As entrepreneurs, we have the flexibility and agility to take steps that can smooth work transitions related to current events for our team members and help maintain business continuity. As leaders, we need to show empathy and flexibility to keep teams feeling supported and grounded. We take a look at three tips for surviving and thriving even during stressful, uncertain times.
Cut employees some slack.
Even if your employees don't personally know someone who has or has had the coronavirus, you can bet their lives have been altered by the pandemic in some other way. If they're caregivers of any kind -- whether that be to elderly parents who live with them or to their own children -- they no longer have paid help of any kind. That means they're doing it all themselves. If all your people are remote, perhaps some of them were accustomed to going to a coffee shop to get things done each day and they're now at home, alone and lonely.
Whatever your team members' particular situations, it's more likely than not that their average workday has changed considerably since March. As the boss, try your best to remember that. If your people need a couple of vacation days on short notice or aren't giving 100 percent every day, let it slide as much as you can.
"Offer as much support as is reasonable," Barbara Larson, an executive professor of management at Northeastern University, recently told Bloomberg Business. "This is the time to give people every break you can give as a manager, such as time off or lower workload. One big payoff is that this yields increased employee loyalty after the crisis is over."
Encourage mental-health breaks.
Some people deal with crisis and stress by burying themselves in their work and attempting to tune out the chaos around them. As much as this might benefit the company, try not to let your employees turn into corona-ostriches. One method to help is to encourage breaks, particularly the kind that get people moving.
"Employees who exercise are more productive and less likely to suffer from work burnout," Alex Jones writes in a recent piece for Vault.com. To that end, try setting aside an extra half hour each workday during which you mandate that no work be done -- and employees take a walk or go for a run, dust off the VHS and pop in some old Richard Simmons tapes, etc. Need inspiration? Share with your employees this list of workout apps and services that are free to use during the pandemic. Enforce the 30-minute break. If emails get sent or work is undeniably done during that time, kindly but firmly let the hard-working rule breaker know you're onto them and tell them that for your health and the health of the company, you're taking the half-hour respite seriously.
Up the reward quotient.
Everyone likes to be rewarded for their hard work, and even more so when things are tough. If one of your people goes the extra mile to win a piece of business (not, remember, at the expense of their own health), truly helps another team member or otherwise wows you, praise them. Then give them a present.
Sure, gifting an adult for solid work is probably overkill during normal times, but these are not normal times, and the 'gift' need not be large or extravagant. Something that tells them you know a bit about them as a person, not just an employee, will go a long way. (Bonus points if it's something they can use now, such as a gift card to an ugly-produce delivery service, like this one.)
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