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How to Attract Retain and Motivate Employees During a Recession

January 5, 2023

Throughout 2022, retaining employees, motivating staff and attracting new talent were all concerns for senior leaders and HR professionals. And by the looks of things, that's not going to change any time soon. 

As energy prices rise, the cost of living soars and the talk of a recession looms, attracting, retaining and motivating staff is still as important as ever.

Attracting, retaining and motivating employees became a priority in 2022, with the great resignation and quiet quitting movement causing staff turnover to increase. With the prospect of an economic downturn, motivating staff, reducing turnover, and remaining competitive in recruitment are all expected to continue as major priorities in 2023. 

During an economic downturn, traditional monetary incentives are a no-go. Employers can no longer rely on bonuses, pay increases and promotions to attract, retain and motivate their employees. So what can they do? 


Here are our 9 key tips on how to attract, retain and motivate employees during a recession or economic downturn


Communicate with employees 


Communicating with your staff the right way can bring great benefits. Clear and transparent communication with employees helps improve employer-employee relationships, staff engagement, and retention. Honest communication with employees is vital, especially when the external environment seems unclear and unpredictable. 

Communicating with staff can reduce barriers and improve relationships. Employees that are listened to feel valued and are more satisfied and more likely to stay at your organisation when times are tough. Communicating with staff the right way can help employers understand what employees need, how to improve their work life and how to keep employees happy. 

The best way to communicate and understand your employees is by using an employee engagement survey. These surveys can help employers uncover and solve problems before they lead to staff turnover within the organisation. 


Build a culture of feedback 


Effective communication needs effective feedback. When communicating with employees, take in what they say and give transparent and honest feedback back to your team. Workplace feedback is something organisations generally lack. Building a culture of feedback can help build relationships, improve morale and create a welcoming work environment. It can also help to build employees' trust in an organisation and make them feel like they are part of the team.


Recognition Matters!


The best way to attract, retain and motivate employees is to build a recognition program that works. An effective employee recognition program keeps staff engaged, happy and motivated whilst making your organisation attractive to future candidates. Appreciating your employees and their work is the best way to show employees how much you value them as team members. 

Employees can receive recognition in several ways, from one-to-one private recognition to public recognition via social recognition software, which allows employees to give and receive recognition amongst team members all in one place. 


Prioritise workplace wellness 


Employees have dealt with a lot this past couple of years. The cost of living crisis, Covid and now fears of economic uncertainty have left employees' welfare at an all-time low.  

Economic downfall has a significant influence on morale and mental health, with stresses outside of work finding their way into the workplace. Employees will have concerns about their financial position and job security on top of their everyday workload and deadlines. The build-up of stress can lead to employees facing serious mental health issues and experiencing burnout. 

Now is the time to introduce workplace wellness programs to support employees in navigating through challenging times. Wellness programs help employees focus on their mental, physical and mental wellbeing. 


Offer the right benefits 


In 2022, employee benefits were valued by employees as equally as increased salaries or one-time bonuses. Employees value the benefits and, therefore, the organisation for providing them. Offering the best employee benefits can help to motivate and satisfy employees and attract new ones. Discount schemes became the benefit of choice during 2022 as employers supported staff with the cost of living crisis. Now with talks of a recession, the cost-saving employee benefit is expected to maintain its popularity.

Benefits can help to retain staff too, but employers must adapt and improve their benefit offering every now and again to retain employees. Organisations must also combine employee benefits with effective communication, as employers must listen to what their employees want to continue motivating them.


attract retain and motivate employees during economic downturn


Be flexible 


Employees' work priorities have changed over the years from focusing on money to finding a work-life balance. So much so that over 80% of employees prefer hybrid working or working from home full time. 

Finding that perfect work-life balance has helped hybrid and remote workers to achieve the highest job satisfaction leading to more motivated and engaged staff. A WFH policy offers great benefits to those employees who can tackle their work from home. From saving money on a commute to a better working/family life, WFH offers great benefits to employee motivation, engagement and work performance. 

Offering hybrid and remote work will keep organisations competitive when hiring new staff. With so many businesses offering flexible working, you could miss out on hiring top talent and losing talented team members to more flexible organisations. 


Don't forget about internal progression!


Promotions are one of the biggest motivators for employees. Employers with strong internal hiring opportunities see higher satisfaction and reduced turnover. Employers must present staff with big ambitions with the opportunity to grow, or they will simply leave. 

With pay rises, bonuses, and other incentives off the table, building internal progression can help keep staff motivated and keen to remain in the organisation. Employers often lose their best talent to more progressive organisations without offering the chance to progress. 


Training programs 


Education and training are one of the most sought-after benefits for employees. Employees can develop their personal and practical skills with training courses. Training programs and courses benefit both the employee and the business as they bring new skills to the table. The opportunity to learn can also keep employees engaged and motivated to improve within the organisation. 

When attracting employees, your businesses must stand out from the crowd. And without relying on higher salaries or big bonuses, employers must find other ways to capture new recruits. The incentive to develop skills can engage many and help to attract hungry employees looking to educate and better themselves. Similar to internal progression, the more you invest in your people, the more you will get back. 




When your organisation aspires to grow, employees will follow. With job markets becoming increasingly competitive, employees are judging their future employers on much more than salary and holiday days. 

Employees are beginning to take an interest in the company's ambitions, what they want to achieve and how much they want to grow. Showing potential candidates your organisation's ambitious nature displays the type of environment they will be joining and helps you stand out from competitors. 


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Finding ways to attract, retain and motivate employees is a challenge for every business, especially with talks of economic uncertainty. But getting it right can significantly benefit employees' wellbeing and an organisation's success. Find out how 360 recognition can help you attract top talent, motivate your team and retain your best employees.