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From: PRWeek To: Judith Harrison, Mike Marino Subject: Five years in HR Since November of 1998, we've had a tech boom and bust, a recession, and a war. How have these events changed the way that you do your job? How have they changed the HR and recruitment fields?

From: PRWeek To: Judith Harrison, Mike Marino Subject: Five years in HR Since November of 1998, we've had a tech boom and bust, a recession, and a war. How have these events changed the way that you do your job? How have they changed the HR and recruitment fields?

From: Judith Harrison To: Mike Marino, PRWeek Subject: RE: Five years in HR The changes in the recruiting and human resources areas in the last five years have been nothing short of staggering. A few years ago, when the Dow was flirting with 12,000, dot-com was the epitome of cool. A whole new language and space had been invented, and PR agencies were desperate to hire people to spread the news. This was concurrent with a corporate paradigm shift that basically inverted the employer/employee relationship of previous years, epitomized in 2000 by a startup-company-run website that, according to The Wall Street Journal, let candidates "name their own price" for attending a job interview and then split the negotiated fee. PR people in all spaces were being recruited at breakneck speed and were encouraged by the marketplace to expect what would be considered in a more rational world inappropriately frequent promotions and salary increases. The economic downturn has slowed competition for candidates in most practices and has stalled the compensation trajectory of many in our industry. Selectivity is the watchword in hiring. Many of the perks bestowed on employees during the boom years have disappeared and have been replaced by waves of layoffs, leaving lower expectations and an increased ability to do more with less in their wake. What hasn't changed is the importance of letting employees know that their hard work and loyalty are valued, even if companies can't be as generous as they might like. Most employees may not have a wide range of options now, but once the good times roll again, they'll stampede toward their companies' doors if they feel unappreciated. From: Mike Marino To: Judith Harrison, PRWeek Subject: RE: Five years in HR Back during the boom years, PR firms were doing anything to lure and retain top talent: sign-on bonuses for college graduates, phantom stock plans for executives, and in-office massages for staff at all levels were common. Across the boards, salary levels rose, employee programs were expanded (i.e., pet health insurance), and benefits were enhanced. Many firms, unfortunately, grew too quickly and, once the economy softened, were forced to resort to layoffs in order to conform payroll to billings. Almost all firms have had to cut back in some way. (Unfortunately, only a handful of agencies still offer in-office massages!) This has resulted in salaries remaining relatively flat (raises of 2%-3% are common). In addition, hiring has slowed down significantly (helping lower turnover rates, but creating "job lock" for some staff, particularly those at the more junior levels), benefits programs have been hard-hit, and training efforts have been curtailed or, in some cases, eliminated altogether. All of this, of course, has had a negative impact on morale throughout the industry. Some agencies can be tough places to work these days. The good news is that there are PR firms that continue to build and nurture their employee cultures: APCO Worldwide was just named a Great Place to Work in Washington magazine's survey of top workplaces in DC; Fleishman-Hillard was recently named one of the best companies for working moms by Working Mother magazine; and North Carolina PR shop Capital Strategies received a best workplace award from the Triangle Business Journal. As the economy upturns, and all of this is cyclical of course, we will, inevitably, again see a return of the recruitment and retention wars. With a somewhat more mature workforce, though, instead of wanting gym memberships, "Margarita Mondays," and tuition reimbursement, candidates and employees will increasingly be pressing for work/life benefits such as on-site daycare, financial planning, and tuition reimbursement for their children. And employers will have to continue to deal with an increasing demand for flextime, part-time, telecommuting, and other alternative work arrangements. PR firms who have these issues on their radar screens now will be better positioned to attract and retain key professionals in the future, both in boon and bust times. ----- Judith Harrison SVP of Human Resources, Ruder Finn Mike Marino Independent HR consultant

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