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January 31, 2010
How to Retain Your Best Workers During a Recession

In a BLR webinar entitled "Where's My Raise? How to Handle Tough Pay Conversations With Employees," Theresa Murphy of HR Partner Advantage and David Wudkyka of Westminster Associates warned that, despite the tough economy, your very best employees will always have plenty of opportunity to jump ship for another job. Keep these ideas in mind to improve your chances of retaining those workers while the recession is raging.

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  • Don't hide the truth about what's happening. Be honest about your organization's current financial condition and give your most valued workers as much detail as you can about why you can't offer raises this year. If you hide things, they're more likely than other employees to find out sooner -- and they'll blame you for it.
  • Focus them on future rewards. If you can offer these employees goal-driven bonuses, especially if they're tied into revenue increases or cost savings, you'll have a better chance of keeping them motivated -- and, you'll postpone the expense of the extra pay and tie it into your own bottom line.
  • Spend extra time with your top performers. Train your supervisors, for example, to monitor their morale and keep them posted on your organization's financial progress.

Theresa Murphy is the principal consultant for HR Partner Advantage, an independent human resources advisory firm based in Raleigh, N.C. She may be contacted at tmurphy@hrpartneradvantage.com. David Wudyka is the founder and managing principal of Westminster Associates, a Massachusetts-based human resource and compensation firm that specializes in pay, performance and productivity issues. He may be contacted at dwudyka@westminsterassociates.com .

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