The 3 Most Valuable Things Entrepreneurs Can Be Doing for Their Team Right Now No matter how your business has been impacted, your team needs its leader more than ever.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You may be worried about your business, but you aren't the only one stressed out. Right now, your team members are worried about their careers, their families and their futures. No matter how much the current public health- and econimic-crisis has impacted you, your team needs its leader now more than ever.
Even if you've avoided eliminating positions in your business thus far, people are worried. Unemployment numbers have already hit record highs, and Gallup reports that a quarter of American employees fear they'll lose their jobs.
Workers and companies fortunate enough to stay open during quarantine orders still face unique challenges. Employees who have never worked from home now spend every hour indoors. People who loved to flaunt their extroverted selves on weekends now make do with videoconferences and virtual Netflix parties. In uncharted territory with a muddled future, entrepreneurs must not abandon their teams in their moment of greatest need.
Keep your team safe, supported and productive by acting as their most valuable ally. Here's a guide to getting started.
1. Help insulate them from financial hardship
People who worry about their financial situations miss work more frequently than their financially secure peers. Concerns about financial stability also affect productivity on the job. Ironically, the people who need money the most are more likely to call in sick or fail to do their best work.
Give workers the leg up they need by empowering them to create some distance from the threat of financial hardship. Help employees access financial aid resources and save for the future by working with a small business 401(k) provider like Guideline. Look for a low-fee provider that makes it as easy as possible for employees to manage their retirement to show you care about their financial future.
Other perks, such as paid sick leave and competitive salaries, can help alleviate the stress of bills and security. New generations saddled with college debt also appreciate student loan repayment assistance. Take care of your employees, and they'll return the favor by bringing their best selves to work every day.
2. Get proactive about checking in
Open-door policies force employees to instigate. Someone who has a problem doesn't want to barge in and ruin your day, especially if you're as busy as most small business owners. You may believe that making yourself available is enough, but that mindset could lead your best employees to leave for greener pastures if they don't feel heard.
Rather than take a passive role in your team's well-being, take it upon yourself to bring up potential issues before they drive your best workers away. Schedule regular one-on-one talks to discuss topics not related to current projects. What would your employees like to see changed? Which challenges have stuck with them over the past few weeks? Do they get along with their peers? You don't have to act on every small complaint, but by offering a sympathetic ear, you can at least keep small issues from growing into big problems.
When you check in with your team, keep it visual. Remote team members appreciate videoconferences when they can't make it into the office. In permanent work-from-home situations, fly employees in at least twice a year to maintain personal connections.
3. Relax or eliminate excessive rules
Cut the bloat from your employee handbook and role descriptions. As businesses grow, isolated incidents lead founders to create companywide rules that may not facilitate productivity as much as they hinder workers's ability to do their jobs. By slashing your guidelines to the bare minimum, you demonstrate to employees that you trust their good judgment.
A display of trust proves to employees that you believe in their honesty and productivity without the need for frivolous guidelines. Your workers have enough to deal with outside of the (home) office; don't add to their misery by piling on new remote work regulations. If anyone abuses the freedom, have a serious conversation or find someone new who doesn't. A person who wants to slack will find a way, rules or no rules, but a dedicated worker doesn't need rules to flourish.
Monitor performance metrics in this new normal, and set expectations based on that reality. You may discover that productivity spikes in certain areas and craters in others. Let employees work how and when they can, then play the evaluator once you have a more defined plan.
Your workers look to you as both a leader and as an example of how to handle tough situations. Give them an example worth following by investing in their happiness and encouraging a sense of community at work. When you show your employees that you care, they'll internalize that lesson and treat their colleagues with the same respect.