The economic turbulence has caused anxiety among many business insiders. In an increasingly competitive business environment, human resources (HR) professionals need to seek out the best way to preserve the old and recruit the new, and tackle unusual challenges with effort and efficiency. Classified Post asks two HR professionals what challenging tasks they expect to face this year. 'In a recent poll by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, (HKIHRM), HR professionals voted the following as the top four challenges - cost control, managing change, business sustainability and talent management. With less budget and resources at their disposal, being able to attract, retain and motivate talent is challenging for HR professionals. Laying off staff should be the last resort as it reduces competitiveness in the long term. Other cost saving options, such as deploying flexible resources, headcount freeze, salary freeze, outsourcing, and reduction or deferral of non-essential expenditure, should be considered. Companies may choose to stop all talent intake, and learning and development activities to cut costs. However, they should retain and develop the core group. Those who invest in talent have a much better capability of rebounding and winning the competition when the economy picks up again.' 'Most organisations tend to focus on cost-cutting measures when a general mood of gloom prevails. However, those that can also manage growth and performance in a strategic manner will be quicker to sail through the tough times and recover. The challenges for HR this year will be to identify and retain the best and critical talent, and motivate them through engagement, performance and career planning interventions. An economic downturn could be an opportunity to review staff benefits programmes, making sure that they are cost-effective and have the greatest impact on business results. Even amid the uncertainty, organisations should continue to invest in critical sales activities and related workforce.'