How to Keep Your Employees Happy in a Recession (Without a Salary Increase)

The numbers show that there is inflation typical in a recession. Keeping your employees happy without increasing their salaries is hard but doable. Here’s how.

How to Keep Your Employees Happy in a Recession

Yes, there are ways to keep your employees happy in a recession but at what cost?

While most employees may not be forthcoming about the primary reason they work with their respective companies, it’s an open secret that the salary is the biggest motivation.

In a recession, a problem surfaces – the remuneration reduces in value because of the accompanying inflation in the economy. Employers will, therefore, need to do something to keep their employees engaged and happy enough to maintain a level of output. But even employers bear the brunt of an economic recession. So what’s the solution? You’ll find out in a moment.

Before your employees read this article and learn the scope, gather here and see 5 ways to keep them happy in a recession (without increasing their salaries). 

What happens in a recession?

Using logic and deduction, recession literally means to recede or step back. So, in the economic context, a recession is a “step back” in economic activities.

Forbes defines an economic recession as “a significant decline in economic activity that lasts months or years”.

Recessions happen for different reasons – we’re not getting into them in this article, but one of the components is inflation. 

Currently, Nigeria and other countries of the world are experiencing inflation. Organisations and businesses are not earning as much as they used to. Even if they are, the actual worth is considerably lower than it should be. 

The domino effect is reflected in the inability to pump more money into the employee budget, especially regarding salary increases.

On one hand, employers are fighting hard to keep their businesses afloat. On the other hand, employees are demanding more for their services because the value of what they’re receiving keeps declining. If you, as an employer, are unable to satisfy your employees, you risk losing them or recording lower output.

So, how do you keep your employees happy in a recession without increasing their salary? Hush now. We don’t want them privy to this information. 

5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy in a Recession

  1. Show Empathy

Yes, we know it’s a professional environment, but a little empathy goes a long way. 

During a recession, uncertainty can lead to anxiety among employees. Transparent communication from leadership helps alleviate fears

Show your employees that you see their plight and you understand. Talk about how the economy has affected the business – not so much though. You don’t want to sow seeds of doubt and panic in the hearts of your staff. 

Just be human and show that you know how the economy affects the quality of your employees’ lives.

  1. Give Positive Feedback

One of the ways to engage your employees is to give them feedback when they do something right. Yes, they’re doing their jobs, but remember that the pay may not be commensurate with their work.

Don’t hesitate to sprinkle compliments and positive feedback when they achieve a goal or hit a target. It lets them feel seen, valued and content.

  1. Provide Incentives/palliatives

While trying to cut costs and maximise whatever funds you have (which may not cover salary increments), you can remain empathetic and kind by making a budget for palliative support.

Depending on the size of your staff, you can provide some foodstuff or lunch for a period of time. 

It’ll cost much less to provide lunch or give out foodstuff than to do a company-wide salary increase. 

Imagine if you were to increase salaries by 30,000-50,000 for 30 employees. It would cost much less to employ the services of s caterer to provide lunch for your staff every working day. The lunch may cost 3,000NGN per person. Multiply that by 5 days a week (assuming you don’t run a hybrid work structure), and you’ll be spending just half or even a quarter of what you should spend on each employee.

Applying this arithmetic to providing a transportation system will give you the same result. 

In essence, there are a number of creative ways to support your employees’ cost of living without an actual salary increase.

  1. Flexible Working Structures

During the COVID-19 lockdown period, companies switched to remote work. After the lockdown, most companies adopted the hybrid work mode as they didn’t see the need for staff to be in a particular location every working day of the work week. 

So, if your company can function in the same capacity with staff working remotely, why not adopt the hybrid model? You save costs, and your employees save money spent on commuting and lunch. They’re happy, you’re happy. It’s a win-win for everyone.

  1. Team-bonding Activities

In a recession, there’s a buildup of anxiety, worry, doubt and even depression among employers and even more among employees.

Organising team bonding activities can help your employees unwind, rest from the pressure and bond with their colleagues.

Games day or company outing events in groups foster a sense of security. Activities like these assure your staff that throwing their heads back and laughing heartily is okay. Besides, it’s still more cost-effective than a company-wide salary increase.

To wrap up…

A recession is a company’s worst nightmare because employers spend more and seem to get the same or lesser results. The major concern for employers is keeping their employees happy enough to maintain the same output level, if not increase it, with the same compensation. 

But with the five points we’ve discussed, you won’t need to expand your budget by a lot, especially if you can’t afford to.

Have you discovered other ways to cut costs and keep your staff smiling? Share the updates, please!

Thelma Nwosu
Notification Bell