In a time when many small businesses are closing their doors or businesses of all sizes are transitioning to remote work for the first time, employers are making challenging decisions around staffing, workflow, and cost reduction. Numerous articles are surfacing on the economic impact of COVID-19, how small businesses are going to recover (or disappear) in the aftermath, and how the pandemic is illuminating inequalities in worker protections. Zoom in on the chaos, and you can focus on the experience of the employees being directly impacted by the changes - and they are closely watching what employers do next and how they do it.
At Simply Strategy, we already took pride in the flexible framework of the way we work. In fact, we put it to paper in our employee handbook several years ago to show new hires how we create and maintain our positive employee experience. We explicitly state that we believe in giving team members the flexibility to work when they want and also the ability to protect and separate their personal time.
Despite that foundation, these times are requiring our nimble team to still make on-the-fly adjustments. Day cares and schools are closed so some of us are parenting, teaching, and working from home simultaneously. Our social and support networks are disrupted. Sprinkle in the stress and sense of unknown that accompanies something like a pandemic and a global recession, and is it so inconceivable that employees would struggle with feeling engaged? I find myself thinking often about how to support my team so we collectively keep our focus on not just surviving but thriving.
Our support strategy:
While our team is already adept at working from home, early on they had the option to work exclusively from home for their peace of mind and safety, weeks before St. Louis was instituting stay-at-home orders.
We added a standing time on the calendar for collaboration where team members could gather virtually to problem solve and dive deep into issues.
While I am not known to be a great “texter,” I check in with everybody individually to see how they are feeling.
From the start I have been transparent about the financial status of the business and how our work could be impacted in the weeks to come and beyond. I am giving regular updates on cash flow, CARES initiative participation, and sharing my perspective on our financial position.
Any team member can take advantage of paid leave resources at our disposal if their hours are reduced due to childcare demands.
I think I’m most proud of the surprise bonuses paid to the team in March, which acknowledged the good work completed first quarter as well as the fact that they may be facing additional stressors at this time.
While we are extremely fortunate our business has not yet shown signs of a slowdown, we are rapidly putting plans in place to maximize our resources and redirect our energy.
Small businesses are special, and I’m glad policymakers and community business leaders are working to get ahead of what we are likely to face in the coming recession. I also love my job and the enormous leeway I have instituting policies and implementing practices to take care of our most important business asset - our people.
Our team: Jenny, Elyse, Anna, Dorothy, and Reggi