Even the most imaginative of risk-management plans could be excused for not including a contingency for a global pandemic of this magnitude, that has sent planet earth into total pandemonium. Many business owners have been terribly affected by the unforeseeable catastrophe of COVID-19, regrettably forced to lay off staff or ‘grant’ them unpaid leave. No one saw this coming, and mature, established companies have been taken all the way back to square one.
However, there are some fortunate businesses, that for one reason or another, have the ability to weather the storm and keep their team on their payroll. If you have this privilege – and it is a privilege – you are dually encouraged to do so. Or alternatively, you will do so, as you are prompted to do so by the 3 key decision-making considerations in behavioural psychology: a social incentive, a moral incentive, and an economic incentive.
Social: You know your staff, you love them, you have grown together, your kids have grown together; you do not want to let them go unless you absolutely have to.
Moral: We’re in the face of a global recession, in which thousands will lose their jobs and not manage to pay the bills, driving up delinquency rates, etc, etc; you are inclined to play your part in stabilizing the economy.
Economic: This incentive, by far the most subjective, is the basis of this article. A shortsighted business owner is economically inclined to let their staff go, for obvious reasons. A smart business owner sees grand opportunity in standing by their team during these tough times for two key reasons:
- The trust and belief you can build by acting as a ‘constant in a world full of variables’ will last for a lifetime. Your staff will repay you with loyalty, and higher retention rates and a motivated team will usually lead to long term economic success.
- Practically, you can astutely apply your employees during this time to attend to all the non-urgent,yet important projects that you’ve never had the chance to explore. This time will inevitably be slow on the sales/client/service/product end of your business, so you will have to be dynamic…but if you get it right, this is your chance to iron out inefficiencies, prepare yourself for scale, and leapfrog the competition.
More specifically, this is the basis of this article.
It’s a nice concept, in theory, but that’s not good enough. You are likely incurring a serious risk by supporting your staff through COVID-19, and the devil on your right shoulder tells you to let them go. So here, direct from MultiplyMii to the angel on your left shoulder – 5 important tasks to justify keeping your staff, even if business is slow:
1. Migrate Everything Offline –> Online
In the 2008 recession, the startups to experience mega-growth were the unique companies that turned the Ordinary Joe into a potential small-business owner, such as Uber and Airbnb. Early signs suggest that the coronavirus winners will be the companies that turn the Ordinary Bedroom into a workplace, such as Zoom Video and all cloud computing services. This is a sign of times to come, where remote work and flexibility are the rules; and 9 to 5, suit and tie is the outdated exception.
If you’re reading this and pompously excluding your industry from this transition, think again. All trends suggest that COVID-19 has only advanced the inevitable, and you should use this time to make sure you’re as versatile as possible. Any paperwork, any documentation that is not cloud-based, any task that is bound to a specific computer – there’s no room for that anymore.
Gather your team and ask them to write down all the tasks they perform, period. Even this process will get your juices flowing. Sit down with each employee and break down each task into individual steps. Everything that is digital and cannot be performed remotely is an inefficiency; or rather, a risk. Brainstorm clever ways to transition as much of your process online as possible. If the software that you’re using prevents dynamic work, then perhaps it’s the wrong software for you. This process is a form of risk mitigation and if you’re harsh on yourself, the challenge will galvanize your team.
2. Implement a Project Management Tool
As a growing business, if you’re not feeling the need for a project management tool, you’re probably not moving fast enough. The other option is that you’re inefficiently staffed, but if we go down that route, we’ve defeated the purpose of this article.
Online project management tools, such as Monday, Trello or Asana, allow you to visually map your team’s tasks and extend your bandwidth by up to 100%. Used correctly, these operating systems prevent tasks from falling between the cracks, and help you stay focused while juggling countless responsibilities.
The pain point is the implementation, as most companies never find the time to dedicate to setting up the management tool effectively. It is a team-wide effort, as everyone needs to learn to customize and create SOP’s (standard operating procedures) so that the tool can help you gain time, not lose it.
3. Conduct a Business Audit
This may seem too high level, but it doesn’t need to be. With many consultants out of work and affordable options for small-business audits, you can take this opportunity to put all your team under the microscope and receive practical, useful deliverables from management experts. This is the perspective you’ve been lacking for years – an external, fresh set of eyes to convey to you how you can improve your operation. Depending on the audit, this can include detection of inefficiencies, bottle-necks, management concerns, and employee dissatisfaction.
Ensure that you correctly communicate with your team the purpose of this audit, as they naturally will fear the worst. You will require their co-operation to prepare all the documentation – prepare for this to be time-consuming. The results will be delivered quickly, and it can be performed entirely remotely. Good luck!
For more information about small-business audits, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Build a Workplace Upskilling and Educational Program
Job seekers are placing an increasing value on personal development as one of the key considerations when choosing their workplace, even above job security. Upskilling is a true win-win, as your employee gainfully learns a new skill that can be implemented to improve your business.
At MultiplyMii, we have a curated list of books for our internal team that all add priceless value. 50% of the time spent reading these books can be billed to MultiplyMii, provided they share their learnings with their team in a quick presentation at the end of the read. It’s amazing for employee satisfaction and team culture, as well as ensuring that we are always growing from within.
Ask each employee to propose an upskilling program that would benefit their daily operation – improve, approve and begin to implement it. Ensure that it is meticulously documented so that it can be recycled for new employees in the future. Additionally, encourage the learning and personal growth of your team by frequently sharing some of your personal upskilling projects too!
5. Create Video Training for EVERYTHING
Recruiting and onboarding new staff is the most critical stage of the growth of any business. While it would take a fearless warrior to go on a hiring spree right now, you can adequately prepare yourself for when the time comes. Documenting all of your processes into video-training courses has both overt and covert benefits. Obviously, creating a full onboarding program makes every hire or org-chart shift a relatively hands-off task, which is important as you naturally forge change when you are at your busiest. Less visibly, the act of recording all of your processes will place the spotlight on the tiniest of tasks and raise important questions on their effectiveness.
Using Loom Video, you can easily capture your face and screen simultaneously to explain exactly how you perform all of your tasks. Loom Video has slashed 50% off their subscription plans to help companies during COVID-19, so don’t miss out!
P.S – If you’re an employee reading this, fearful of the next phone call from your boss, feel free to reach out to us. We can anonymously send them this article and, just maybe, help you keep your job.
MultiplyMii will be releasing frequent content to help your business thrive during the COVID-19 working regulations.