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A ghost has been haunting medical sales employees for the last 10 years. It isn’t cloaked in a white sheet, roaming company halls. This ghost is much more unsettling — it’s the ghost of recessions past.

Many medical sales employees are still dealing with the repercussions of the 2008 Great Recession, according to a recent report by my team here at MedReps, The Truth Revealed: Is Low Unemployment Causing a Medical Sales Jobs Shortage?. According to our respondents, during the last recession, 70 percent were laid off, 74 percent couldn’t find a new job, and another 65 percent couldn’t hit performance goals.

These are career-changing blows for dedicated and determined reps. Just as many reps have reestablished their careers and overcome the aftershocks of the Great Recession, the U.S. has hit record-breaking low unemployment rates.

While low unemployment seems like a positive turn of events for the economy, it’s giving many people terrifying flashbacks. And their fears are not unfounded. In fact, economists have admitted the last 10 recessions occurred almost immediately following a dip in unemployment, The Bloomberg View reported.

The force of these fears is powerful. Economy-related stress and anxiety will leave your medical sales team with decreased focus and productivity. Worse yet, they may even start jumping ship. As an employer, you can’t erase the damage that’s already been done. However, to help your team of medical sales reps excel, you must focus on easing their woes of recessions past.

It’s time to take action. Here’s how you can address and calm your team’s fears of future job stability, availability, and financial security:

Communicate your action plan

You can’t guarantee that another recession won’t negatively impact your team’s careers. Reassurance, however, that your company is doing everything it can to keep its employees safe and secure will make all the difference.

Of the respondents in our previously mentioned report, a surprising 64 percent feel their jobs are secure, even though they’re fearful another recession is quickly approaching. This optimistic response is, in part, related to the fact that 49 percent say their current companies have safety nets for employees during recessions or other financial hardships.

On the other hand, one of the most critical errors with past recession action plans, and likely why only roughly half of our respondents said their companies have safety nets, is a lack of communication. Discussing the benefits of these action plans only when an emergency arises does nothing for your employees’ current fears.

Whether the economy is booming or on a downward trend, keep employees informed. Don’t simply let them know you have a plan in place. Give them the gritty details. Bullet-point how the company will meet the needs of various people. For example, those with children and families at home will have different needs during economic turmoil than those living alone.

In addition to your plan, present research from past recessions. Lay out what safety programs have worked in the past, the number of employees who remained on your team, and even company revenue if it was impressive compared to other industries during the Great Recession.

Focus on exciting developments

Focusing on a bright future is one of the best ways to cut down shadows of the past. Prior recessions occurred. However, your company has not only survived those economic downfalls, it’s also thriving and creating new groundbreaking products.

Medical sales reps are passionate about innovation because it means they’ll be offering customers even more ways to meet patients’ needs. In fact, in our Best Places to Work report, when asked the most important quality in an ideal employer, 41 percent of medical sales employees said a solid product line.

Give your team something to look forward to every day. Start by asking employees to jot down positive notes customers give about products during meetings. Then, send a daily or weekly inspirational email that highlights a motivating customer quote.

In these emails, also include product developments. Keep your team fully in the loop with small but mighty changes to current products or updates on where a new product stands. As your emails gain traction, employees will look forward to seeing an encouraging road ahead.

Prove people are your top priority

Every single one of your employees will have a different story to tell about previous recessions. Their perspectives compared to their managers’ and leaders’ of the time could vary drastically. Chipping away at employees’ fears of recessions past will be especially difficult if your team’s perspective is that a company was too focused on its own well-being to help them survive economic hardships.

Your team needs to see and feel that they and your customers are the top priority — at all times. This all begins when leaders cultivate trusting relationships based on people-focused decisions.

Start by staying connected and visible. Work together, in one-on-one and team settings, to discuss employee- and customer-related issues. Be diligent in keeping track of where those problems stand and the action-plan you created with employees.

Secondly, find ways to give reps the glory. So often, companies rise above after an economic hardship and are growing, but employees don’t see the direct benefits. Remember, the company’s success is their success.

Frequently tell your team how important they are to the organization, overall. Then start walking the walk. Show your appreciation through performance-based bonuses, increased PTO, promotions, and even schedule flexibility.

These actions will grow trust between employees and leaders, something that may have been lost since the Great Recession. The increased trust will accelerate focus, productivity, and dedication.

How do you calm employees’ fears from past recessions? Let us know!

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