As we head into the final couple of months of 2022, the global economy looks to be heading for a recession. The macroeconomic headwinds are serious: inflation, the energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, a semiconductor shortage, and China’s Covid restrictions that hamper economic growth worldwide – I could go on. Here in the UK there’s the added issue of Brexit to contend with. All of this produces an outcome that is business’s great foe: uncertainty.

Uncertainty is such a concern because what companies look for above anything is a stable political and economic environment in which to make investment decisions. Regardless of the causes of the uncertainty, market jitters manifest themselves in a pretty similar way: companies slow or stop their hiring, expenditure is trimmed, and investment put on hold.

Let’s imagine this uncertainty for a second as if it were the housing market. Rather than moving house – a big undertaking with a lot of costs attached – people stay put and wait it out. Instead, they might look into a renovation/extension of their existing property or pay off some of the mortgage (if possible). In the rental market, one might choose to renegotiate the rental period and save money to see what happens to property prices before buying. Either way, the result is the same: Investment stalls, impacting economic growth.

To extend that analogy just a little further: for companies out there thinking about investing in employee development, now is a great time to build that extension or pay down that mortgage!

What do I mean by this? Hiring talented people to grow your business is already a challenge given the low unemployment rate. Coupled to that, when the economic outlook is uncertain people take the same decision as businesses do: they tend to stay where they are, reduce their risk, and see what unfolds.

So with a difficult hiring market, and economic uncertainty this is precisely the time for doubling down and investing in your existing employees. What are some of  the areas you should be looking at? For companies with HR functions, speak to them and to those who line manage others. Prioritise the employees you want to invest in and review the policies you have in place for the continuous development and internal promotion of talent. Identify those who, with the right support, are capable of taking on new responsibilities and could grow the business.

1-1 coaching can help, too; investing in it could help your team members fulfil their potential and equip them with the skills to flourish. Investing in a leadership training program might help those whom you consider capable of leading others; learning how to manage others for the first time, or perhaps a chance to refine their thoughts and processes before stepping up to manage a larger team. Whatever the size or sector your company is in, it’s time to turn the economic conditions to your advantage as best as possible and stay ahead of the competition. To that end, I strongly recommend that you invest in your existing employees.