Calming Employee Angst

Simple things your business can do to calm and keep employees happy

Sept. 18, 2019, Image from

You saw the headlines:

  • GM workers on strike due to U.S. plant closure and pay/benefits disagreements
  • Target has told its suppliers that it will not accept price increases (tariff based)

Could these problems have been avoided?


But what if you are a small or midsized business and feed into a GM or Target-type supply chain? What if you provide services to manufacturers, logistics providers, and other make and/or move entities? What if you want to know how to survive in tough economic times?

You may not have the wherewithal to absorb tariff induced higher prices.

You may not be able to withstand the loss of talented workers who leave. Your employees may not be striking, but they may leave for companies they feel are more stable and able to withstand recessionary forces – specifically –can they stay employed.

How do you keep your employees from leaving?

In this series, we’ll be exploring a variety of implementable possibilities for you, as the business owner or executive, to implement. We’ll also supplement with FREE webinars >>> click to get newsletter info for FREE webinar dates and content <<<.

Let’s explore recession-proofing beginning with a few creative answers you can begin customizing for your business.

Two elements are repeatedly called out by employees as being important, but are repeatedly pulled back when times get tough.

  • Training: Employees are eager to learn new methods, techniques, tools and analysis that will build both the company and their careers. Providing training helps create an employee’s sense of belonging, of being important enough that the business provides valuable learning that makes them feel part of the larger team and capable of helping your company get through tough times.

But in tough times, and especially with larger company pressure to soak up all price fluctuations from global tariffs and other related issues, cost is a very real concern. The “want to provide” may be present, but how can you tame some of the associated costs and advance your employee capabilities? Keep reading:

Develop employee capabilities and public speaking ability at the same time by having employees formally train other employees. OTJ (on the job) training is critical, but what about all the other employees who would like to learn similar skill sets to advance their careers and become more valuable to the company?

What if you host a series of Lunch & Learns? What if employees who know how to handle Excel for your business processes can train people on how to manipulate spreadsheets in the way the company processes require.

Or what if marketing provides insight into what is going on in the industry. It never pays and always increases angst when employees only know part of what the company is up against. The unknown leaves room for rumor and guessing the worst.  Continuous improvement ideas coming out of brainstorming following Lunch & Learn sessions may need to be modified a bit, but without the insight and imagination of the people doing the day-to-day work, as the executive, you may be missing pertinent ideas that will overcome company weaknesses without requiring the purchase of new, expensive systems or the hiring an army of people in an area the company has no experience in.

Furthermore, it’s always been my experience that, when employees learn and understand what other employees do and why, cross-functional coordination is made easier, internal networks are built that get things done faster, and the company sees a reduction in wasted time and money – necessities if you have to compete with shrinking top lines and/or margins.

  • Retirement planning made simple. When times get tough, employees worry about retaining their jobs. If they are laid off how do they pay bills? If they can’t get hired will they ever be able to retire? These questions not only lead to angst, but also decreased productivity, according to research.

But if your business can’t afford providing healthcare and medical insurance, why even worry about retirement planning? For one, it may be more affordable and second, it can work to help keep your talented employees with you instead of seeking jobs at companies that appear to be more stable during recessionary times.

Here are some ideas.

Please note, all ideas that you decide to put into play should be passed by an attorney or legally recognized retirement plan specialist so that you don’t accidentally violate state or federal laws.

Spot bonuses are often used to motivate goal attainment. What if the cash amount provided was matched by a contribution amount made to the employee’s retirement plan with the company? Helps solve long-term and short-term financial goal achievement. While the amount is rarely of concern (the recognition for a job well-done is), you’ll have to make sure all employees are treated equally to eliminate infighting, more angst, and potential sabotage if employees do not feel they are being treated equally and fairly.

You may be tempted to think that Millennials and GenZ’s are not interested in this type of bonus. Those I’ve talked to paint a different picture. With large amounts of student debt and often working in lower paying jobs, retirement investing is often not possible although wanted. To get them started and interested in your company, choose an option in your plan that does not require a minimum investment fee to open an account, or as a sign-on bonus, have the company contribute a portion or all of that account opening fee.

If you don’t have a retirement plan or a training plan, hold a Lunch & Learn session and ask  your employees what they would like to have in a plan. Then develop an affordable solution your employees will appreciate that will not break the bank. One that can be adjusted when cash gets tight as well as when it flows more freely.

Have a retirement plan already? Talk with the plan provider to find out what elements, such as spot bonus contributions, are acceptable and then talk with your employees and have them help expand what is done with that plan. Their engagement now means more engagement later if they see that their ideas are taken seriously and the essence of those ideas is used in ways the plan can incorporate.

To learn more, click to watch the FREE webinar “3 Surefire Steps to Choosing THE Right Retirement Offering Employees Want —- and is right for your business”.


Keywords: recession, business strategy, employees, training, retirement, FREE webinar


Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the president of Process & Strategy Solutions  The Recession Proofing Your Business series helps owners, CEOs, and business decision makers plot paths to growth, retain talent, and increase revenue by eliminating the internal chaos and improving business performance customers pay for.


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