An Economic Slowdown Doesn’t Have to Slow Your Growth

With an imminent recession looming, and a labor shortage still favoring applicants, it’s a challenging time for hiring managers and positions of leadership. Strategies for retention, boosting the skills of committed employees, and careful talent acquisition will help to make this time easier.

If you’re leading your company’s hiring or management, you may be wondering how to navigate these roles during uncertain economic times. Although daunting, it is possible to prepare for skill gaps, labor budget cuts, and downsizing in a recession without drastically sacrificing your valuable team members or reducing necessary hires.

Stay Calm and Think Long Term

Work with other senior staff to decide or confirm whether long-term strategies and goals have adjusted and focus efforts on moving forward. Many organizations wish to take advantage of recessions by making efforts to grow and overtake the competition when others’ may be acting more conservatively. Conversely, if your company is predicting massive challenges, and acts very quickly in the short term, even more damage to morale, operations, and productivity may be done. Determine whether hiring freezes may be a helpful preventative short term measure if some departments can manage temporarily without team growth.

Manage Morale

Your team may be stressed about the economy in general, or about losing work through layoffs, smaller bonuses, or slowing their career paths for raises and promotions. As leaders and managers, ensure open and honest communication about the company’s ongoing changes to keep morale high. Layoffs may be unavoidable, depending on your business or industry. If your employees’ jobs may be at stake, make sure to communicate ahead of time how the organization will inform affected teams, and whether they will receive early retirement offers or severance packages. Show support and gratitude to remaining employees in their reduced teams especially if the workload is now distributed amongst them differently, and remind them that this season of change will not last forever. 

Assess Existing Skills

If your team is in need of certain types of skilled work, look within before hiring. Assess and identify the gaps in skills or experience your organization needs. Skills gap analysis can of course guide hiring efforts, but also creates opportunities for internal development, which in turn boosts morale and loyalty. It’s always going to be more cost-effective to develop the skills and education of existing employees, rather than hiring new full time employees.

Outsource Gaps Mindfully

If offering skill development to your existing employees isn’t an option, consider filling gaps through remote workers, contractors, or part time employees. Some data suggests that remote workers can cost thousands of dollars less per year than in-person roles based on the savings in operational expenses and compensation expectations. Short-term contractors can fulfill services and workloads then be written off, and part time employees do not require the same level of benefits packages as full time staff. In my experience, sourcing talent through these methods can support long term growth as well as hiring full time employees becomes feasible once again. 

As you manage your team and fill hiring gaps during this time, these strategies for morale boosting, professional development, and long-term vision will help to smooth this transition period.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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