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Survey: HR's influence grows in down economy

Posted by NEHRA  February 23, 2009 09:00 AM

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According to a January 2009 Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA) e-survey on economic impact, financial results are expected to decrease in 45% of responding organizations, while 24% expect increases and the remaining 31% expect results to remain the same. NEHRA, the premier HR association in New England with over 3,000 members, conducted the e-survey to determine how the current economy is affecting firms in the New England area as compared to their last e-survey conducted in April 2008.

"The results from our survey were not a surprise given the state of the economy," said Bob Eubank, NEHRA’s Executive Director, "but there is some very interesting data."

"When this survey was conducted back in April, it was reported that the majority of HR department budgets were remaining at the same levels for the rest of 2008, and this is still true as of the new survey results in January.”

However, the 2008 survey indicated that organizational staffing was expected to remain at the same levels. The 2009 results show that 46% of respondents project a decrease in staffing for 2009.

While the 2009 survey indicates that over 50% of those surveyed are experiencing a minor impact from the recession, almost 40% see a significant or major impact. The majority are not significantly altering their course right now, according to the survey.

Of particular note is that nearly 73% of 2009 respondents indicated that HR’s influence within their organization is greater than it was before the recession (prior to 2008). This statistic clearly shows the importance of human resources during these difficult economic conditions.

In comparing the 2008 and 2009 surveys, in both cases about 60% of respondents reported that they expect a decrease in the amount of mid-management openings. The 2008 respondents reported they expect an over 65% increase in entry-level positions, while the 2009 respondents expect nearly the same % of entry-level and mid-management positions.

Over 55% of the respondents reported that they have not nor are they currently planning a reduction in force for 2009. Furthermore, when asked if they believe they are at risk for losing their top talent, nearly 72% of respondents said no in regards to 2009. When asked what measures they are taking to prevent loss of top talent, the majority of respondents indicated they were offering employee recognition programs, as well as adding flexible work schedules when and where possible. Many respondents indicated that they are currently working to define retention programs, including retention bonuses.

In 2008, budgets for training programs and continuing education programs were projected to remain the same for 69% of survey respondents. Nearly 76% of the 2009 survey respondents indicated training/education program budgets would increase remain the same, while 33% expected decreases in these expenditures.

Little change is expected in employee benefits and perks in 2009. Where organizations were adding benefits, they tended to be in the areas of lower cost insurance programs and employee assistance. Those 2009 respondents reducing benefits primarily mentioned 401(k) matches, social events and tuition assistance.

About the survey and NEHRA
Over 3,000 HR professionals, representing large and small companies in all industries within the region, as well as individuals providing products and services to the human resources community, comprise NEHRA's membership base. A total of 208 NEHRA members responded to the online survey, which was conducted from January 19 to January 27, 2009.

NEHRA is New England's premier human resources association. Since 1985, NEHRA has provided HR professionals with programs, information and relationships that stimulate professional growth and enhance workplace contributions. The mission of the Northeast Human Resources Association is to lead, advance and influence the management of human resources and its impact on organizational success. For more information, visit

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About NEHRA - The Voice of HR Featuring articles and resources for Human Resources / HR professional and hiring managers from the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA).

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