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Retention Ideas in a Recession | Pennsylvania Benefits Agency

Employee engagement is the top priority of respondents to HR Exchange Network’s latest State of HR survey. Obviously, employers are keen to engage employees to increase productivity and retention. However, the economic downturn and inflation is complicating matters, and Human Resources leaders are seeking new ways to reach talent.

Recently, Eric Mochnacz, strategic senior HR leader and Director of Operations at Red Clover, shared his ideas about how to move forward and keep morale up, even in lean times. Here’s what he had to say:

HREN: First of all, do you think employees are going to continue with the leverage that they have? Or is that going to shift again?

EM: We’ve argued that it’s a job seekers market. Job candidates and employees can demand more. I think job seekers are more in the driver’s seat. However, they will probably come to future employers with more reasonable expectations. Recently, I got into it on LinkedIn with an individual who was honest. He said that if you were in talent acquisition, and you were making x amount of dollars, you have to be realistic about what some of these companies are willing to offer you. You may need to take a salary cut.

Obviously, we want people to feel like they are paid their worth. But I think what happened – and this is true for many of our clients – is they were getting people stolen from them because these companies were just throwing an exorbitant amount of money to win talent. That’s where a lot of people got burned.

Employees and job seekers will have the opportunity to say, ‘Listen, I still want remote work. I still want flexible scheduling. I think that’s still a good negotiating point for people. I think where employers will get savvier is that they will not throw money at job candidates like they did before. They’re going to be a little more conservative. Job seekers will have more realistic expectations about what they’re going to be able to find. If you’re from Meta or Twitter, when you think about becoming a software engineer at a 10- to 15-person firm, you must realize that they probably cannot afford what Meta and Twitter were able to provide.

However, we tell our tech clients to remind people that they will have a constant stream of customers, so they can offer job security. That’s the difference.

HREN: What are some of the best practices for employee engagement to keep productivity and morale up?

EM: It’s critical that how they communicate from this point on with employees helps them understand their standing in the organization. There’s been a lot of hot takes, and I’ve participated in some about how Elon Musk handled Twitter versus how Mark Zuckerberg handled Facebook.

If the company ultimately believes that the decisions they make will right set the organization, and they don’t think they’re going to need to make any layoffs in the near future, HR should say, ‘Listen, this was why we did X, Y, and Z. We think we will be successful in addressing the problem. We are relatively confident that we won’t need to do another round of layoffs.’ Again, nothing is ever guaranteed. I also think it probably requires HR leaders to get a little more face time with employees.

There’s probably this pervasive feeling of I’m doing more with less, and I’m not going to have the opportunity to find someone to relieve some of the work pressure. So, what are we doing? What’s the company doing? What are we doing to look forward? HR – I hope it’s part of the strategic leadership team – should be able to adequately respond to those questions. They must be able to listen and say, ‘So, you’re saying that you’ve now taken on the work of two other people, because we let them go? The solution to this problem is that we need to show your value. We don’t want to lose you.’

What needs to happen? I think it’s just more intentional communication with the remaining workforce, helping them feel valued, really listening to what they have to say. Then, you must use that to develop strategy into Q1 and Q2. Continue to communicate that effectively. Say, ‘We can’t hire more people now, but if things adjust, we might be able to do so in the next quarter.’

By Francesca Di Meglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

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