From a purely business focus what Ira says about retention should be obvious, but I suspect many people don’t get it, despite the fact that it wasn’t that long ago when the economy was doing well, and the job market was ripe for the picking as a seeker. That’s changed, but it will change again.
But also from this piece, why is being a “human” so hard for managers, or even coworkers in many cases? Just as we would encourage you to check in on your friends and family members during difficult times, and to be on the lookout for small clues that something may be off, we should do likewise at work. We are all still human beings at the end of the day, not cogs in the machine.
In difficult times, such as today, it may be easier to retain good employees through negative leverage, by which I mean communicating the detriments of not having one’s job. Yet, when the economy returns, any short-term benefits of such a strategy will quickly disappear. With an improved job market, employees no longer fear exploring better alternatives. A better strategy for leaders would be to utilize positive leverage, by which I mean showing employees why they desire working for the company beyond the simple fear of losing their jobs. This will increase not only long-term retention but short-term productivity as well.
It also doesn’t have to cost that much. It may be as simple as picking up on a cue and reaching out to someone—as one human to another.