3 Ways To Foster Healthy Workplace Communications During A Downturn 

A downturn or recession is defined as an economic decline on a global scale. This economic decline lasts for more than a few months and impacts every sector of the economy. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the decline in the global economy should coincide with the weakening of macroeconomic indicators such as trade, capital flows, and employment. 

The time frame between an economy’s peak activity level to its bottom point is another way the term recession is defined. Commonly, they don’t last too long. Historically, the average length of recessions since the end of WWII has been 10 months. 

In the post-pandemic era, the cost of living has added another dimension of complexity thanks to inflation, rise in supply chain costs, trade barriers and so on. While we won’t get into the reasons for this, the inevitable rise in living expenses has brought significant everyday challenges – such as worries about putting food on the table, and paying off mortgages and energy bills to name a few. These demands and stresses without doubt have been following people into their everyday work.

In amongst all this uncertainty, businesses need help to sustain their work culture and give employees a sense of purpose. And being proactive in your workplace is crucial as a business owner. This blog post will give you some helpful advice on how to run a recession-proof business by adopting healthy communication practices. Keep reading to learn more.

Keeping the lines of Communication Alive During a downturn

It is said that “joblessness shoots up like a rocket and drops off like a feather.”

Periods of uncertainty particularly a recession can bring discord in terms of how we communicate with one another. Many people will be without a job, while those who are employed will likely end up with high workloads even as they strive to make ends meet. It’s more crucial than ever to have good communication for a calm and collected workplace.

Maintaining good relationships, both on a personal and professional level, needs proper communication skills. People usually let feelings get in the way of communicating effectively when the going gets tough. To get this right, you need to take a step back to see things from the other person’s or team’s viewpoint.

Businesses are under a lot of stress and as such, it can cause friction and conflict in workplaces. Effective communication can help in conflict management and reduce stress. Conflicts at work may often need the help of an experienced professional to help negotiate a situation and help keep things in perspective, while fostering co-operation and trust. Effective communication enables us to promote a productive workplace – one which supports us even when times are less than favourable.

So, what can you do to improve communication during an economic downturn? The following sections explore this in detail.

3 Ways to Foster Workplace Communication

Workplace cultures must be encouraging and empathetic always, especially during a recession. For this reason, workplace interactions must be even more open and transparent. There are a few key measures that businesses should keep in mind. These include:

encourage open and respectful conversations

Maintaining open lines of communication at work during a downturn cannot be stressed enough. It is one of the best communication strategies at trying times. By doing so, you are helping establish a more effective workplace that’s better prepared to withstand the storm.

Open conversations are necessary for productive professional communication. It enables the exchange of various ideas and aids in ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Open communication can also promote rapport and trust among co-workers.

Here are some suggestions for encouraging open dialogue at work:

  • Encourage questions. Employees should feel free and psychologically safe to ask questions at work. You will promote open dialogue at work by encouraging inquiries and feedback.
  • Create an open environment. A pleasant atmosphere is one in which people feel free to express their opinions. This is a major way to get everyone to talk freely in the workplace without concern for repercussions.
  • Define the parameters. Make sure your staff is aware that respectful communication is non-negotiable at all times. They should know that any other forms of communication are unacceptable.

encourage active listening

During a downturn, financial pressures may have a negative impact on people’s personal and work life. But active listening is one of the communication strategies that may foster a smooth-running workplace.

There are many relevances of active listening to effective workplace communication. But let us first get the definition of active listening. Active listening entails the ability to fully grasping what someone has said before responding. It differs from merely listening to offer a quick reply. It involves taking the time to full understand a subject before providing a suitable response. 

You get to clarify, confirm, and reflect back to the speaker what you have heard while actively listening. This kind of listening can promote rapport and trust by making the speaker feel heard and understood. Follow these simple rules for active listening.

  • Give the speaker your full attention and maintain eye contact with them. 
  • Don’t get sidetracked by planning out your next words in your head.
  • Show that you are paying attention to their words and body language. Remember that other people read your body language the same way you read theirs.
  • Interrupting is not only impolite but also arrogant. So, get consent before cutting the conversation midway. The best option is to wait until they’ve finished to come in with your own comment or feedback.

These steps are more than likely to foster a friendly and encouraging work environment.

address conflicts quickly

According to the EEOC, there were over 60,000 workplace discrimination in 2021. That is to say, the recession that came with the pandemic only increased workplace conflicts. This is because of the heightened emotions and tensions among workers and their employers.

You must have healthy workplace communication to keep a positive and productive work environment. All too often, workplace conflict goes unresolved. Communication problems may result from this. In turn, it can impact morale and job satisfaction.

When workplace conflict arises, it is vital to address the issue head-on. It helps to resolve the issue and maintain healthy workplace communication. You can create a more positive workplace by taking the time to resolve conflicts. This will improve communication among employees.

Communications and Remote Work

More and more businesses are allowing their employees to work remotely. This could be a fantastic benefit for staff members, but it can also present some communication difficulties for businesses.

Companies should have a clear and simple communication policy in place for remote workers. This will make it easier to ensure that everyone is on the same page and can communicate with one another seamlessly, whether in the office or not.

Instant chat, video conferencing, and email are all excellent choices. And identifying the communication strategy that benefits your staff and your business is critical.  

An effective communication strategy for remote work may be an excellent way to boost productivity. This will create a major way to build a healthy workplace rapport among coworkers. You can keep your team linked and overcome remote work communication challenges with a little effort.

For example, When it comes to remote meetings, you can engage your employees to have a video meeting rather than having a voice-only meeting. Engage with your employees by having a separate channel on the messaging tools that are dedicated for off-work topics where everyone can engage in virtual-watercooler conversations about their hobbies, talk about their passion, post pictures of their pets and so on. These simple steps will go a long way in making your remote employees feel connected.


Communication is the one and only key to to unlock the blocks in every crisis. So when it comes to supporting your staff during a recession, being open and transparent in your communication can be more beneficial than you might think. Keeping your staff in the dark about prospective cost-cutting, layoffs, or other processes that might be followed in the event of a company crisis can only increase employee anxiety.

Even during difficult economic times, communication between employers and employees is crucial. It can help businesses can ensure that their staff members stay informed. It keeps them updated on recent events and shows them you value and support them.

Businesses often experience difficulties interacting with their personnel during economic downturns. Some of these difficulties are exclusive to the recession. But there is always a solution, as you have read above.

Author: Daniel Martin – COO, Joy Technologies

Photo credit: Moe Magners

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