Come clean, do what is sustainable, be fair to both the company as well as the candidates, be honest and upfront
Vivek Paranjpe, Consultant & Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries answers professional and ethical dilemmas faced by our readers at their workplace.
My company is in the service sector and I’m a senior manager in the talent acquisition division. Six months ago, we made numerous campus placement offers. Today, however, our financial situation is precarious and we don’t think we require as many new joinees as we thought we would need. When we encountered such situations in the past, we rescinded the offers. I’m worried about the bad press our company may receive and the subsequent impact on employer branding if we rescind the offers en masse. I have pushed back the joining dates of these students and that has allowed me to keep my options open. My HR head and strategy team will of course decide on a course of action for us but I want to know what the best way forward in such situations is. – Mr to-fire-or-not-to-fire.
Dear Mr to-fire-or-not-to-fire,
I can fully empathise with your predicament. It is undeniably a tough and embarrassing situation for the company. Well these are some unfortunate realities of life. Tough times call for tough decisions; you can’t just be nice all the time. We have to learn to deal with such unfortunate business exigencies firmly without losing the aspect of fair play. You may get a hit on your employer branding for a while, however once you bounce back from the financial crisis, you can always build back.
You have stated that your company is going through a precarious financial crisis and therefore you will not be able to hire so many young graduates that you have made offers to. My question to you is, will your pushing back the joining dates help the corporation? Are you sure you will come out of the precarious financial problems that you are going through in the next few months? If you don’t see that possibility, what is the point in a push back? Call “spade a spade” and deal with the situation head-on. Just rescind all the job offers. This certainly will be embarrassing and will create bad publicity; however that is far better than you terminating the new hires after they join you. Such an eventuality will be worst. Be fair to the people, state the reality and deal with the situation straight away without the hesitation and the time lag. This will enable these young graduates to quickly look for other alternatives; it is question of their careers.
However, if you clearly see the signs of turnaround in the near future (be absolutely sure), communicate with those who you want to join the company about the reality and the revised date of joining. In this case, depending on your financial situation, may be you can still allow those few to join you as per the plan with a lower salary / stipend to begin with, and build in a plan for increases bringing them to the right levels over a year. There can be multiple ways to manage such a situation. Each path / solution has its own pros and cons.
There is no one right answer to such a situation. The only right thing to do is: Come clean, do what is sustainable, be fair to both the company as well as to the candidates, be honest and be upfront.
To conclude: Don’t try to camouflage; sooner or later you will be exposed and that will be worst. Just move ahead and take well thought out decisive steps.
Vivek Paranjpe is Consultant & Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries. Allow Vivek to clear your career and professional dilemmas by writing to us at email@example.com