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

See all articles by Lourdes Susaeta

Lourdes Susaeta

University of Navarra, IESE Business School

Esperanza Suarez

University of Navarra, IESE Business School

José R. Pin

University of Navarra, IESE Business School

Date Written: April 1, 2013

Abstract

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

Susaeta, Lourdes and Suarez, Esperanza and Pin, José R., Economic Crisis and Communication: The Role of the HR Manager (April 1, 2013). Business Systems Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 278, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2245795

Lourdes Susaeta (Contact Author)

University of Navarra, IESE Business School ( email )

Camino del Cerro del Aguila 3
Madrid, 28023
Spain

Esperanza Suarez

University of Navarra, IESE Business School ( email )

Avenida Pearson 21
Barcelona, 08034
Spain

José R. Pin

University of Navarra, IESE Business School ( email )

Camino del Cerro del Aguila 3
Madrid, 28023
Spain

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