The pandemic foisted changes on society that reset the context for your company, its employees and professionals, but just because the crisis is over doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate the changes you made into your future strategy. In responding to COVID-19, you publicly and unambiguously elevated employees’ health and well-being to a high priority. Even after lockdowns are lifted, that change in emphasis is not easily reversed.
As the pandemic recedes, can you create a new work world to keep employees happy and productive? The pandemic has challenged conventional thinking about work.
Employees will expect to have the right to take charge of their situations. They will expect employers to consider their individual circumstances, like caregiving obligations, when designing roles and evaluating performance. Employees likely will have personal challenges competing for their energy and attention.
Leading your employees with kindness will be just as crucial after the pandemic. Actively listen, check in, and offer support and understanding. Help connect employees to necessary resources, acknowledge their efforts and thank them generously. Challenge your people to engage in activities that demonstrate compassion for others.
Find out how employees would like to work — at home or in the office. You’ll need an honest, collective and internally public conversation. Prioritize face time at the office: Employees who choose to return are doing so because they need the opportunities for mentorship and networking that an office provides. However, as much as some employees will crave the return of in-person social connections, they may still choose the flexibility virtual work provides — less time to commute, and more time with family and pets. Some will try to split the difference, working from home part of the week.
Focus on cleanliness standards. Does the public come through your workplace? People’s eyes have been opened to how easily germs spread in public places, and they want businesses to adhere to health and safety practices. Even if pandemic-era legal standards for retail and food service workplaces don’t stick around, customers will appreciate companies that make an extra effort.
Look toward the future
When you started your business, most likely you had a passion for a specific product or niche or for helping others in your community and a strong desire to be a business owner. Now you may find that the post-pandemic world is an opportunity to recommit to your purpose in having a business and how you want it to flourish:
- Look for ways to refine your business idea and to increase its potential for making a profit by conducting research to make sure you’re filling a gap in customer needs in the market as it is now.
- Test your idea with shoppers, and ask for their feedback through surveys.
- Re-create a business plan with a new purpose that reflects your company’s core values, detailing how your product or service provides a service that customers need.
- How have your financial projections changed? Do you need to get new funding from investors? Have you considered running a crowdfunding campaign?
- Networking is an essential resource for small businesses, but staying in touch was harder than ever in 2020. Now is the time to renew these vital connections. Reengage in social media platforms. Reconnect with mentors and fellow professionals from your past. Keep up to date on upcoming industry events. Think of ways you can leverage your network.
But most of all, be kind to yourself. You have endured the pandemic and continue to manage a more stressful life both at work and at home. Acknowledge this, and seek support to promote your own mental wellness and that of your employees as well.