There’s no doubt the current environment is a challenging one for business owners. HR managers are also feeling the strain, as they’re pulled between a need to scale and keeping the business in operation.

Many changes to business operations have focused on reducing overhead and streamlining staffing. Employers are using creative solutions to reduce payroll and continue operating. However, many HR managers want to retain as many of their team members as possible.


You’re probably focused on keeping your top performers. You may not be able to hang on to everyone, but you also want the business to have the capacity to keep performing, both now and in the near future.

So, how can you retain the top-performing employees for your business? These tips can help.

Identify Top Performers and Reassure Them

No one wants to lose their job, especially under these circumstances. Most people recognize that businesses may be in a tight spot, though. Cutting payroll could be the difference between keeping the doors open and shuttering them indefinitely.

Most business leaders already know who their top-performing employees are. In most cases, you’ll start by parting ways with those who are at the lower end of the list.

Given the current climate, though, you might need to reduce the workforce more than you anticipated. You may have to let some great team members go, as the business restructures, consolidates positions, or refocuses on core strengths.

Once you’ve identified your top performers, reach out to them. Reassure them. Even if you have to let them go, let them know they’re always welcome to reapply. Ask if they’d like to be contacted about open positions with the business. Try to maintain contact with them. You might not be able to bring them back immediately or promise them a job, but communicating effectively and focusing on the relationship keeps top performers on your radar.

Get Creative with Solutions

Letting someone go permanently may seem like the best move right now, but it could put you at a disadvantage as the business environment continues to change. Letting go of too many top performers will limit your ability to succeed later.

Instead of just letting people go, consider other solutions. Temporary layoffs, switching to contract work, or even reducing and sharing hours between team members could help you retain your top performers.

Communicate solutions clearly. If your top team members must share hours in order to stay on, communicate why this change is being made. Emphasize the temporary nature of the change and express hope that you’ll be able to increase hours again soon.

When business turns around, you may be able to rehire team members you shifted to contract work or bring back those who were laid off. If you simply let them go, you could have a harder time getting top-performing employees to return.

Meet Employee Needs

You might not be able to meet everyone’s needs at the moment. Most top performers probably want full-time work, and that might not be possible right now. Reassuring them about the future is key.

There are other steps you can take to support your employees’ needs. If you lay them off, make sure they have access to their benefits. If you can, provide severance for those you must part ways with. Alternate employment offers could also help support your employees.

Don’t forget the team’s mental and emotional needs. Many people are anxious, so the right supports can help them manage. In turn, they’ll be more productive and better able to bring their best selves to work. Caretaking needs may also have increased, along with the need for job leave. See this as an opportunity. You could share hours between employees more effectively while helping to meet employees’ needs outside the workplace.

There are plenty of steps you can take to support your top performers. In turn, they’ll be more likely to stick with you, through thick and thin.