The world hasn’t seen a health crisis like the current pandemic in a hundred years. COVID-19 has ravaged our economies and upended our lives. There is no rulebook — for governments or businesses — on how to deal with these unprecedented challenges. But like with any crisis, this one too is a test of resilience and leadership skills. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you steer your small business and your employees through this difficult time.
To instil confidence in your team, you need to be calm and clear-headed yourself. Do so by staying on top of things. Get your information from credible sources, such as the Government of Canada website, or the World Health Organization. Educate yourself about COVID-19 and the recommended safety measures. Keep yourself update-to-date about the financial relief measures and programs available for small businesses. Being informed will help you plan better.
Focus on what you can control during this time and take prompt action. Have you updated your HR policies for the current crisis? Does your small business have a remote work policy? What about COVID-19 related sick leave? Are there guidelines set on working from home? Will you be laying off employees or working reduced hours? Make a clear roadmap and communicate it to your staff. Hold regular town hall meetings via video conferencing and be visible and available to your employees.
Think out of the box
Your choices don’t always have to rest between retaining and firing your staff. You could also work reduced hours or find financial support through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. Adopt a creative approach to problem solving and decide what works for you. For example, if you had to shut your clothing boutique or your restaurant due to COVID-19, you could build a website and take your business online for the time being.
Build a positive work culture
Now is the time to show your employees that you care for their well-being and value their contributions. Acknowledge achievements and address any issues, queries and worries your staff may have about this crisis. Allow flexible work hours for those with children and/or ailing dependents. COVID-19 also poses a mental health risk. Make sure employees struggling with such issues have access to counselling and other mental health care resources.
Be honest about the hardships that lie ahead, but offer hope and motivate your staff to step up to the challenge.