Nothing creates turnover among your best people like uncertainty. During tough economic times it is important to address this issue by directly telling your best employees what the future holds and their role in it. Putting to rest their insecurity is a must.
For the smaller employer it is an excellent thing to create a "Personal Engagement Plan" for each key employee. The PEP can be created by having a third party ask the key employee(s) what learning do they need, their preferred way to be managed, the changes they would like to see made to improve their performance, and, ways to retain their knowledge at low-cost or no-cost ways. The third party then uses the input to create the PEP.
This type of demonstration that you have your key performers’ best interest in mind goes a long ways toward retention in uncertain times.