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Employee Engagement & Retention During an Economic Downturn

48 Best Practices to Reduce Turnover & Increase Employee Satisfaction

Many organizations are finding themselves faced with the uncertainty of an economic downturn and rising inflation. This guide highlights many of our best practices in employee engagement and retention to help you improve the employee experience in 2024. Topics like:

    • Employee turnover and retention
    • Recognition program budgeting
    • Service awards
    • Authentic leadership
    • Communication
    • Employee feedback
  • Reporting and metrics

  • and many, many more!

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Employee Engagement & Retention
During an Economic Downturn

48 BEST PRACTICES  to Reduce Turnover & Increase Employee Satisfaction


1. Hiring
Hiring the right people is ground zero for decreasing turnover rates. And with the high cost of hiring new talent post-COVID — Harvard Business School estimates it can take up to six months to break even on a new hire investment — it’s critical to get it right the first time.

Best Practice Icons_Gold Best PracticesRecruit candidates that are a good fit not only for the job description itself, but also to fit the company and team culture. You’re not just hiring warm bodies to meet a quota, you’re bringing a new member into the work community and culture.

2) Turnover
According to Garner, turnover in the U.S. is likely to jump nearly 20% in 2022, from a pre-COVID annual average of 31.9 million employees to 37.4 million. With 48% of the workforce actively seeking new job opportunities, getting to the root cause of why employees quit is critical. The top reasons for turnover: absence of career growth, lack of purpose, poor and/or inflexible management, inadequate compensation, toxic work culture and diversity deficiencies. Google it, this information is everywhere.

Best Practice Icons_Gold Best PracticesTalk to your employees and really listen to their issues. Understand the employee experience by practicing empathy and understanding. If employees want more flexibility in their current situation, try to accommodate them. If you find out why they’re unhappy, be willing to make adjustments. If you take the hard line of “this is how it’s always been done,” you’ll lose your workforce to other companies that will be happy to accommodate them.

3) Feedback
Many people leave their jobs because they don’t feel their voices are being heard. A recent Healthy Organization Research Report found that only 13% of companies actually survey their workforce to understand their needs, and only 18% attempt to actively manage and optimize workloads in order to remove stress.

Best Practice Icons_Gold Best PracticesSolicit feedback and collect preferences from all employees and provide clear communication paths where employees can give and receive feedback without fear of being punished or ostracized. And, when employees do provide honest feedback, listen to them and take action. Inspirus Connects provides an Employee Voice feature that collects feedback on how employees think, feel and behave, so organizations can make cultural adjustments and improvements.

4) Promotions
The fastest and easiest way to lose loyal workers is to hire outside the company as opposed to promoting from within. Doing this sends a signal to current employees that you don’t value the contributions they’ve made to your company, causing them to look elsewhere for advancement.

Best Practice Icons_Gold Best PracticesPromote from within — you already have a candidate who is a part of your culture and has an understanding of how the organization works. Promoting from within is cost-effective and it leads to happier, more productive, and more loyal employees. It’s a win-win.

5) Diversity
Diversity should play an important role in the recruiting, hiring, and promotion process in your organization. It is a proven fact that companies with more diversity end up being more successful. Plus, more people — especially Millennials and Gen-X’ers — want to work in a diverse environment.

Best Practice Icons_Gold Best PracticesCreate a dynamic and inclusive culture so that your workforce – all five generations of them – feel welcomed and valued. One of the ways Inspirus does this is through the use of gender pronouns.

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6) Anxiety
There’s much talk about the “new normal” and what that means to different organizations. Employees have high levels of anxiety and stress, especially around returning to work, working remotely, and pondering the combination of hybrid work. Gallup reports that stress among workers is at an all-time high: 44% of employees surveyed experienced stress “a lot of the previous day.”

