We study employment policies in private loss firms and their impact on loss reversal. We show that employee retention positively affects the likelihood of a return to profitability in firms with family CEOs, who are typically averse to employee dismissals for reasons mainly related to preserving socioemotional wealth. This effect is more pronounced for firms with transitory (i.e., less severe) losses. Further analysis suggests that productivity improvement following employee retention is the main economic channel of our results. A lack of socioemotional wealth also helps explain the negative association between employee retention and loss reversal in firms with outside CEOs. This pronounced duality of performance responses to employee retention supports prior findings on the importance of socioemotional wealth for family firms. In light of the crisis induced by COVID-19, our findings can provide insights that may enhance the efficacy of employee retention-related government schemes assisting firm recovery.