Types of skills employees must have for businesses to survive a recession

Businesses are reviewing budgets in preparation for a global downturn which economists believe could be deep and long. Many of us have been around long enough to remember the GFC. We know what it takes to get through a downturn and the answer is – your people. You have to have the right people with the right attitude and skill set to position your business to weather the storm. The skills required in a bull market are different to those in a bear market.

These are not skills that come naturally, they need to be taught in a way that aligns with business operations. My strong advice to businesses is – get ready. Galvanise your people and your business with the skills needed to survive and thrive over the next few years.

Not only are we facing a period of uncertainty, we are also facing a period of great change. This requires a different state of mind and range of skills. Managers and leaders in particular, need to understand this and develop their capabilities to be able to navigate the global downturn ahead and ensure they are able to guide and support their people accordingly also.

Top skills needed by businesses to survive a recession

With the Australian economy cooling, businesses now need to act quickly to prepare and galvanise their operations. Skill up and prepare your people for the road ahead; help them to become invincible. GRIST has analysed global research and we have identified the top skills needed by businesses to survive during a downturn and there are four of them;

Adaptability and the capacity to work in a universal way

Australian businesses must effectively adopt a ‘universal and survival’ approach to doing business. Skill up your people to learn a broader range of skills that enables them to job share, fill in and assist in other roles where and as when needed. In addition, incorporate a broader set of responsibilities into roles so that there is less segmentation of work.

Role segmentation is a luxury in a tighter market. Essentially, people must be able to jump in and out of roles and work activities as needed to reduce idle capacity and increase efficiency.

Improvision and finding more economical ways of doing things

Finding more efficient ways of doing things is critical at any time but more so when the economy is more challenging. People must be trained in skills that enable them to think more creativity about how to bootstrap and achieve efficiencies in the business. Leaders need to be coached in how to support people to change their behaviours and find alternative more cost-effective ways of doing things which not only achieve outcomes but amplify the results.

Digital literacy, the ability to work with technology

Technology is evolving at a faster pace than ever before. Businesses need to ensure that they are embracing this change wherever possible to improve productivity and eliminate slow, time-consuming and expensive ways of operating. They key is to embrace technology in a way that enables simple and repetitive work to be undertaken by artificial intelligence so that resources can be freed up to focus on higher value and revenue-generating work.

People with expertise in the use of AI will become increasingly valuable for businesses as they seek ways of providing customer service and other activities in more cost-effective ways.

Social skills; collaboration, leadership, influence, and communication

Tougher economic conditions place more pressure on businesses and their workforces to achieve productivity gains and sales outcomes. Businesses need people with the skills to ensure the business is performing well while also maintaining high levels of morale.

This can only be achieved when people have the right social skills and are being coached and supported through effective leadership. Statistically, happy and engaged workplaces are more productive. Businesses need to urgently focus on coaching managers and leaders at all levels to prepare them for the period ahead. Research shows that as the rate of change increases, developing a continuous learning and adaptability mindset becomes a great differentiator.

The ability to learn and adapt quickly to situations enables individuals and firms to stay ahead of the curve and respond to changing circumstances with agility and resilience. Businesses need to prepare their people to develop the skills and behaviours needed to support the business to succeed during periods of financial pressure and economic uncertainty.

Peter Grist is the Managing Director of Australian corporate coaching and training business, GRIST, which works with many household brands. GRIST is the creator of an innovative online training and coaching course for managers called The GIST – which features high impact humour-based learning modules delivered by entertainment icons including Shane Jacobson.

Principal economist