8 Essentials for Re-opening that are good for your business and your team
Business owners everywhere from companies of 1 to 1000's are working hard to adjust to the new normal in the world and the workplace. Whether the changes for your business are temporary, transitional or looking pretty permanent, there is a timeless approach that will help get you and your team back on track when re-opening. It's all about communication. Yes we know ... it sounds like a cliché. But even if you're already pretty good at it, 2020 call for paying even more attention to what and how you communicate with your group.
As you bring your people back or bring new hires in, here are a few tips to help everyone feel more confident, focused and energized in the back-to-business phase and beyond.
Talk business with your people ... often, openly, clearly. Even if your people trust you are taking care of their safety, they also need to know details about business logistics. Start with clarity about hours, pay and expectations so people know how policies and expecially any changes might impact their personal life and responsibilities.
People also want to know about the business as a whole and how new directions or new practices might affect their ability to do their best work and how any changes will affect customers. Good people care about the big picture for the business and tend to worry if they feel service or standards are unclear or compromised.
Be open about any uncertainties you may be figuring out as you go. Let your team know where you're at on those issues, including what's worrying you. Even if you don't have answers, they'll appreciate your honesty and quite likely have good ideas for solving problems. When people feel involved and informed, they are more engaged.
Ask, listen and learn about personal concerns. It's not that you want or need to hear all the details and stories, nor do you want to pry. But the pandemic has taken a toll in different ways for different people, from financial stress, the demands of work-from-home, loss of social or work connections, or concerns about child or elder care. The more you know what's going on with your people the more you're equipped to offer meaningful benefits. And simply offering a word or understanding and encouragement in a world of uncertainty goes a long way.
Ask your people what’s working for them individually, what’s not, and what’s causing stress on the job. While you may not be able to do anything about a situation, just being aware of a team member’s particular worries or challenges, at work or at home, will give you insight on who might be struggling and where a simple adjustment could make a difference. When people feel the boss and colleagues care, they are more focused and committed.
Offer the best benefits you can. With distancing rules, personal caution and budget constraints, perks such as lunches, happy hours and gym memberships are on hold, likely for a long time. Instead, flexible work schedules, extended lunch hours for chores that now take twice as long, coupons for family take-out, or a contribution to improved home office tools are examples of the new benefits people appreciate.
Health insurance is quickly becoming a most valued benefit. People are more concerned than ever about their health and their finances. There are some excellent, low cost options that work for businesses of all sizes, from 1-2 person shops to large groups of contract workers. If you aren’t able to cover even a portion of the bill, you can still provide information and recommend a good plan and broker. Your people will trust a suggestion from you and appreciate that you’ve helped with the homework involved in finding good insurance.
Focus on wellness, from setting an example to encouraging awareness and self-care, especially when it comes to mental health. Make sure your people know about complimentary counseling and other resources available through your insurance (if you have a plan). Post information on community resources that can help with stress, anxiety and building coping skills and resilience for demanding times.
Let’s not kid ourselves. While re-opening and heading back to business is a welcome relief, it’s not business as usual. But with awareness and a few simple, tangible strategies, you can help your team move forward from uncertainty and strain to feel more informed, confident, focused and productive. Healthier for them and the business.