Economic Crisis and Communication: The Role of the HR Manager
Business Systems Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 278, 2013
19 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 1, 2013
As Conner and Ulrich (1996) have broadly maintained, the evolution of Human Resources Management (HRM) is related to the historical evolution of the business and of the economy in which companies operate. Accordingly, the roles and decisions of HR managers and the HR function adapts to the changes that take place in the economic cycle. Since 2008, the global economy has been immersed in one of the most significant structural economic crises of recent times. Its origins can be traced to the North American financial crisis, and its consequences have impacted all global economic production sectors, triggering a broad and profound employment crisis which has led to a deepening social recession around the world. In Spain, the effects of the crisis on the labor market have been much more devastating than in the rest of Europe, and around six million people have lost their jobs. In the light of this context, we wished to investigate what should be the role and the contribution of HR in business crisis management, and what are the key drivers in achieving employee engagement. Have there been recent changes in the HR manager’s role? The efficiency of an appropriate communication policy in a crisis situation, both with respect to employees and to their union representatives, constitutes a crucial factor which could be defined as the strategic role adopted by the HR function when facing a change in the economic cycle. In this sense, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the internal (employee-directed) and external (union-representative-directed) communication strategies being applied by the HR managers of Spanish companies in their approach to the economic crisis. The paper outlines and explores the firsthand opinions of managers and unions on dealing with what is considered to be the deepest crisis after the Great Depression of ‘29, and concludes with a description of how the crisis is strengthening the strategic role of the HR function.
Keywords: Internal communication, Global financial crisis, HR manager role, Employee engagement, Unions, Work council
JEL Classification: M00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation