Managing employees during economic uncertainty

November 7, 2022

There's a definite possibility of a recession in the very near future. Some economists say it's already here. Either way, there is one certainty: We live in an exceptionally economically uncertain time. From the economic crash that followed the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic to the post-pandemic boom, the economy has been through major highs and devastating lows. It also shows no sign of stabilizing any time soon.

Understandably, this is concerning for both employers and employees alike. Business leaders may be struggling with the likelihood of having to downscale their workforce, and workers are concerned they may lose their jobs. If you don't plan on laying off staff, it's essential that you implement robust management strategies to keep your teams calm and productive.

Here are some ways in which you can help your staff cope during these tough times:

Communicate clearly and openly

Nothing sparks panic quite like being in the proverbial dark. As BuiltIn notes, you need to be honest about the company's status and any changes you might need to make so that your workers don't get anxious. Whether you need to adjust budgets and salaries or change locations, make sure you keep your staff in the loop.

Also, remember that communication is a two-way street: Reassure your staff that they're welcome to raise any concerns with management without fear of reprisal. If you don't have answers to their questions, let them know you'll work on determining them as soon as possible (and then follow through on that promise).

Hold one-on-one meetings

While it's all good and well to send updates through company-wide emails, it's important to remember that each worker will be affected differently by business decisions. Therefore, as Zapier explains, you should strive to organize personal catch-ups with every staff member to discuss their worries or any changing duties on an individual level.

During these appointments, you must listen closely to provide solutions to any problems they might be encountering or address any reservations they may have. Bear in mind that this kind of dialogue requires a high level of trust on the employee's part, so don't be forceful in your approach, and be kind and compassionate during every interaction and conversation.

Adjust your expectations

Key performance indicators are typically set a year (or at least a financial quarter or two) in advance, and roles and responsibilities are usually set in stone before the employee even signs a contract. That means modifying any of these can be difficult. However, most companies typically won't have a choice but to rework positions and tasks in response to the changing economic landscape.

As part of these adaptations, you may need to alter your short-term and long-term goals for your staff. Make sure your forecasts are realistic and take all factors — both current and hypothetical — into account. Potential changes can include increasing or decreasing sales projections, putting certain projects on hold or starting new ones and taking on or ending partnerships, all of which will affect your employees.