The Race for Reinvention: Employee Engagement Through a Recession

By Aleena Rupani

Posted on

Raconteur recently posted an article that highlighted three ways in which businesses can address the growing need to better engage employees. In this blog, we look at how innovation in this area has unlocked unforeseen success for our clients and advise steps that anyone can take to better make use of an organization’s greatest asset: its people.

The predicted recession is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now. It’s the subject of government policy, financial discussions, and a litany of articles and columns across the internet. Our own content published over the last few months has seen several guides, blogs, white papers, and other resources released that focus on how to navigate this tricky time.

In a recent article that gathered a lot of attention online, Raconteur say that the core focus of recession planning should be around people. Not only because people drive business actions forward, but also because the cost of getting employee engagement wrong is even more devastating now.

In the era of social media, review sites, and global shifts in ways of working, we all find ourselves at a crossroads. The companies that look after the people that work for them now will reap the benefits of loyalty, experience, and expanding knowledge bases in the years to come. This is needed to gain competitive advantage in tough and prosperous times alike.

This article from Raconteur focuses on three key areas that businesses should pay particular attention to:

  • Flexibility and fringe benefits
  • Putting engagement to the test
  • The need to keep innovating

Flexibility and Fringe Benefits:

Traditionally, a decent pay packet and pension allowance would be seen as enough by employers who wanted to keep their workforce on side. However, the last couple of years has seen these two core foundations of employee engagement put to the test with growing inflation and cost of living increases.

This is where flexibility in terms of remote working, location diversity, and fringe benefits like gym memberships need to become critical considerations. People now see remote working as a norm rather than a benefit, so this loses its appeal as an ‘added extra’. In times like this, employers need to make sure that the incentives, recognition, and rewards that they offer to employees are right for the time and communicated effectively.

Putting Engagement to the Test:

Raconteur notes that empty gestures of solidarity from those higher up in an organization are not going to cut it, when employees have difficulty paying bills, buying food, and heating homes. For evidence of this, look no further than the recent NHS TikTok faux pas.

Adapting employee engagement to this fiscal reality, however, could be the masterstroke needed to keep morale high in difficult times. One possible workaround comes from community work and engagement through charitable partners. This gives employees a sense of community that they may struggle to build through hybrid working, bolsters the resumés of all involved, and generally makes people feel better about themselves.

The Need to Keep Innovating:

If you’ve read any of our blogs until this point, chances are you’re aware of our mantra that “anyone, given the right tools, can be an innovator.” There’s no better time to put this to the test than now and building innovation programs into your business during a time of adversity brings untold benefits for employee engagement.

It gives people an exciting new focus. Extending your innovation efforts to people across your organization means that people who could be dissatisfied at work are given an extra reason to engage.

Also, if executed correctly, it allows people to have a direct say in what the company does and how it progresses. Knowing that their insights and contributions will be considered and potentially implemented into the business is not something that every employer offers. Employees are often glad to be a part of an organization that listens to their submissions and seeks to change for the better.


In the face of a once-a-century shift in the ways that companies can operate as well as fluctuating economic contexts, people will be looking for reasons to stay where they are: why add more uncertainty into the mix by looking for another job? However, employers shouldn’t take this for granted as recent trends have shown that workers aren’t going to settle for poor conditions of work either. Being proactive in implementing new employee engagement strategies is essential for companies to navigate the recession and its aftermath effectively.

By Aleena Rupani

Aleena is Wazoku's resident social media superstar. Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, she's never too far away from a concert or festival - even when the British weather is at its coldest!