Earlier this week, I went to a meeting where the topic was the economic forecast for 2010. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The overall consensus was that our economy is going to improve and it will do it sooner rather than later.
The interesting part for me though, was the speaker who said that we need to watch how we're treating our employees now, because the economy will improve and those employees will have choices. Will they choose to stay at your firm? You would like to think so, but why not be certain?
Now, I'm not saying that you can't make tough choices, cut costs, or charge more for benefits. That's simply not realistic. What you can do is make certain that you communicate the reason for the change, what other options you considered, and then be available for comments. Better yet: ask for employee input before you choose a course of action.
Will everyone be happy? Absolutely not, but if the majority of your employees believe that you are trying to do the right thing, you'll be fine. The ones that are never satisfied are the ones that you won't mind seeing move to the company next door.