Few managers and business owners can truly say that they were ready for the changes that Novel Coronavirus, more accurately called Covid-19, would bring to their operations. Almost overnight, companies have been forced to start operations focused on ‘social distancing,’ Social distancing involves sacrificing many of the activities that once were crucial to business, like sharing coffee, meals, or time on the golf course, as well as more mundane tasks like meetings and interviews.
All of this stress is multiplied for those who are in charge of making sure that business continues as usual; after all, few of us want our employees idle right now, and even fewer would prefer to see wages cut or layoffs commence. However, there are a few techniques that can help make sure that not only your employees stay productive, but that they also are secure in that their livelihoods are secure, with plenty of new leads coming in for your business.
Communication is Key
Because of this, communication is absolutely key. Typically, a manager may only have a meeting a few times a week. However, during this time, touching base every day may be a solution to provide some sense of continuity while also providing structure to your employees’ days. We have read of some engaged companies doing a quick check-in conference call early in the day, as well as one later. That provides a sense of accountability for all involved, while also helping to remind everyone that there is still work to be done.
If possible, remain upbeat, but honest, during this time. Your employees will have difficult answers; “I don’t know” is only an acceptable solution if followed by, “But I will try to find out.” As much as possible, help people to focus on their jobs, not if their paychecks will be threatened.
Share the Burden
During this time, your employees may have unexpected difficulties. Some will have limited bandwidth, while others may have difficulties coping. Being there to share the burden will be an incredible help to those who work for you. A number of small business owners have cut back their hours, but still share them equally among their employees. Others have guaranteed at least so much work during the period.
Hopefully your business will not be in the position to make sure decisions. However, recognizing that you, as the manager or the business owner, may have to take a more hands-on approach through it all will be well received by your employees as long as it is to genuinely help, not to micromanage. Ask questions. Make them feel as they are guiding you, and if you are doing more harm than good, create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable to let you get out of the way.
Recognize the New Normal
Unfortunately, there are indications that this may well be the new normal for at least the next six months, if not considerably longer. Your employees will have to take time to help their kids, or spouses, or parents, and no matter what the reason, a good manager will give them all the time that they need. Remember, recruitment during coronavirus would be a nightmare.
Also, bear in mind that the average American office worker does only around 3 hours of work a given day, with the rest of it taken up by meetings, office events, and socializing with colleagues. As long as that standard is being met, then you really don’t have much to worry about.
Start Planning for the Worst, Now
Finally, businesses should start planning for the worst. There could well be a slowdown that even best efforts could not forestall. In that case, start talking to banks and lenders now about loans, lines of credit, and other ways to make sure that your employees are taken care of during the crisis. With the government offering tax credits to managers who pay their employees during any shut down, there is a way to get this back, and banks know this. However, your employees may not have access to the types of credit that you do.
Doing this, while a scary thought, is the ultimate backstop, and demonstrates a great deal of loyalty to your employees. Remember, employees don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers; doing this can help prevent anyone from jumping ship during later crises.
Avoid the Worst
That said, there are plenty of things that can be done to avoid such a worst case scenario. By far the best way is to make sure that your business has plenty of inbound leads.
As a manager or owner, the simple best thing that you can do to help your employees during a time like this is to make sure that there are plenty of inbound leads to keep everyone busy. Doing so not only removes a number of the burning questions about job stability, but it also helps to create a sense of normalcy that many of your employees will be lacking. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of time to do so.
With the move to online operations, creating content will be a top priority. Write blog posts. Put things on social media. Consider learning basic video editing skills, or perhaps hire a freelancer; trust us, your work will be top priority for them during this time. Putting out more information about your business, and how you are helping clients cope through the pandemic will get noticed. After all, there are more eyes online now than ever before.
”Attending” Events Online
Chances are that before you were a timid participant in webinars and other events online, but now is the time to become engaged. Many companies and groups are hosting these events, and it is a great way to meet people. Chances are that even your college alumni group is offering such opportunities. Take advantage of them and find a way to help other businesses out.Social Media Presence
With all those new pieces of content and new contacts from events online, now is a great time to grow your social media presence. Use tools like IFTTT to optimize posts across platforms, so that something posted on Instagram appears on Twitter and Facebook. Like and comment on other people’s content as well; after all, when you’re looking to make an introduction, being able to be a name that they have seen before will be helpful.
No platform will likely be as useful for your efforts in this matter than LinkedIn. LinkedIn lets you find people in any career field, connect with them, and begin finding ways to help both of you do business better. An abundance of groups, with free messaging between members, lets you build connections. Also, the sheer number of groups is impressive; from college alumni associations to regional trade groups, there are no shortage of ways to find new people who you can help.
Even if you don’t have access to such groups, you can still use LinkedIn to make a difference. Start by focusing on your geographic area as well as complimentary lines of business; if you are an investment management firm, build relationships with accountants, lawyers, and even college prep counselors. Even if they are not likely to become clients themselves, they can help point people in your direction.
Crucial to this is making sure that you are giving as much as you are taking. Helping to be the nexus from which a number of connections are made will help make sure that you and your company are the first thought of when a need arises that your firm is able to solve.
All of this can be quite time-consuming, but is a crucial way to build your business. If you’re worried about reaching out to people on LinkedIn taking up too much time, look into Kennected. We offer a variety of ways to help companies best leverage LinkedIn in order to help them build the sort of relationships that produce leads. By taking into account your needs in clients and the services you offer, we help you best scale your LinkedIn efforts in order to reach as many people as possible.
In short, just like a good manager, we remove the burden so that you can focus on doing what you do best; helping your employees succeed.
If you’re ready to learn more, contact us today – Kennected stands ready to help your small business guarantee a supply of leads through the Covid-19 Pandemic and beyond.