A Post First-Wave Planner for Small Businesses

6. Human Resources

  • Focus on a retention plan that retains your most skilled and valued workers, those who are most likely to take advantage of offers to work elsewhere in the aftermath of a crisis.
  • Enact policies that provide workplace flexibility. You will likely experience increased absenteeism and a loss of productivity as employees process the crisis. Individuals have had to make significant changes and adjust their standard of living suddenly. Consideration of their circumstances will be helpful to their retention. Prioritize people over projects and profits as you resume operations and transition into getting back to normal.
  • Inform employees in any changes to your on-site health policies, such as those related to monitoring temperatures and symptoms, administering COVID tests and sending workers home who test positive or have symptoms.
  • Consider how to protect the confidential medical information of employees as you protect your workforce from infection and illness.
  • Identify job sharing possibilities in your business and consider creating shifts so that work can be conducted while adhering to social distancing and public health guidelines.
  • Increase certainty by helping employees outline the goals they want to achieve during this time. With sudden changes to operating plans, many projects or previously set goals might now be irrelevant. Resetting priorities during this time will help employees feel a sense of control and direction.
  • Understand that there will be long-term psychological trauma caused by widespread fear, panic and grief. If you have an Employee Assistance Program in place, remind employees to take advantage of it. If you don’t, think about developing one. Chances are good you will face other crises down the road.
  • The business recovery process is immense, stressful and labor intensive. But do not overlook the need to address the mental health of your employees and to assure them regularly that their hard work has purpose and progress is being made,
  • Identify local, state and federal health agencies that may have programs in place to assist workers with trauma and readjustment.
  • Assess the short- and long-term impacts on your employees and their families. This is not the time to be a clock-watcher. Things will find a new rhythm – be patient and be kind. You are not the only one experiencing stress right now.
  • Recognize the importance of human connection and find ways to facilitate continued collaboration and social interaction.
  • Build in some fun. Any crisis is stressful, even after it has passed. Find little things to celebrate and allow a little frivolity here and there so everyone can blow off steam. Even without a crisis, the workplace can be extremely stressful. Let your employees (and yourself) decompress a bit and celebrate the fact that, at least at the moment, things are relatively normal again.
  • Consider subscriptions for your staff to mindfulness apps that help with anxiety. Headspace, AnxietyCoach and Happify are all ADAA-reviewed mental health apps that can help in a variety of ways. There are also companies designed specifically with employees in mind such as Modern Health, which offer in-person or over-the-phone support through therapy, digital resources and certified coaches.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness that working remotely had on your business and your employees. You may discover that your employees can still be productive working remotely, either full- or part-time. You may be able to reduce square footage and related costs as you rebuild revenue.
  • Provide resources on how to mitigate distractions and effectively work from home. Provide managers with information on how to effectively support and coach employees remotely.