By Madeline Cashdollar

Chicken Little or Henny Penny (depending upon which side of the pond you heard the tale) yells to anyone who will listen, “the sky is falling!” This is what economists and financial analysts have been telling us for the last year. The recession is coming! Yes, the recession has yet to appear. Was it merely an exaggeration or a fear of the unknown? We are truly in unknown times. 

Look at the conflicting evidence. The Federal Reserve continues to raise rates to fight inflation. Yet, the job market remains strong. The S&P 500 gained 20% and the NASDAQ was up 37% at the end of July. But, housing sales in June were at their slowest pace since 2009 (Yahoo Finance, 7/21/23). The war in Ukraine is at a stalemate, workers are on strike in the entertainment industry, and our globe is at its highest ever recorded temperatures. Some banks are strong while other banks are collapsing. It is a constant stop and start, a roller coaster of news.

Because of the questions that the year 2023 held for organizations as they budgeted, they were preparing for the worst. But, the worst hasn’t happened. Chicken Little continues to tell us the recession is coming; but instead, it just keeps getting pushed out. Meanwhile, employees are asking why they should stay with companies who are playing this waiting game. While it may feel like some of the power is shifting back to the employer with the recession constantly “just around the corner”, we urge you to resist playing into that narrative. When the pendulum comes back toward the center, you want to be on the good side of history and your employees. 

Since we are all waiting to see where this roller coaster heads next, it begs the question: “What do you do to illustrate to your employees you are invested in their future without breaking the bank?” Let’s take a look at the Employee Experience Roadmap to provide some ideas: 


Communicate to employees to remind them why they joined your organization. Highlight your values and mission. They made a great decision to join your organization; help them remember that feeling and reinvigorate the team. Be honest about where the company is now and how the mission, vision, and values will continue to guide the team through uncertainty. Share the talking points from the CEO to first-level managers and repeat until everyone hears the message. 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives have a lot of focus at the beginning of the year with key Employee Resource Group focus months. Don’t let the momentum stop. Try a reverse mentoring program. Pair different backgrounds, generations, or expertise to gain insight into technological advances, innovation, and experiences. It can be a rewarding experience for both parties in the relationship. 


In the most recent Microsoft Work Trend Index (a global survey of workers across multiple industries and companies published in Sept 2022) 53% of managers report feeling burned out at work. Just like the old saying, “out of the frying pan, into the fire,” managers have been asked to guide employees through a global pandemic, into a recession-hyped world with all of the competing forces described above with little to no training. We have left our managers fending for themselves in a world asking for more and more productivity with fewer and fewer resources. Dust off that manager training. Look to repurpose communication or teamwork training for your managers. These key soft skills are now being promoted as the true differentiators of good leaders. Especially in an era of hybrid and remote work, these skills are more valuable and transferrable than traditional hard skills.


Feedback is a gift. Employees want it and need it. As you review mid-year performance and begin to plan for 2024, provide honest and constructive feedback to your employees. After team meetings, take a moment to ask for feedback from your team. Thank them for the feedback. Then, find opportunities to provide constructive comments to each team member. Make sure you share observations on how the action or words affected the situation and avoid judgments. Provide a brief explanation about how this action or behavior impacted the situation. You can also add how the person may want to try to go about this situation differently in the future. Also, find opportunities to share positive feedback to the individual. Make feedback a regular discussion and don’t let there be any surprises when the time to evaluate performance rolls around.


When was the last time you said, “thank you” to your team members or peers. Everyone benefits from a simple thank you. Find ways to thank employees for their contributions. A quick email of thanks, a public thank you in front of others, or even a traditional thank you note can motivate an employee to continue to give that discretionary effort. It’s simple and it doesn’t cost anything to be gracious.  


To satisfy a team members need for something different, show them how they can continue to move within the organization. Filling roles internally is a win-win for employer and employee. It keeps hiring costs and productivity high for the employer, and the employee continues to grow and develop skills without having to take the risk of leaving an employer. To do this, highlight a current leaders’ career path that may have been non-traditional. People want to see how they can grow at a company, and the best way to demonstrate career growth is by showing examples of those who have made multiple moves within an organization. Great examples of lateral movements for development illustrate to employees that there is more to development than a traditional straight path upward.

It is a strange time out there but we can’t stop ensuring our team members’ experience is excellent. These inexpensive yet impactful ways described can help go a long way toward retaining your employees for better days ahead. If you have any questions about implementing these ideas or want to explore other solutions for curating a fabulous employee experience, please reach out to Innovative Connections at or call us at 970-279-3330.

Our mission is to give voice and action to an emerging future. As a partner in your success, we would love to come alongside you to help you find your voice, see your vision, and imagine what the right action could be for you, your team, and your organization.