9 Things Businesses Can Do Today For Their Employees Amid Our Changing World
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. You can’t overdo this right now. This does not mean communicating only when you have information or decisions. Communication needs to be consistent and ongoing. If you have no updates or no new information, share what you have said previously and that you have no updates. Share WHY you have no updates. If you only communicate when you have new information or decisions, you are not communicating enough.
2. Make It Personal. Communication is important AND it needs to be personal. Emails or posters are a good way to reinforce your message -- but they should not BE the message. You need to communicate personally - face to face (in person or virtual), call employees directly, actually talk to them. In addition, make it personal by connecting with employees individually, talk to them about how THEY are doing, what struggles THEY dealing with, what concerns THEY have? Bottom line: Make sure your employees know you care and you are there for them.
3. Listen. Part of making sure your employees know you care is that you listen. This seems so hard with everything else going on -- you are trying to figure out how to maintain operations, adjust your business, keep your head above water -- but you need to listen. Listen to their questions, their thoughts, their concerns. Sometimes the best way to just be there for your team is to listen. Listen to their ideas, their suggestions. Just listen.
4. Engage. Sometimes as business owners and leaders, we feel like we need to have all the answers. We are the decision makers, the one that others rely on. But it is important to get your employees involved. Talk to them. Share the landscape, the current situation and the goals - and get their ideas on how to proceed. You will be amazed at the creativity of your employees. Most importantly, your employees want to be helpful and productive during this time - it helps them feel more “normal” when little else is.
5. Use Your Values As Your Compass. It is important to step back and reflect on what’s important to you and your business. Your values (what’s important to you) will guide you to the future. Many businesses have values around teamwork and community – so as you make decisions around your employees and your business operations, make sure your decisions align with your values. What will guide you during this turbulent time is responding in accordance with your values.
6. Give People Something to Do. I am sure we have all felt it - the state of overwhelm that leads to not knowing where to focus or what to do next. People want to be helpful, sometimes they just need a direction. Provide that direction. Give them something to do, give them a job, give them a project - it needs to be meaningful (not just a menial task).
7. Give Grace To Others. We are using the word ‘grace’ rather than ‘patience’ as this is deeper than being patient. This is a difficult time for everyone. Everyone will experience the difficulty differently. Many will feel the stress of wondering how they will pay their bills and feed their families. Others may feel stress trying to figure out how to care for their kids when schools are closed and they need to work. In addition, everyone will respond to the situation differently. People may respond in ways that you think is overblown or illogical or different than how you would have -- breathe and give them grace.
8. Provide Resources. There is a lot of information for employees coming from a lot of different sources. Is your state providing unemployment? What does that look like and where do they apply? Do you have an employee assistance program through work? Are there resources in your area that are providing support like food shelves, emergency daycare options, counseling resources? Consolidate that information for your employees. Remember, it doesn’t need to be you, ask one of your employees to compile and monitor the information and share it with everyone.
9. Say ‘Thank You’. In a time when there is no ‘normal’ and things are turned upside down, everyone is doing their best. Take a moment (consistently and often) to thank your employees. Thank them for their hard work (provide specific examples). Thank them for their patience. Thank them for hanging in there with you. Just thank them.
If you liked the tips within this post, reach out to Kristen and Erin directly!