We are at least one year into this current downturn, and from the looks of the situation, you may not see a substantial recovery until a year from now or longer. Recently, the President indicated he didn’t expect employment to improve until 2011! That’s pretty serious, and a much longer recession than we’ve had during any of my working career. Something is terribly wrong here, but it’s a situation with which you must continue to cope.

You have probably had all the layoffs and early retirements that you can tolerate. Are you using the company-wide furlough? That one week every other month or so, including the highest executives, will save a lot of cash and keep your core together.

All this is going to have an impact on the company morale. This will be particularly true if the hourly workers have born the brunt of the terminations. However, there are some things that you can do to help the situation.

Make sure that everyone is impacted
If the troops know that the top people in the company are also having pay reductions, either by furloughs or other means, they will appreciate that the burden is being shared. Don’t forget, everyone is in this boat together.

Share the company’s operating data
Have small department meetings and share the company’s operating statement for the last month or quarter. Show how expense cuts have impacted the bottom line. Share the latest sales figures. Talk about the latest projects won or the latest developments in R&D for that new product that will be ready when the economy recovers. There’s always some good news even in the darkest times.

Recognize good work
Even without the extra cash for bonuses, employees will appreciate being recognized for extra work efforts. In meetings or with pictures and bulletins, identify those who have gone beyond the norm.

Use some time for more education
Outside education budgets have probably been cut, but there are ways to provide continuing education without much cost. Use your in-house expertise to provide education in relevant subjects for some of the junior staff and hourly employees. Upgrading their knowledge about your technology will pay off when times are good and be a morale booster in this economy.