Key Takeaways from Refael Edry: How to Motivate Employees During a Recession

February 20, 2023

Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft - what do these companies have in common besides being the world’s leading tech giants? They’ve all been in the news recently for laying off thousands of employees.

When the COVID-19 pandemic confined people to their homes, there was a sudden uptick in the use of electronic devices, online shopping, and social media. It prompted these companies to recruit new employees to keep up with growing consumer demand.

But that traction has started declining as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted and the “new normal” shifts. And then there’s the threat of an impending global recession.

Some experts believe that when the recession hits, it’ll affect nearly a third of the world’s population. Others claim that the global economy is already in recession.

In either case, tech companies like Google and Microsoft are no longer seeing the growth trajectory they once anticipated. And that’s what is triggering the recent mass layoffs.

The Toll on Employees

It’s natural for employees in any company to be concerned about the recent trend of layoffs. What’s worse is that as layoffs continue, the job market will become increasingly competitive. That, in turn, will make it difficult for people to find new employment opportunities if they lose their jobs.

Whether running a marketing agency or a tech startup, the recession will affect your company in some way or the other. Even if you don’t downsize your workforce, your employees might have to deal with pay cuts. And then there’s the constant stress of not knowing whether things will change for the worse.

It’s up to business leaders and employers to support their employees during these difficult times. Otherwise, it’s easy for employees to lose their motivation and willingness to work while worrying about the future. That, in turn, can take a toll on employee engagement and productivity.

According to a recent report by Gallup, disengaged employees cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. That’s a staggering 11% of the global GDP. You can’t afford to lose a substantial chunk of business revenue due to unproductive employees, particularly during a recession.

But how do you keep employees motivated amidst the uncertainties of an economic crisis? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, you can take a cure from the journey of Refael (aka Rafi) Edry, an accomplished businessman and philanthropist from Israel.

Refael Edry’s Inspiring Story: Lessons for Business Leaders and Employers

Born and raised in Safed, Refael Edry is the nephew of a brave Israeli war hero after whom he was named. Refael Edry z|l (the uncle) fearlessly fought enemy forces in Israel’s War of Independence and hoisted the country’s flag in the middle of an incendiary fire. He sacrificed his life at the young age of 24 for his country and fellow citizens.

Rafi Edry (the nephew) draws courage and inspiration from his uncle’s journey and strives to carry that legacy forward. That’s what kept him going when, as a young man, he had to start working to support his family. While he had to put his own ambitions on hold, he never gave up on his dreams.

Instead, he worked hard and turned his life around. Today, he runs several successful businesses in Israel and Africa with his younger siblings, Eyal Edry and Moshe Edree.

But beyond his professional achievement, Refael Edry also works on various social welfare initiatives through the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities, an organization he founded with his brothers in 2018. While there’s most people look up to him for his business acumen, it’s these efforts that teach valuable lessons to employers.

Foster a Team Spirit

Having experienced hardships throughout his childhood, Refael Edry yearned to do something for the betterment of Israel’s younger generations. But he knew that he needed an army of collaborators and supporters to turn his vision into a reality.

Instead of doing everything on his own, he works with his brothers and volunteers at the Ahinoam Association. Together, they mentor at-risk youth in the country’s periphery and provide financial aid to underprivileged students. They even hosted a fundraiser to provide computers to students from low-income families during the pandemic.

How’s that relevant to your company?

During any crisis, the one thing that employees want to hear from you is, “we’re in this together.” Instead of following established hierarchical structures, make your employees believe that they’re all part of the same team.

Establish clear lines of communication and organize team-building activities to engage employees. The idea is to create a sense of belonging and build a supportive community when employees have each others’ backs. Also, make sure you share regular updates about the company’s policies regarding pay cuts and layoffs.

Empathize With Your People

Every initiative that Refael Edry has launched through the Ahinoam Association highlights his compassion and empathy for Israel’s youth. He understands their plight and, therefore, wants to do his part to improve their lives.

Similarly, as a business leader, you must step into the shoes of your employees and understand their concerns during a recession. Identify factors that can make them feel disengaged or demotivated and take proper measures to address them.

For instance, if an employee is worried about their spouse’s employment status, tap into your network and see whether you can refer them to any suitable job openings. Similarly, if you decide to let go of one of their coworkers, give them time to process their emotions.

Talk to them to acknowledge their inhibitions and feelings and honor the contributions made by their former team members. A little empathy can go a long way to reassure employees about their job status.

In Conclusion

Whether you’ve laid off a few employees or are planning to do so in the near future, it’s crucial to take steps to motivate your remaining workforce. As Refael Edry has demonstrated, empathizing with your employees and instilling a team spirit can help them sail through the crisis and emerge stronger.


Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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