clearly defined.

The January issue of Talent Management is a must-read for all human resources and management professionals. It touches on the issues of holding on to top talent, helping employees develop a secondary specialty, and generational issues. Generation X and Y employees are people who offer distinct values, needs and wants different from work forces of the past. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, in 2010, 40% of the workforce will be eligible to retire. The American labor force is about to face a 10 million worker shortfall. A double edged sword of an issue. Good for talented workers who are looking for opportunity, not so good for companies looking to fill positions, and retain staff.

It's the small things that we do for our people that will help companies in the long run. I'm not sure if we can eradicate the multi-million dollar payments to high level management, but we can surely start by saying thank you to those who have served us well.