How to stabilise your business and workforce during Covid-19

Most small businesses are starting to feel the effects of trying to run a business during these uncertain times as a result of covid-19.

How is your business adapting and pivoting to the new way of working and the new requirements expected of your workforce? Are you considering other ways of offering your products and services to come out the other side?

We have already started to see some great examples of how businesses are adapting, such as – gyms hiring out gym equipment for a low cost membership fee to enable customers to carry out online classes from home, clothing manufacturers making hospital scrubs and moisturiser manufacturers making hand sanitiser as well as event companies hosting virtual events.

You may have already started to offer your products and services differently or maybe you are offering different products and services. What are you doing to stabilise your business and your workforce?

There are a range of options available, (some you will need to refer to any relevant awards), including;

  • Review employee hours: with the view to reducing the number of hours or even look at the span of hours for greater coverage.
  • Use leave: to enable employees the option to self isolate or look after family. You might also like to consider paying out leave at half pay.
  • Alternative duties: can be a way to keep employees in work longer. Review the roles where work is declining and where work is increasing to determine what your employees could be working on. How quickly you need to keep assessing duties will depend on the nature of the task or rotation of duties. Work might include assisting with sales and marketing, administrative duties, supporting new business offerings or with finalising services.
  • Learning opportunities: consider training your employees through virtual offerings to assist them to upskill or cross skill. Consider the skill requirements of roles and key functions to assist in determining suitable courses, as well as new software. This can prepare them for work that they are currently doing which may be their role or alternative duties and will enable them to come out the other side and hit the ground running. Another large part of the upskilling opportunity is supporting individual mental wellbeing. Employees can consider doing training around mindfulness, building resilience and effective communication.
  • Ideas and creativity: can go a long way to keeping employees engaged and feeling a sense of connection with the business. Ask employees for suggestions for new products and services your business could offer, new ways of doing things or other tasks your business could be doing during this time. As business owners you can have the final say or you can allow employees to vote on which suggestions to move forward with.

During this time of review, there are also other ways that you can stabilise your business, including;

  • Communicate with your community: to assist in maintaining client relationships by checking in to see how they are managing but also to let them know what is happening within your business.
  • Seek payroll support: from federal and state government bodies and register your interest in accessing job keeper payments. For more information on eligibility and to register visit https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/
  • Review your expenses: to see if you can change or end some of your commitments. You might also need to consider which expenses you can defer or suspend payments on to redirect company funds.
  • Review your human resources strategy: in line with your business plan to realign with the current situation and outline steps to get your business back on track.

While there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment and for how long we also don’t know,  there are some things that can be done to adapt, and to assist your business and employee stability during this time.

For assistance with ideas for your workplace or with reviewing your human resources strategy, contact Small Business Society.

The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required.


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About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.


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