Best Practice Icons_Warm Red Best PracticesCommunicate with transparency how work will get done within your organization. By sharing the reasoning behind the decision, employees feel respected, included and that their contribution to the success of the organization is valued. This promotes community within the culture of your organization and reduces employee stress. “We’re all in this, together” provides comfort.

7) Authenticity
Relatable leaders gain loyal followers. When leaders are communicating with their workforce, they must be relatable, tapping into real situations and revealing real emotions. Forbes confirms that straightforward, truthful messages that include the leader’s personality go a long way towards creating meaningful connections.

Best Practice Icons_Warm Red Best PracticesEncourage company executives to communicate with their workforce on a more emotional level. Those who use their intuition and personal experiences are better able to establish solid connections with their employees, bringing down barriers, deepening loyalty and building a culture of trust.

8) Empathy
Empathetic listening is the holy grail of communication. A study conducted by Development Dimension International (DDI) determined that empathy is the greatest single leadership skill a manager can possess. Listening with empathy and compassion is more important than ever, especially after everyone has collectively gone through the isolation and trauma of a global pandemic.

Best Practice Icons_Warm Red Best PracticesExercise empathetic listening, especially within senior management. When employees are really listened to, they not only feel heard, but they also feel seen. This makes them feel appreciated, more like a true part of the company, which inspires and motivates them.

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9) Onboarding
When new employees join your team, you want to make sure they have all the tools and resources needed to acclimate to their new role. An effective onboarding experience is especially necessary for remote employees. When the onboarding experience is not positive, new hires are 2X as likely to quit their job compared to those who have a good onboarding experience.

Best Practice Icons_Berry Best PracticesEnsure all employees, no matter where they sit, have reliable technology, easy access to software, dial-in codes and any cloud-based platforms so that they can find necessary documents and interact with their team, managers and clients seamlessly.

10) Communication
It’s startling to find that nearly 70% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. Communication is a key component to any employee relationship, especially when an employee is onboarding or taking on additional responsibilities.

Best Practice Icons_Berry Best PracticesSchedule regular 1:1 meetings with each employee either in-person or via video. If the meeting can’t be in person, make it as close to a face-to-face conversation as possible. When managers avoid communicating in general, including giving feedback, offering praise or providing direction, they’re not helping the employee, nor the bottom line, grow.

11) Connection
It’s important that remote employees not only connect with their direct manager or supervisor, but also their team members and fellow co-workers throughout the company. Staying connected — especially through comfortable methods and with frequency — helps employees beat the feeling of being removed from daily workplace interactions, which helps build stronger bonds.

Best Practice Icons_Berry Best PracticesOffer several communication options for employees — text, email, instant message or voice — as they may prefer different channels depending on the situation, what information they are sharing or their generational preferences.

12) Inclusion
Remote employees often feel disconnected and isolated. As organizations continue to embrace remote work options, it will also become necessary to ensure remote employees not only feel a sense of belonging within their team but also are engaged and included in an organization’s culture. Technology tools like Inspirus Connects were developed to promote inclusion, providing accessibility to all employees.

Best Practice Icons_Berry Best PracticesTo fully integrate all employees into your culture — including remote employees — give them the opportunity to participate in your organization’s social and team building events. This sends a message that they are valued members of your organization, creates a cohesive culture and truly makes every member feel like a part of the team.

13) Personalities
Understanding introvert and extrovert personality traits is vital in employee relationship management. Both extrovert and introvert personalities bring unique attributes that benefit the workplace, however there are characteristics that are more associated with each personality type. Generally speaking, extroverts are revitalized by spending time with others, whereas introverts recharge through taking some time for themselves.

Best Practice Icons_Berry Best PracticesTake the time to get to know your employees’ personal preferences, especially surrounding recognition. For example, an introvert may be more comfortable with being acknowledged for a large accomplishment in front of their team, as opposed to the entire company during a meeting (whereas some extroverts might be thrilled with the latter option). When you validate their achievements in a way that makes them feel valued and understood, their engagement rises and loyalty deepens.

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