How to talk with your team during an economic downturn

Jeffrey Fermin
July 5, 2022

In an economy that is experiencing a recession, workplace culture needs to be supportive, understanding, and internal communications have to be even more open and transparent.

There are a few key strategies that organizations should keep in mind when it comes to internal communications during a recession. And we'll go over just a few:

Establish clear communication channels

When communicating with employees, ensure that you use a variety of communication channels, and incorporate face-to-face interactions as well as written and electronic communications.

If you'd like to gain an understanding of how your organization feels as a whole, investing in an employee pulse survey system will allow for regular, anonymous feedback from employees on a variety of topics.

Paint a realistic picture in times of uncertainty

Whether it's in meetings, or written responses, leadership must paint a realistic picture when communicating with employees.

Don't try to sugarcoat the situation or downplay the severity of a recession. This will only lead to mistrust and resentment — instead, give employees as much information as possible about the current situation and what your organization is doing to weather the storm.

Recessions can be a difficult time for everyone, but being truthful will help your organization's ability to weather the storm.

Create a space for transparency.

The recession presents a unique opportunity to build trust and transparency among employees. In times of uncertainty, people tend to focus on what they think is most important—and in this case, it’s their own financial security.

Employers are no exception: when finances are tight, and layoffs may be imminent, managers can be tempted to keep information about the company under wraps for fear that it might leak out and cause others to worry about their jobs or leave prematurely.

This kind of secrecy will only breed resentment among employees who feel left out or pushed down by management decisions that go against them personally.

Instead of keeping everything confidential until after a decision has been made (whether it's good news or bad), leaders should encourage open communication throughout all stages of the process.

Openness doesn't mean sharing every detail with everyone—it simply means giving employees enough information so they know how their contributions affect things like profitability or customer satisfaction levels and how those impacts affect compensation levels for everyone involved in making those contributions happen successfully over time.

Empower staff to help each other through difficult times

In order to effectively communicate during a recession, it's important to empower your employees to help each other through difficult times.

This could involve something as simple as designating someone in each department to be the "go-to" person for questions about budget cuts or changes in company policy.

Whatever you do, make sure that your employees feel like they have the support of management and their fellow employees—this will go a long way towards maintaining a positive workplace culture during tough economic times.

Different types of resources staff can provide

Here are a few examples of different types of company resources staff can provide:

Using employee feedback management platforms for consistent check-ins

An effective way to manage employee communication during a recession is to use an employee feedback management platform. This kind of software allows for regular, anonymous check-ins with employees on various topics related to their work experience.

Not only does this give you a pulse on how your employees are feeling about the current state of the company, but it also allows you to address any issues or concerns they may have in a timely and effective manner.

It's important for leadership to be transparent with employees during a recession. This means sharing as much information as possible about the current situation and what the organization is doing to weather the storm. Additionally, leaders should empower employees to help each other through tough times.

Questions managers can ask to check-in during an economic downturn

During an economic downturn, your employees will be worried about stability, so be sure to ask them questions to not only gain insights to how they're feeling, but also enable you to make decisions on how they can feel more secure in their role. Here are a few examples of questions you could ask:

  • What challenges or concerns do you have about the current state of the company?
  • What can management do to help you feel more secure in your role?
  • What concerns do you have about the recession and its impact on your job or department?
  • What can we do to help you feel more supported during this time?
  • Is there anything you're struggling with that you need help with?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how we can improve communication or morale during this time?

Hopefully, confidently answering these questions, will boost your employees' morale.

Questions that employees might have for you during a recession

Your employees will likely have many questions for you during a recession. Here are a few examples of questions they might have:

  • What is the company's plan for weathering the storm?
  • What changes can we expect to see in the coming months?
  • Will there be any layoffs or furloughs?
  • What impact will the recession have on my job or department?
  • Is there anything I can do to help the company during this time?

Answering these questions honestly and openly will go a long way towards maintaining a positive relationship with your employees during tough economic times.

Consistent check-ins will be crucial to weathering the storm

As we mentioned before, during tough economic times it's important for leadership to be transparent with employees and to use employee feedback management platforms for regular check-ins.

Doing so will help you maintain a pulse on how your employees are feeling and allow you to address any issues or concerns in a timely and effective manner.

Additionally, consistent check-ins will help build trust between you and your employees, which is crucial during tough times. Check-ins should happen more frequently during times of uncertainty because people will be looking for reassurance about their role within your organization during challenging times like recessions.

Even during tough times, keep an open-door policy.

It can be easy to hunker down and focus only on the immediate task at hand during tough times like recessions. However, it's important to maintain an open-door policy with your employees during these times.

An open door policy makes it clear that you care about your employees and want them to feel comfortable approaching their manager for help or advice when needed. This can be especially powerful in times like these, when employees may feel insecure about their job security. An open-door policy also allows employees to feel like they can come to you with any concerns or questions they have, without feeling like they're going to be a burden. Additionally, it allows you to stay attuned to what's going on with your employees and address any issues that may arise.

It's important for managers to keep tabs on how each employee is feeling throughout this process so they can recognize if someone needs support or encouragement more than others, and then give them exactly what they need at just the right time.

Strengthen culture during tough times.

A recession is a time of great uncertainty and distress for many organizations. However, it can also be the perfect opportunity to reevaluate your company's internal communication strategies and make employee feedback one of the pillars of your company's success.

Remember, you can use a service like AllVoices to improve communication and collect employee feedback.

Remember, the key to success is knowing what your employees need during this stressful period, so that they can perform at their best and help your business recover from financial struggles (if any) sooner rather than later.

Don’t get caught off guard by employee feedback. AllVoices can help.
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