As a business owner or entrepreneur navigating a post-pandemic landscape for the first time, you have an important responsibility of acting as a leader both personally and professionally during a time of uncertainty.
After experiencing a year of transition to remote work, virtual meetings, and limited travel, business owners and entrepreneurs alike have been forced to take on a unique set of circumstances coupled with varying degrees of challenges.
This is on top of employees feeling constrained as statistics show there has been a 3% median income decrease compared to the 2019 median income.
Although this can feel a bit overwhelming to take on alone, moving into this next phase can offer new ways to grow your business and support your employees, without sacrificing your own needs in the process.
Create company wellness initiatives or programs
As a business owner juggling work, new acquisitions, employees, clients, bills, and more, it’s critical that you operate at your best both mentally and physically. If you are neglecting your own health and wellness needs, it’s unlikely that you will be able to sustain such a demanding job.
A great way to show your company that you value your own health and wellness as much as theirs is to improve wellness initiatives and encourage employees to take advantage of these benefits.
The pandemic has impacted every single individual in a different way and it’s important to recognize this in order to deal with changes in a healthy manner and not neglect our physical self in the process.
As a leader, it’s important that you practice what you preach. By prioritizing your personal and professional wellness, employees will be more likely to do the same.
Taking time to review corporate wellness trends for the coming year, you can create some company wellness goals or programs to help your employees feel their best so they can operate at their best. Even things like getting clear teeth aligners or other personal care can help.
And incorporating stress management practices, convenient telemedicine appointments, or financial wellness learning opportunities, you can make your employees feel valued and appreciated.
Show support for your employees’ personal future
The impacts of the pandemic have affected the lives of many individuals in a very personal way. It’s critical that employees have open communication with their managers and employers who might be affected in their absence.
If you weren’t thinking much about your health prior to the pandemic, you might have a new perspective at this time. Consider what would happen should you no longer be around to support those who rely on you. People like your spouse, children, employees, or work partner. Since it’s a good time to protect yourself financially in the short and long term, you should encourage your employees to practice this too.
By providing access to information and resources that can help your employees plan for their future amidst uncertainty, you can create a more personal connection. You can encourage them to do amazing things such as:
- build an emergency fund,
- create a plan for retirement,
- contribute to their 401k,
- or apply for life insurance to better protect and secure their future.
The sooner employees begin investing, the better off they will be down the road. Purchasing a policy or contributing to retirement early allows you to save money. You can encourage them to start small and build their way up. In terms of life insurance specifically, you can likely lock in lower rates as you are younger and healthier with little risk of illness or unexpected death.
Alternatively, you can encourage them to have smarter budgeting practices or encourage personal finance courses. Here is a simple guide for setting up a budget and some tips to consider.
Lead by example
As a business owner and leader, you are constantly paving the wave for other professionals, employees, and fellow entrepreneurs. These individuals will be looking at the ways you scale and grow your business. Those who recognize your achievements and look up to you as a business leader often want to learn how to create something similar for themselves or within their business. As such, there are many ways that you can manage and lead by example in an efficient way. A good starting point is by instilling positive habits within your working environment.
Understanding that you have a team of people relying on you each day and watching the way you handle situations can hold you accountable for your actions. Although everyone has off days from time to time, you are not expected to be perfect as a leader. You are put into a position where you’re expected to do the right thing.
Even if you’ve mishandled a situation or client, or possibly took the wrong approach to fix a problem.
Leadership goes well beyond production. There is a human layer to this that can have lasting impacts on your employees and those around you. If you are able to improve on this skill and learn the best way to deal with new circumstances.
Take an interest in your employees career goals
It’s clear that business owners must constantly juggle responsibilities. They need to be able to wear various hats in order to run a smooth operation. With that being said, it’s important to invest in your employees and their careers. In most cases, your people are what make your company successful and great. Having a positive employee retention rate is a good standard of how satisfied your employees are with their job. But this isn’t the only way to tell this. Oftentimes numbers can be deceiving, especially if you have a lot of entry-level positions. Employees eventually grow out of those positions. And if there is no progression they will likely move to other things.
