Getting back to business after extended lockdowns and shutdowns due to the coronavirus will be challenging in many widely publicized ways, from safety and social distancing to capacity, logistics, and the surrounding economic uncertainty.
What the reports and forecasts don’t tell you is that your employees need to be ready for a reboot—not simply a return or restart, but rather, reimagination. Leadership can be very lonely, but your employees need something new and exciting to remind them why they enjoy working for you. Show your commitment by investing in your business.
New equipment purchases, such as faster laptops, larger monitors, or more technical machinery, are symbols to your employees that you care and are investing into the future. New software programs that optimize business processes and functions signify internal improvement as well. Many businesses are now required to update their offices and facilities in order to meet new public health codes; we suggest taking those measures a step further and envisioning what your team can truly use to work happier, healthier, and more productively.
New Product or Service
The businesses that survive recessions are those that adapt and improvise. What product or service can you add to supplement your core business? Meet with your team and engage them in an open forum for their ideas. For example, a metal manufacturer recently added to their product offerings elegant, ornate staircases, using their shop and expertise in a completely unique way outside of their everyday routine. It is kind of like cross-training to enhance your overall fitness or learning a new language to stimulate the brain.
Innovation enlivens your workforce. If you are able to pivot to a product or service that contributes to the greater good, even better. One of the uplifting storylines during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the number of businesses meeting immediate and urgent needs. Printing companies are making face shields. Distilleries are producing hand sanitizers. Restaurants are serving hospital workers. Hotels are providing quarantine housing. While many of these efforts have been temporary, charitable, and/or government-funded during the crisis, the road ahead will require the same ingenuity with the additional factor of long-term viability. The work may not hit the bottom line, but employees feel like they are making a difference and helping a cause.
Most successful business owners cite people as their single most important investment. Now, more than ever, is a time to humanize your approach as a leader. Check in on your employees who are working from home. Send them each a bottle of wine and host a virtual happy hour on video chat. Start all meetings in a personal way and let people connect socially before discussing work.
When you are all back in the workplace, empower your people to grow and thrive. You are weathering a difficult time together, which means you are becoming stronger every day—individually, as a team, and as a company.