The Next Downturn Will Be Different: Here Is How to Respond

By Rick Pastore and Michel Janssen
August 30, 2022
Season 3, Episode 31

Rick Pastore, Senior Director, Technology Research Advisor and Michel Janssen, Chief Market Intelligence Officer discuss how companies can more effectively respond to the current downturn, including issues such as inflation and recession, geopolitical turmoil, and the shrinking labor supply.


Show Notes

Welcome to The Hackett Group’s “Business Excelleration Podcast,” where week after week we hear from experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours and celebrate milestones on the journey to world-class performance. This episode, hosted by Gary Baker, Group Global Communications director at The Hackett Group, highlights an unprecedented threat in the workplace. In this episode, Gary is joined by Rick Pastore, senior research director and IT advisor at The Hackett Group. Also joining the show is Michel Janssen who serves as the chief market intelligence officer at The Hackett Group. Listen as Gary, Rick, and Michel discuss an emerging threat and opportunity facing businesses: the shrinking of the workforce.

The conversation begins as Michel explains his interest in this problem. Various threats we face include inflation, a recession, and geopolitical turmoil such as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, along with turmoil in China. Michel says that these are not without precedent. The business world has faced and overcome similar problems in the past. Creating the perfect storm, however, is a new challenge; something unprecedented. We are facing the shrinking of the workforce. Michel explains that this is going to create a different set of dynamics, which we’ve never seen before.

This fourth threat undermines the strategies normally used to deal with the first three threats. It is a challenge for all. It is said that policymakers can’t simply print new workers. Typical mitigation of the first three problems requires a strong workforce. Without workers, issues of inflation, recession, and turmoil are amplified. Businesses cannot delay spending. They must invest in agility. Boosting salaries is important but could make inflation more severe. What can be done?

After painting a picture of the problem, Gary, Rick, and Michel discuss alternative strategies that are more likely to work. This is not only a challenge; it’s an opportunity. Michel explains that automation is a big part of the solution. Companies must be able to enable and engage anywhere, and present opportunities to work from anywhere. Considering the robust populations of India and Africa, the employer discovers new opportunities for the workforce. This will re-quire companies becoming more agile, which includes automating every transaction and developing new technologies to make the workforce and customers more productive. Upgrading to the cloud allows for remote work, as well as redirecting the roles of previous workers, freeing them toward innovation and greater productivity.

Discover the actions that businesses should take now to wrestle with this issue, as well as tips on retaining current workers. As the episode concludes, key takeaways are offered on how to thrive in this new normal as companies are transformed, using data which unlocks smarter work and building brands which attract talent. This problem is not only a challenge; it’s an opportunity.


  • 01:30 – The shrinking worker supply is an unprecedented threat facing the workplace.
  • 03:35 – How the shrinking worker supply disrupts strategies to deal with other threats.
  • 06:15 – Why policymakers won’t have good options facing the workforce demand.
  • 07:40 – Typical mitigation moves that are unlikely to work as well as they have in the past.
  • 09:50 – Alternative strategies that are more likely to work within the new crisis.
  • 13:35 – The benefit of automation investments as a core strategy.
  • 14:45 – The benefit of going all in on the cloud as a core strategy.
  • 16:00 – Actions one can take now to best mitigate this issue.
  • 18:25 – How to retain people you already have through flexibility, culture and compensation.
  • 22:15 – Key takeaways from this episode.