In order to keep your great employees that serve a large value to your team and company overall, you must continue to understand their career desires and interests. Consider revamping your employee career development program to include some more recent best practices. This way, you can further identify areas of improvement for this employee and help guide their direction toward that position. The more employees you are able to promote internally, the better retention you will have. Furthermore, you’re creating more dedication that employees feel towards your company.
Make a point of checking in with your employees, survey their needs, and inquire about their professional goals. Staying connected with your employees will give you a better handle on internal growth and progression.
Recognize success and provide regular feedback
An easy and free way to make employees feel supported and appreciated is through verbal recognition within the company. This helps motivate the employees to get recognition to continue to do great work. It encourages others to do the same knowing that managers are taking notice of their hard work.
Of course, everyone should be working hard to contribute more as their skills improve. However, exceptional work or service should stand out and be acknowledged to keep employees pushing towards their full potential.
In addition, providing feedback about areas of improvement can be just as important and helpful to an employee. If employees are able to recognize where certain skills might be lacking and identify ways they can improve, there are more measurable ways to show growth and progress. Not only does this help you as a business manager and leader, but it helps instill employee confidence too.
Promote virtual learning and training opportunities for your employees
For furhter professional development accountablability, it’s helpful to have some company learning and training opportunities in place. This could be through training programs or flexible mentorship style programs that allows employees to learn from one another.
Since the pandemic has changed how offices are structured, there is more collaboration within teams and overall meetings. Virtual training is a great alternative tool to help employees connect and grow professionally.
By providing access to training tools or connecting employees interdepartmentally, you can create convenient access to professional development that your employees can take advantage of. Again, the more confident your employees are in work, the more value they can provide the company.
Invest in technology solutions
Business leaders should always be looking for technology solutions that can enhance the quality or quantity of production. By implementing new technologies, employees can spend more time on creative work. This is better since most monotonous tasks can be done with tools or programs.
Investing in newer technologies will need further budgeting of course. But oftentimes, these investments will be able to pay for itself in a short period of time. This is due to the perks of technology in the workplace including:
- Employee efficiency,
- And overall satisfaction.
With the changing landscape of the past year, now is a good time to consider upgrading technology. Especially as employees come back to work. With so much transition to address, having the technology to support in person or remote employees is extremely beneficial. Possibly reducing the need to share equipment can save employees time and help them work more proactively.
Showing your employees that you are not only interested in their ability to get the job done effectively, but to create something they are proud of will be worth any investment you make. Convenience and access to technology can only make your company that much better. As such, it will be worth the investment in the long run.
Encourage work-life balance for your employees
Lastly, it’s critical that you remain empathetic to the ways employees’ personal lives have been impacted. Not just over the last year, but long term too. It’s healthy for everyone to maintain a sense of work-life balance, especially during times of stress and uncertainty. Although many are transitioning back into pre-pandemic work settings, it’s important that you are aware of balance and time away from work.
In order to ensure everyone is respectful of one another’s work-life balance, you can create some internal boundaries surrounding communication. You might want to request that employees only contact you and each other via email instead of chat or phone call during certain hours of the day. You can also implement procedures in the case of crisis where an employee needs to get a hold of you or another employee.
This way, everyone can enjoy their time away from work stress free, and only be contacted during a unique circumstance in their preferred mode of communication. While certain industries with required emergency services might have their own set of rules, most 9-5 style businesses won’t need all employees available after work hours. Although this might take some initial coordination, doing so can save a lot of personal time and allow employees to focus on work during their specified hours and enjoy their time off without added stress.
As you grow as a business leader and professional, it’s important to focus on company goals, but also employees goals. Making progress in various manners can help you empower and encourage your workforce to build careers they are passionate about. By dedicating your time to their success, you will in turn reap the benefits of their production and forward professional progress.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon