3 Questions Featured

7:00pm EDT January 26, 2010

Jeff Leonard is the managing director of Buck Consultant LLC’s U.S. Central region as well as a consulting actuary and Cincinnati market leader. He consults with clients on strategic retirement financial management and plan design issues. As a solution architect for his clients, he helps develop executive retirement and deferred compensation plans.

Q. If a business doesn’t already consult with an outside human resources firm, why might it consider doing so now?

There are opportunities to create efficiency within organizations, and a lot of times, there is a positive return on that investment. Also, you don’t want to be caught flat-footed on changes, not only for health care reform but also looking at possible hires and company structure. You should look for an organization that doesn’t just have a sense of what the options are from only a benefits perspective or a compensation perspective but really look for someone who can help align an appropriate HR program tailored to that situation.

Q. Is it now more of a challenge to keep employees focused and motivated?

What’s happened is there aren’t a lot of jobs out there, so people are distracted for different reasons. They’re distracted because they have a lot of anxiety about whether they’re going to keep their job. Their pay might have been cut, so there’s anxiety about how that affects home life. People are distracted for different reasons than they were four or five years ago and for different reasons than they will be 18 months from now when jobs are available again. I think it’s key our clients keep the people they want from being distracted by other jobs.

Q. Is office restructure and redistribution of responsibilities perceived as more of a hindrance or as a possible road to promotion?

Five or 10 years ago, a lot of people would have seen that as a road to opportunity. But the last two years have been so unsettling that people are just kind of hanging on. People are motivated not for the next opportunity as much as they are just to keep their job.