How to Support Employees in Times of Need

Many business owners like to think of their team as a family. It’s a nice sentiment, even a noble one, but it’s an idea that often falls apart when the going gets tough. Being a family isn’t just about good working relationships and a sense of camaraderie. It’s about willingness to support each other through the hard times as well. And make no mistake, millions of people are going through hard times right now. That means that now is the time, when your employees need you more than ever, to prove that your team actually is a family, not a “family”. Here are some ways you can help get them through the COVID-19 crisis and ensure they come back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. 

Sharing Resources 

There have been several measures passed at every level of government to help Americans affected by the crisis. For instance, the recently passed CARES Act has extended unemployment benefits to self-employed workers and gig workers, instituted an increase in benefits of $600 per week for up to six months, and extended the benefit period by 13 weeks. Make sure your employees are aware of these changes and be sure to point them in the right direction to file for benefits. The Department of Labor also has a list of guides and resources for affected workers, and there are even handy charts to help determine which benefits your employees are eligible for. But not everyone has the time, patience, or know-how to navigate this occasionally labyrinthine bureaucracy, and your employees may need more than just a link or two. 

Point the Way

As a small business owner you naturally have more experience dealing with arcane procedures and labyrinthine bureaucracy than most of your employees, and now is the perfect time to put that expertise to use. Even a gesture as simple as walking your employees through the process of filing for unemployment and proofreading their paperwork can be a great help to them, whether or not you intend to rehire them when the crisis ends. Whatever you can do to make the process easier – whether filing claims on your employees’ behalf or just translating the financial implications into plain English – will be appreciated now and remembered later, once the world returns to business as usual. 

A Personal Touch

If the current crisis has made you worried or scared about the future, one can only imagine how employees must be feeling. Fear of illness and disruptions to daily life has weighed heavily on everyone, to say nothing of the stress felt by millions of workers as their livelihoods disappear overnight. Your people are hurting, and they’ll be looking to you as a leader to help them get through these stressful, uncertain times.

In a perfect world, business owners would give or loan money to their employees in times like these, but more than likely such magnanimity isn’t an option for business owners who simply cannot afford to maintain payroll. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways to help in lieu of shouldering your employees’ financial burdens. Even small things like checking in on your workers periodically, helping them find side jobs until you can rehire them, sending them a thank you card, or sending them fresh cookies or a homemade casserole can be incredibly meaningful. Every little gesture demonstrates that you care about your people as people, not just workers, and can help engender feelings of loyalty that will last long after the crisis ends.

All for One and One for All

It’s easy to be the captain when sailing on calm seas, but it takes a true leader to steer their ship through severe storms. If you want to get through this with your business and your workforce intact, you’ll need to step up and prove you’re the leader you’ve always known you could be. Whether it’s providing information, assisting with paperwork, or even a simple phone call, anything you can do to help your people will be of great comfort and a lasting reminder that your relationship with your employees isn’t a one-way street. 

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