Human resource pros working to bring employers the greatest return on employee investment are faced with additional challenges in recessionary times. Processes and practices that work well during times of growth often need to be tweaked or thrown out altogether when the economy stalls. As company operations realign to maintain profitability, human resource personnel are called on to find the most effective means of using employee talents.

Keeping Company Goals in Mind


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"Cost cutting" is often the first term that comes to an HR manager's mind during recessionary cycles. Although it's true that employers are more prone to trim the fat on budgets during recessions, they still aim to establish a strong work force and be profitable. In this vein, HR pros serve their companies by finding learning opportunities for employees, because boosting employees' knowledge base improves performance capability.

Retaining the Best Employees


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Although it's sometimes unavoidable to let marginal employees go during tough economic times, top performers are a valuable commodity that employers want to keep. If a cut in employees has left holes in some departments, redirecting remaining staff to fill those voids is an effective use of the work force. This method not only promotes efficiency from a company standpoint, but it also increases the sense of job security for workers.

Understanding Employee Stresses


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HR pros must bear in mind the "human" aspect of their title. Recessions are stressful because of the likely decrease in a company's net worth. Even in companies managing to avoid layoffs completely, workers' personal situations might include spousal or family job losses. In this case, workers who keep their jobs might be faced with increased dependence from those no longer receiving a regular paycheck.

Keeping Employees Motivated


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One of simplest ways to keep employees motivated is through recognition of their efforts. As companies align themselves to maintain competitiveness in their industries, HR pros must remember to acknowledge workers' efforts in the task. Especially when one or two employees go above and beyond expected performance, demonstrating appreciation through gestures like gift card awards or a shout out in a company newsletter add to overall employee satisfaction -- regardless of whether or not the economy is in recession.