From offering a flexible work schedule to being communicative and honest, here are 15 answers to the question, “Can you recommend the best employee retention strategies while in a recession?” 



Offer a Flexible Work Schedule

Since COVID hit, there has been an uptick in the number of people for whom an 8-5 schedule doesn’t work. When employees aren’t happy, that is when they look for other opportunities. You need to make the work environment as enjoyable as possible; you need every reason for employees to choose you over another employer. 


A flexible schedule is a trend that I see continuing and expanding in 2023. At my company, we have people who come in around 9 and work until 6, and others who work 4 days a week and do 12 hours a day. We found you need to be as flexible with people’s life schedules to gain talent and retain employees. We hear from our employees all the time that they are grateful to have a flexible schedule, and the flexible schedule has helped us keep our employees.


Evan McCarthy, President & CEO, SportingSmiles


Refine Your Company Culture

Recessions are a perfect time to refine your company culture. One of the best ways to keep your best employees happy is to tailor your company’s work-life balance to suit their needs. 


During a recession, it’s easy to get caught up in the number of hours that your employees are working, but instead of focusing on that, shift your focus to the quality of work that they are producing.


If your employees are working fewer hours and producing a high-quality product, then there is no need to meddle with their process. However, if you see a dip in quality, then it may be time to look at your scheduling practices and see how you can adjust to accommodate your employees’ needs. If your company culture is one that prioritizes work-life balance, then your employees will be more likely to reciprocate that sentiment.


Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely


Ensure You Have Well-Defined Goals

I believe having your objectives written out makes it easier to discuss them. It can aid workers in keeping track of their daily responsibilities without overwhelming them with all the little things that crop up as they work on various projects. 


Managers have a responsibility to set clear expectations for their staff by providing them with goals and regular feedback on their performance. It’s crucial that they grasp the significance of various factors and the role that their efforts play in the grand scheme of things. 


Your staff may get dissatisfied if they aren’t given clear direction. If you want to hire people during a recession, you need to clearly define each position’s expectations. A new franchise seller, for instance, would do well to train employees in the franchise acquisition process.


Edward Mellett, Co-Founder, Wikijob


Recognize Your Team Members 

Your employees may not be ready to quit their jobs during a recession because they’re nervous about the risks associated with leaving. But if they stay and decide to throw in the towel? That might be even worse. 


So if you want to retain talent and keep them engaged during a recession, make sure you recognize the work they are doing. Celebrate their wins, their efforts, and how they contribute on a day-to-day basis. You’ll see a direct impact on retention and on how they feel about being at work.


Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity

Conduct Stay Interviews

Stay interviews can be powerful strategies to help retain talent in tough times. Communication is always the best way to combat the effects of a recession; people want to feel heard. You will create a much better workplace culture by listening to your employees’ concerns and implementing changes when necessary. 


Leaders who become active listeners and engage in stay interviews with their team in times of recession will be much better equipped to keep their employees happy and on the job. These conversations help you get a better view of the workplace from your employees’ perspective, and you can solve many problems before it’s too late. 


Stay interviews are also a great way to identify employees’ career goals and aspirations, which you can use to provide opportunities for professional development and growth. This will help keep team employees motivated and engaged and reduce the likelihood of them seeking opportunities elsewhere.


Anthony Martin, Founder & CEO, Choice Mutual


Actively Celebrate Staff Achievements

During recessions, it’s not just senior leadership that can feel uneasy about their roles. All staff may be worried about their future in the business, and it’s up to senior leadership to show that their staff is valued and that the work they do is recognized. 


Making sure that you actively celebrate staff achievements is a great way to boost retention during times of economic hardship, particularly if you can provide bespoke rewards which will reflect positively on the business as well.


Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks


Provide Termination Compensation

In my personal experience, one of the best strategies for employee retention during a recession is offering termination compensation packages. Termination compensations are excellent because they show employees that their hard work and commitment are appreciated and that companies understand the financial burden of loss of opportunities because of downsizing. 


By providing employee termination compensations, companies can show that their loyalty to their staff is genuine and that even in tough economic times, the company is working to retain employees who have valuable skills and experience. 


This type of compensation empowers employees to remain with the company while continuing their career growth. It also helps preserve job security during economically challenging periods; something I am certainly grateful for!


Rosmy Barrios, Director, Health Reporter

Be Proactive About Addressing Concerns

A lot of employees are worried about their jobs during recession fears. Many of these have something akin to PTSD from the layoffs during the recent pandemic and the Great Recession of 2008—and rightfully so. 


Instead of brushing these worries under the rug, acknowledge that people are worried and be transparent about your plan for weathering the recession. One recruiting company I work with saw this happening during the pandemic and set up monthly all-hands meetings to discuss the state of the company with all employees. Their CFO was honest about the fact that if things got terrible, they might need to consider furloughs or even layoffs. 


