Unfortunately, there is no handbook to guide small businesses through the effects of COVID-19. All you know for sure is that you need to protect your business and employees at all costs. Employees play an essential role in small businesses, so an important step is to make them feel safe, healthy, and secure, which can be achieved by adjusting workflow and keeping employees well-informed. From there, you can prepare your small business for the worst, while also hoping for the best. Here are four tips to protect your employees and your business in 2020.
Set a Plan in Place
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect your business, you should look into putting a protection plan into place for your company and employees. An important provision that many businesses have established is an effective emergency preparedness plan. This will prepare you for any further unexpected disasters and help recover more seamlessly in the future. If you have one in place already, take the time to revise it, and make it relevant to today’s current state.
This plan can act as a step-by-step guide for your company to follow if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs within your staff. It will explain the actions you will take and how you intend to protect your employee’s well-being. Share this plan with your employees now, so they are prepared in advance and know they are being protected.
Restructure Work Leave Options
Creating a more flexible work arrangement will allow your employees to remain productive. With colder weather comes flu season and the risk of another surge in coronavirus cases. To protect your business this fall and winter you should have alternative work policies set into place.
Begin with restructuring your sick leave policy and encourage employees to take sick days or work-from-home if needed. This will keep sick employees away from co-workers, making both parties feel more comfortable. In today’s climate, employees may feel uncomfortable announcing that they are sick, so employers need to encourage honesty and to use discretion to further protect employees. Sick leave policies should also be offered to employees who need to stay home to care for sick family members.
Many businesses have adopted work-from-home options or flexible work hours, which are safer for employees because it decreases their daily social interaction. That being said, not all businesses can accommodate these policies due to budgetary or business model restrictions. Whether your business is participating in full-time remote work, part-time remote work, or a socially distanced office set-up, small businesses should be taking precautions to make workspaces as safe as possible for employees.
Accommodate Work-From-Home Policies if Possible
Businesses who have implemented a work-from-home policy should be sure to remain in constant communication with their employees and reinforce WFH expectations. Working remotely is a great way to make employees feel safe during this time but it also puts businesses at risk of inefficiency and employee burnout. Share guidelines with employees that clearly state company expectations while working remotely.
Employees need the right equipment to successfully work-from-home. Employers should make sure their employees are equipped with the necessities, such as laptops or computer monitors, accessible internet connections, secure remote access to the company’s internal network, and a secure means of communication like Google chat and zoom.
There are also many other innovations today that can make remote work easier for employees. It’s worth staying up-to-date on office trends and supplies like blue light blockers that can benefit your employees and your business. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, employees are spending more time at home on digital devices than they typically would. Unfortunately, the blue light emitted from screens has negative effects on their eyes and mental health. You might consider providing employees with tools like blue light blocking lenses and blue light blocking screen protectors, which can help prevent those negative effects and increase workflow.
Offering your full-time or part-time remote employees the supplies they need to be productive at home will help them avoid employee burnout and keep your small business working efficiently.
Keep Track of Your Finances
Many small businesses have had to make drastic changes to their business model to make sure they can still produce during COVID-19. All of those adjustments add up, whether it be redesigning your office space for better social distancing, setting more precautions into place, or sending your employees to work-from-home with company supplies.
If your business is struggling to gather funds to cover business expenses due to the coronavirus outbreak, look into a small business loan. This can help keep your business functioning and growing during this time and keep your employees safe and secure, which promotes efficiency.
Small businesses are going to have to frequently adjust to current conditions. By taking care of employees and keeping up with new trends, you can continue to support and grow your small business.
This might require you to make multiple adjustments to the plans, goals, and initiatives you have set into place, but as long as you keep your employee’s well-being top of mind your small business can still succeed in 2020 and thereafter.