Before you received your Paycheck Protection Program loan or any other loan, you might have had to lay off some or all your employees. Well, now is the time to get them ready to come back! But you may think your business is not conducive to remote work. Hair stylists cannot cut hair remotely. Doggie day cares cannot care for your pet remotely.
Think long term, not short term. When you receive your loan for the Paycheck Protection Program you could let your employees stay at home and do nothing. But why? Not my staff! First and foremost, anything that is income-generating must be done first thing every day. But what to do the rest of the time?
Here are some ideas for keeping your employees busy:
- Deep Clean. Is your business an essential business and open to the public, but slow? Use the extra time between customers to clean and let the public know what you are doing to maintain sanitary conditions. The CDC has posted guidelines for sanitizing and disinfecting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is your business closed to the public now, but allowed to have employees come in? Assign employees to wipe down baseboards, dust blinds, clean windows, and steam-clean carpets. Paint areas you need to paint. Pick up trash outside. Clean up landscaping. Clean the keyboard that has a lot of food crumbs wedged in it.
- Get Organized. Go through file cabinets, rearrange furniture for a more efficient work flow. Shred documents. Has your accountant or tax attorney been nagging you to bring in tax documentation? Take the time to prepare those reports for them or implement the accounting changes they asked you to make. Now is the time to organize that plastic bin of receipts and have an employee learn QuickBooks or another accounting software instead of putting it off. Why outsource that if an employee can do it? Tax deadlines may have been extended to July, but you do not have to wait to prepare your documentation. Beat the rush so that in July you can focus on serving your clientele, not on preparing your taxes.
- Train. Have you been wanting to teach your employees new techniques or procedures? Even if you can’t meet in person, this can be done through an office Zoom call or utilizing courses on the web. Does your industry have continuing education requirements? Pay your employees their hourly rate to complete the courses. They will be grateful not to have to do this on their own time, and you will benefit from their new knowledge by keeping them on payroll. Even if continuing education classes are not required, there are many online course options available on topics relevant to your business. Each employee can become an expert in a niche area and be the go-to person for that software in the future.
- Create or Update Company Procedures. Assign someone to update (or create) an employee manual. Create daily, weekly or monthly checklists. Update job descriptions. These documents will make it easier to train new employees later on and help your current employees think of more efficient ways of doing tasks. Ask your employees to brainstorm ways to do routine tasks more efficiently. This can easily be done at home or over the phone.
- Start a Delivery Service. Just because your company did not deliver before does not mean it cannot now. Local businesses such as restaurants that never delivered before are now assigning wait staff and other employees to deliver orders. Others are bringing it in-house instead of using third parties. And one bonus is that if you are in control of the delivery staff, you do not pay commissions to the third-party apps. Customers want to support their favorite businesses directly and are looking for no-contact means of delivery these days.
- Boost your Social Media Presence or Create a Company Website or Blog. This is one your employees can do from their own home even if they cannot come in to the office. Nearly everyone has a smart phone and apps. Increase your LinkedIn connections. Network with former colleagues and classmates with whom you have lost touch. Keep your business name in the public mind and expand your reach. Employees can write your web copy, upload photos, and contribute in other ways. Make fun team-building videos for social media (i.e., clips of staff passing something from left of screen to right of screen so it looks like they are passing the objects to each other). Use their creativity.
- Research Your Competition. Are you a lawyer? Get to know an opposing attorney’s strategy or Google a judge to find out everything you can – does the judge like puppies? Then you can strategize accordingly. In retail sales? Go shopping online to check out costs for unusual but desirable products and compare those prices to your own. Are you in the self-care or beauty industry? Find out the services your competition is already offering and master them. Learn fresh poses so you can twist yourself into strange-looking pretzels, then prepare notes for teaching your yoga classes. Study new techniques for the latest trends in coloring your clients’ hair. Let the research be a springboard for professional innovation.
- Rethink your product. Wholesale grocers are selling directly to the community. Distilleries are converting to produce hand sanitizer. Mommy and Me classes have moved online. Gyms are posting workouts for people to do at home. My favorite is Fit Culture, on Daniel Island, South Carolina.
- Give Back to the Community. Newborn photographers are donating free editing to those who have had to take their own newborn pictures during the pandemic. Restaurants have utilized their cooks to assist Meals on Wheels or cook for their own staff. Donate blood while wearing your company shirt. Seamstresses are making masks, and fabric stores are donating supplies. Give back using the gifts of your business, and use your social media presence to let others know. Encourage your employees to wear their company t-shirts and take daily walks.
- Have Employees Do Something at Home That Will Help Them as an Employee. Your employees can learn how to meal plan nutritious meals or organize their pantry. Maybe they need to organize their home office or develop a workout routine. Have them take before and after photos and let you know why they think the changes will make them better employees. When you support your employees’ well-being, they will support you. We are in this together.
Remember stay-at-home orders vary from city to city and state to state, so check your local order for what is allowed at your location. Not every idea will work for every business. Please share your ideas with us in the comments. We all learn from each other.