Then he explained what he meant by terrible and which metrics he was tracking to make these decisions. These were metrics like the number of new job starts. He then shared these metrics with all employees on a monthly basis to foster trust and a joint understanding of where the firm was heading.


Atta Tarki, Founder & Author, ECA Partners

Involve Employees in the Conversation

Recessions are a great time to boost employee retention strategies. One strategy is to improve employee training and development. For managers, it benefits everyone to improve their employee coaching and communication skills. For employees, it is a superior time to enlist their ideas on how to weather a recession. 


Often, these two recommendations are synergistic. For example, one organization we served discovered that instead of laying off employees, job sharing with some time cutbacks balanced the budget well. The leaders discovered many employees opted for part-time, others planned sabbaticals, and others took maternity leave. Nearly everyone returned to full-time employment when the economy turned around. 


The advantages included: the work culture was already understood; values were in known alignment; and relationships were already built. It made the corporate sprint to recover from a recession that much easier and quicker to do.


Dianne Crampton, President, TIGERS Success Series


Practice Quality Hiring

Retention is just as much about hiring the right person as it is about keeping the ones you have. During a recession, your hiring practices shouldn’t become lax. If you are simply hiring to fill a role, the professional that you will hire won’t be a solid match for the role you need to fill. Even if you come across someone with the skills you need, they may only work with a temporary mindset while waiting for something better to come along. 


Instead of churning through employees while trying to incentivize them to stay around, focus on hiring exactly the person you need for exactly what they want. Be clear on the job role, responsibilities, and compensation. This way, those who hire are going to be candidates who know what they’re walking into. 


From there, the focus should be purely on finding the best match out of a bunch. Odds are, your business already does this when hiring. Keep at it; a recession is not a reason to get sloppy. Hire well and retention will be easier.


Neel Shah, Founder, EZ Newswire


Emphasize Coaching

Experts often cite the opportunity for professional growth as a motivating factor for workers to look for alternative employment. Providing the tools necessary for success is a wonderful approach to keep people motivated over the long haul, since no one wants to waste years of their life on a career that won’t lead anywhere. 


Employees’ self-assurance is boosted, and they can take action when coaching programs are implemented. Since employees like to stay in places where they feel appreciated, this employee retention method could prove especially useful during a recession. The financial and emotional returns from investing in your current staff by helping them develop skills for promotion are substantial.


Timothy Allen, Sr. Corporate Investigator, Corporate Investigation Consulting


Show Your Employees You Care About Them

To keep employees around during a recession, the best strategy is to show them you care about them as people. Many people feel that they have to work harder when the economy is less than ideal, but this can actually be counterproductive. 


Employees who feel like they’re working more than they should be will resent their job and their employer, and this can lead to higher turnover rates. A better way to deal with the stress of a recession is by communicating with your employees about the impact it has on everyone-including you-and how it affects the company’s overall resources. 


By making sure everyone knows what’s going on straightforwardly, you’ll instill a sense of trust and transparency that will help your employees feel more secure.


Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP, Strategy & Growth, Resume Worded


Survey Employees for Satisfaction Levels 

In our company, we believe our employees are our first customers, so we place a high value on their well-being. With that said, we conduct an employee satisfaction survey twice a year. 


This practice aims to identify which areas in their work life we can improve on since, as remote employees, we do not see them in person. This also aims to determine if the current salary matrix is enough to cover their living costs humanely. Employee satisfaction surveys basically give us a glimpse of what the company can do to improve their well-being since we believe that motivated and happy employees will lead to a more successful company.


Jeff Moore, CEO, Everyday Power


If You Can’t Give Raises, Increase Equity

Many companies have slashed their budgets heading into 2023, making it hard to recognize employees with a salary increase. Instead of promising raises in 2024 and hoping employees are loyal enough to stick around, companies should increase their employee equity pool. This saves companies money in the short term while rewarding those employees who want to invest in the long-term growth of the company.


Julian Schaaf, Head of Marketing, Gomada 


Support Great Communication, Tell the Truth

The best retention strategy during a recession is great communication. Employees will receive all kinds of messages about the economy from whatever outlets they follow. The best thing any organization can do is control the narrative of how the recession will affect their business and, ultimately, their people. 


Employers need to deliver regular updates that are honest and authentic, so employees look internally for information first. Give employees an outlet to ask questions and answer them. While the news may not always be positive, employees will know it’s the truth, which is meaningful. 


Our recent survey of frontline workers shows a strong correlation between trust in one’s manager/organization and an employee’s intent to stay longer at their current company. Hiding bad news or being vague creates anxiety and mistrust, leading employees to seek new employment. Communication is the most powerful tool an organization has to improve the employee experience and build loyalty.


Amy Jenkins, Director of Client Strategy & Success, theEMPLOYEEapp


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