Talent Strategy at Thomas Cook during Downturn

Talent Strategy at Thomas Cook during Downturn
Recession poses the unique challenges to the Human Resource department. Investments in human capital during this time are often not a high priority for companies whose very survival is threatened by the global downturn.

In the last two years, the global economy grappled with the most severe and unprecedented pandemic.  The biggest challenge for companies in this situation was to survive and remain competitive. All organizations big and small looked at various models and methods to tide over the crisis and reorganized and reengineered their processes. Recession poses the unique challenges to the Human Resource department. Investments in human capital during this time are often not a high priority for companies whose very survival is threatened by the global downturn.

Each time there is a recession, it creates the need for HR Practitioners to take a fresh look at the existing organizational models. The purpose of the Human Resource Management team is to make sure that an organization is able to perform well through its existing resources, but also to increase the efficiency and capability of the business. It also helps the business to reach its goals by using the resources available to their optimum. Human Resource Management is one of the most important factors that, in any organization plays an important role as a change agent during a period of recession. They assist senior management during the recession period to make changes that have a positive impact on the culture and the bottom line.

Often processes that work well during normal times need to be tweaked to handle the VUCA environment. A recession provides an opportunity for organizations to relook at existing processes and policies and introduce some new ways to make them more agile and effective.

One of the first processes affected by a recession is the recruitment and selection policy. The change in the environment and the workforce are massively affected by the recession. The recruitment and selection process involves making advance decisions and predictive analysis about the business so that decisions are made on how the teams can increase the performance of an organization. The recruitment freeze is usually the first senior management decision when the sales numbers go down. As the senior management wants to keep the cash flow under the control, the recruitment freeze is the first logical decision.

Recessions happen because labour grows scarce and wages climb, which prompts businesses to ease back on hiring. When there is an increase in the cost of the workforce, there is a need to look at the hiring mix. It is imperative that the organizations look at the workforce pyramid and define the mix of professionals who are needed for the organization to achieve its goals. This mix can be divided into three main categories – Freshers who are at the bottom of the pyramid, Mid-level professionals who have grown in the organization, and Leadership who is responsible to lead the organization. Usually, the freshers are hired from Campus while mid-level professionals and leaders either have grown in the organization or are hired as laterals.

Freshers do not come to you with skyrocketing salary expectations. They are also full of ideas and eager to learn. For companies with tight budgets, freshers are the more economically sound choice. Freshers are waiting for an opportunity to learn and grow. They are hardworking, driven, and – since they are fresh out of college – a lot more disciplined and receptive to training. This helps them learn quickly on the job. Additionally, millennials and Gen Z are expert multi-taskers, so they can handle numerous responsibilities much better. Often, freshers are found to be technologically sound, and a detailed training manual and induction presentations are often enough to help them hit the ground running.

At Thomas Cook, one of the best policies we adopted is to increase the fresher headcount significantly. We defined a Thomas Cook Graduate Management Programme and recruited skilled individuals directly from colleges as well as through social media on an all-India basis. Based on the qualifications we have designed three programs:

  • Thomas Cook Graduate Trainee Program (TCGTP)
  • Thomas Cook Executive Trainee Program (TCETP)
  • Thomas Cook Management Trainee Program (TCMTP)

These bright young minds are now part of our high-performing teams and contribute to the organization’s goals. All the freshers go through a mandatory induction program that provides them with knowledge and skills which will help them deliver their future roles effectively. In addition, they are given functional knowledge based on the team to which they are being allocated. The behavioural inputs given during the training program include inputs on clarity of thought, communication, negotiation skills, adaptability, creativity, eye for detail, spontaneity, and number crunching.

“Ultimately delivering strategy is about hiring the right people and motivating them to deliver results” – Helen Schubert. At the Thomas Cook Group, we believe that people are key to our business. Therefore, we focus on attracting, nurturing, and retaining the best-in-class talent for our business. It is our dedicated and experienced talent that helps us deliver an exceptional customer experience to all our clients!


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