There’s no denying the pandemic is taking a toll in a variety of ways. The most obvious, of course, is the health of people around the world who have contracted COVID-19. Statistics on illness and death have become ever-present in our newsfeeds.
We can’t ignore the emotional and mental strain as the pandemic continues. A recent article from medium.com explained that after months of feeling under siege, our “surge capacity” is depleted – our internal coping mechanisms work for short-term emergencies, not chronic situations like the one we are now experiencing.
We continue to talk to premium appliance dealers around the country, and we hear lots of stories about sales teams that have been in overdrive for months. Pent-up demand from the first months of the pandemic has run headlong into a supply chain disruption. High-end home builders are not slowing down, and frustrated homeowners don’t want to hear that their new appliances are on backorder.
To put it simply: everyone is exhausted.
There have been plenty of stories about large companies like Ally or Target that have offered additional pay and benefits to employees. Smaller companies are making seemingly permanent shifts to remote work or 4-day work weeks as an acknowledgment of the increased pressure many feel in their new work/life balance.
While some of those adjustments aren’t feasible because of your size or the type of business you are, the underlying goal of encouraging and showing gratitude to your employees is one you can achieve in other ways.
Here are some ideas for action right now: (With any of these, we continue to encourage you to follow CDC guidelines and your local directives for safety.)
Bring in a Meal
You don’t have to have a reason to bring in breakfast or lunch for your team. The fact that everyone made it in today is reason enough. Pick up pastries and coffee or have lunch delivered. And make sure you order from a locally owned restaurant – they could use the support!
“Just Because” Gifts
Stop by your locally owned coffee shop and pick up a stack of $10 gift cards to hand out to your team. Gift cards for local restaurants, delivery services, grocery stores, or even gas stations are a good idea, too. Small gifts from a favorite locally-owned business (candy or specialty foods are always great) are a way to support a fellow small business owner and encourage your team.
If you have department managers, empower them to give a gift to everyone on their team. Don’t make a big production out of these giveaways – find ways to give them out along with a word of encouragement and thanks.
Extra Time Off
Odds are your team has been coming in early, staying late, and working through breaks to keep up with the changing dynamics of your business. As a small business owner, you have the freedom to adapt to changes as they happen. Here’s a way you can do that.
Give the members of your team an extra day off (beyond what they already have earned or scheduled), and encourage them to take the day in the next few weeks. Work to stagger schedules so no one feels overly burdened, but give your folks a chance to step away and catch their breath. (And make sure you do the same yourself.)
Throw a (Socially Distanced) Party
Shut down your showroom early one evening and celebrate your team. Have dinner catered, bring a few fun party games for those who want to play, and let everyone relax for an hour or two. If you’ve got a good team, they enjoy each other’s company and would appreciate having the chance to unwind before they go home.
Some of the extras you might have used as staff rewards are not available right now (like tickets for sports or community events). And while in the past you may have used these rewards as incentives, right now, we’d encourage you to think more about how you can show appreciation to your employees. They’re working hard for you during a unique situation that is impacting their lives at work and at home. Taking some extra steps to encourage your team will help boost morale and remind everyone that we’re all in this together.