Best Recession Employment Practices


A recession usually means massive layoffs, downsizing and higher levels of unemployment. This one will be no different. How can you adjust your employment practices in your small business to maximize your profits and survive the recession?

Fearful Employee = Good Employee?

First of all, you have to remember that consumers, your employees, are one of the driving forces in the economy. If they’re like the majority of other people they’re maxed out on credit, have a mortgage payment that’s way to high for what they earn and are living from paycheck to paycheck. While this is true at any time, during a recession this becomes more critical. You can take advantage of their weakness to protect your business against the recession and to help your bottom line.

Remember that they will already be fearful of a layoff during an economic downturn. Even if you don’t really need to fire anyone, drive the tough times message home to your employees. This will help them focus on doing a better job since they know that new employment will be tough to get.

The Nice Guy Approach

But, you should also sprinkle your tough times message with platitudes about how you’re a family business and how you consider your employees family and that the company cares about people. Talk about how much you value each and every person’s contribution to the company. Say that you don’t have any staff reductions planned during the recession, even if you do. Go on about how the company’s strength is the quality of its people. This kind of crap really improves your public image. You’ll be know as an entrepreneur who cares about people. Unless your employees have been exposed to this trick before, this will make it easier for you to cut your staff when you need to, and you will need to in this recession.


The Roman’s called it decimation when they killed 10% of a failing army unit. We have nicer, HR friendly, terms today when 10% of the work force is thrown to the recession wolves. You should cut your work force now by at least 10%. Quickly put ‘forced ranking’ programs in place to get rid of unproductive and unpopular employees now. Do such reductions quarterly to insure quick headcount cuts and to insure that you have the strongest employee pool possible.

Take the ‘Darth Vader’ approach to personnel who make mistakes. Accept their apology and then fire them on the spot. This will insure that whoever you choose to replace them won’t make the same mistake again.

You do only want quality people working for you, right?

Incentive Programs

Now is the time to add incomprehensible incentive programs to your compensation plan. Cut salaries by about 10%. Remember you can cut 10% off of anything. But you also offer a 25% of salary bonus plan that is very complex and subjective. This will leave your workforce perplexed but thinking that they actually got a big raise. The joke will be on them because they’ll work harder to get the bonus while you decrease your employee carrying costs. It’s another big win-win situation for you.

Another method is to provide small, cheap, trinkets as a reward for employee achievement. For example, if a department cuts expenses, give them a cheap attaboy trophy. This gives them a warm fuzzy feeling, makes the more productive, and you’ve only spent $20 to get it.

Raid Your Competition

Be on the lookout for your competitors laying off some talented people. You may be able to hire them for less than what they would be worth in a good job market plus you’ll get the advantage of a honeymoon period while they’ll be showing you their best work. Another big win for you.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 at 8:52 pm and is filed under Employees, Recession. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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3 Responses to “Best Recession Employment Practices”

  1. Bob Henderson Says:

    This kind of belligerent capitalism-gone-wild attitude is what got us into this recession in the first place. What a low-life.

  2. Orville Says:

    I appreciate your input Bob. It is a hard nosed world out there and nice guys do finish last while the real bastards, like Jack Welch of GE, make money hand over fist even during a recession.

    But, I must say that I prefer our current economic system, even with its flaws, to the shared misery of socialism that some of my relatives still suffer under in Cuba.

  3. Is the Recession Reducing or Increasing Employee Productivity? | Cyclope-Series Team Blog Says:

    […] working environment is the ideal situation for a recession economy, it’s not the only type of business environment that is motivating people to be productive on the job today. We also often see the opposite […]


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