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3 reasons employees will leave your company after the recession

3 min read


Today’s guest post is by Lance Haun, vice president of outreach for MeritBuilder, the main guy over at and a member of the SmartBrief on Workforce Advisory Board. He’s been in the human resources space for almost seven years and (unfortunately) has experience with both sides of the recession.

When I first entered corporate HR, we were in a boom period. Do you remember that? I barely can. I remember hearing about the crisis of the coming labor shortage and how we would be on our knees begging and pleading for people nearing retirement to stay, convincing Gen Xers to stay with meaningless promotions and scooping up as many Gen Yers as we possibly could.

Those were the good old days. That is, if you were a person looking for work.

With unemployment pushing 10%, perhaps employers are taking a breather. They can worry less about people leaving and when they do, they aren’t sweating that, either. Now, instead of candidates asking for stock options, they are asking if the job is full time and offers health insurance. There is talent out there, and it is cheap.

After the recession ends though, some of your best talent may be walking out the door. They probably won’t tell you why either. Here are a couple of hints:

  • You didn’t operate with integrity. That can be anything from giving your executives big bonuses while you cut pay for everyone else to offering a new employee 60% of your normal base because people are desperate. If a company operates honestly and suffers, people can hold their head up. Employees can smell busted integrity from a mile away though. When they can get away, they can.
  • You lack real leadership. Scare tactics? Hiding? Spinmeister? Denial? If these words can be used to describe how your executive team operated during the recession, expect some big-time turnover. Employees look to management to inspire confidence and promote accountability but also to be upfront and honest. Management’s true colors can show during a recession, and employees will remember them.
  • You didn’t do the easy things. When you were piling on the work, zeroing out bonus checks and raises, and expecting more productivity with less, did you say thank you more often? Did you recognize their accomplishments as more impressive with the limited resources? When they worked 20 hours over the weekend, did you allow them to take an afternoon off to watch a kid’s soccer game?

If you’re not hitting a home run in all three of these areas (or at least a solid double), how are you fixing it or what are you going to do to stem the tide of turnover when it hits?

Image credit, Martinan, via iStock