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Handling the Stress of Covid-19

  • May 4, 2020
  • Written by Community Futures Meridian

During these strange times you will find yourself in one of three situations: You are single-person business with only yourself to worry about (and perhaps your family); you have employees that are still working in some capacity (possibly remotely); or you have had to lay off some or all your employees. It doesn’t matter which category you fall into, you are likely facing a great deal of stress. In this article we’ll briefly look at some of things you can do to reduce your own stress, and that of your family and employees.

We all need to realize that it’s not business as usual, but what is it? Take a long, hard look at the situation you find yourself in and don’t panic. In our first article this month, we talked about some of the things you can do to get through these tough and turbulent times. This is a time when you as the business owner need to step up to the plate. Your company, even if it’s a one-man-band, needs leadership like never before. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the situation or fool yourself into thinking that it will all be over soon and all you need to do is wait it out.

It’s important to take stock of your current position and avoid any knee-jerk decisions. Many retailers quickly laid off staff before realizing that all the new reality needed was a new plan, not shutters on the doors. Many have since reopened, albeit in a limited capacity. The large wine emporium mentioned in the previous article is reporting steady business with online orders and curbside pickup which is keeping its employees busy and bringing in much needed revenue. They may not be doing as well as before the pandemic but they are surviving and keeping customers satisfied and employees safe.

Once you have taken a long, hard look at where you are and what your options might be, do some research and make a plan. Without a plan you are in danger of letting quickly changing circumstances control you and your business.

If you have employees put yourself in their shoes; see the situation from their perspective. Do the same with respect to your family. Ask yourself, if you were them what would you like to know? How would you expect your boss/spouse to perform? Provide them with as much information as you can and if you can't answer a question, admit it and assure them that as soon as you know the answer you will share it with them Avoid providing partial information. There's nothing worse than being told something good or bad might be happening but not having the details. Remember uncertainty and not knowing, cause more problems than even bad news. Without a reliable narrative, people tend to create their own. When they do that you lose control. Provide regular updates to both your staff and your family. Be honest with everyone you deal with – this is not a time to play games.

Be consistent. Don't say one thing one day and go in a different direction the next – that’s why you need a plan. There's an old saying, “Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.” In these days of uncertainty be careful not overreact or underreact to the point you unnecessarily endanger the future of your business.

Finally, be upbeat. There's enough gloom and doom around to last a lifetime. Yes, things are bad but spend a little time focusing on the positive things such as the strength of your team and new lessons learned. Compliment staff on a job well done. Sure things are tough, and it's okay to acknowledge that, but at the same show your faith in the long term future of your business. Aim for a happy mid-point between realism and being optimistic, one that sees you and your team as stronger than before this dreadful virus threw us all off balance.

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