Recognition: The Key to Retention in a Recession

The old adage is still true today: Employees are a company’s most valuable asset. While the economy has every media and entertainment company focusing on balance sheets and bottom lines, it’s equally important to pay attention to the mood and morale of your workforce.

It can be costly to presume that employees are simply grateful to have a job in the entertainment industry, and that their continued employment demonstrates your company’s appreciation for their talents. Combine heavier workloads due to smaller staff, the shifting politics of task territorialism, and ongoing economic uncertainty and you’ll see that many employees may be doing different jobs than they signed up for. Their resilience, flexibility and loyalty are worthy of recognition.

Promoting a positive work environment isn’t just an altruistic gesture to your staff – it’s good for business.  In Meaning Inc., author G. Bains reports that from 2001 to 2006, the average return for all S&P 500 companies was 2.5x, while the list of best companies to work for produced a 6x return. Motivated, engaged, and happy employees make your company more productive and more competitive, and improving retention helps reduce training costs and down time while improving profitability.

  • Recognize behavior as well as performance
  • Be inclusive –  don’t recognize only particular roles
  • Make recognition a regular part of your team culture

Recognizing your employees does not require great financial investment. What it does require is attention to their circumstances and to the work they do:

Motivation experts consistently name “praise” as the most important factor in promoting employee satisfaction. It doesn’t require fanfare or ceremony. (In fact, some employees prefer subtlety). Start simple: seek out the employee to say “thank you” for a particular effort, or send a brief email praising the results of their actions. Peer recognition is especially effective, so work with your team to create a program that encourages employees to acknowledge each other for excellent work. It can be as simple as a centralized whiteboard devoted to those comments. Whatever you decide to do, do something – an annual review isn’t enough to keep an employee motivated through a year of effort.

Most employees are eager to improve their skills and knowledge, and appreciate when an employer makes an investment in their career. Recognize outstanding effort by working with the employee to find affordable training opportunities that expand their capabilities and talents – in turn increasing their value to your company.  Even in an atmosphere of cost-cutting, it’s important to remember that training is an investment, not an expense.

The recession has people worrying about their own circumstances, which can take focus off of team goals. Consider rewarding a hard work-week by gathering your team for an informal meeting or a team lunch. The focus can be team-building exercises or casual brainstorming sessions to talk about big-picture work ideas. In a 40 hour work week, one hour spent improving morale and energy will increase the productivity of the other 39.

Uncertainty can be immobilizing. Most employees recognize that in a recession, difficult decisions have to be made that may impact their jobs, and for many, the uncertainty of impending change is worse than the change itself. Transparent communication with your team demonstrates respect, and empowers employees to take a more active role in creating solutions.

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Business runs on talent. Ensure that you retain the employee knowledge base and skill sets you rely on by making sure your team feels appreciated and respected. The cost of recognition can be small, but the positive impact is priceless.

For more information on building and maintaining a productive workforce, please contact Stacy Stone at Volt, or visit

Stacy Stone manages media and entertainment services for Volt Workforce Solutions, providing qualified talent to support every stage of the production process. Stacy specializes in customized, concierge-style recruiting services that help ensure the on-time, on-budget completion of every project.

Volt Workforce Solutions is one of the world’s largest talent acquisition and deployment providers, offering a range of recruiting services including contingent staffing, temp-to-hire, professional search, payroll services, and recruitment process outsourcing. Through 60 years of business, Volt has earned its reputation as an industry leader by consistently delivering best-fit talent who help clients succeed.