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  • Retaining Valuable Employees During a Pandemic

    by Janette Blanco | March 26, 2021

    The pandemic has created a lot of new challenges for many business owners. For some, they have been detrimental.

    As a whole, whether you are a business owner or not, these are stressful times for everyone. From mandates to fears of catching the virus or losing your job or business, to being over-worked or placed on furlough, this has not been an easy time for anyone.

    One challenge that may often get overlooked is the ability to retain valuable employees. There are multiple reasons why business owners are struggling with this. Here are the top three struggles employers are facing at the moment:
    • Showing Symptoms: If employees are showing any symptoms, for the safety of customers and other employees, they must quarantine.
    • Furlough: Some businesses were forced to implement a furlough over the past year. This has created a variety of issues for business owners. It seems as though there is a pendulum that swings and on one side there are valuable employees who may take this opportunity to seek new employment elsewhere, or the pendulum swings to the other side and employees get comfortable staying at home and they would rather collect unemployment than return back to work.
    • Overworked and/or Undertrained Employees: When a business owner loses a few (sometimes up to half of their employees at a time) those who continue to work are picking up the slack and are becoming overworked or picking up duties for which they have not been properly trained. Both of these issues could affect their performance which could lead to the business losing valuable customers who are turned off by the lapse in service.
    Whatever the issue may be, business owners have to walk that fine line of having empathy for the employee and at the same time, not let them take advantage of the situation.

    It is important to show appreciation and empathy for employees. If 2020 had a slogan, it would be, “We’re all in this together.” It is a phrase that we heard over and over again. But it’s true, no matter what path we are on, or what issues we are dealing with, we’re all worried, we’re all overworked and over-stressed. This is why it is key to make an effort to retain valuable employees and create a loyalty that encourages them to stick it out rather than seek out employment elsewhere.

    Here are a few recommended solutions for retaining valuable employees:
    • Allow Employees to Work from Home: Many employees are in a financial position in which they cannot afford to lose hours. If they work in a position that cannot be done from home, take the opportunity to cross-train them in new areas. As many of us have discovered over the years, no matter the industry, there is always a task that can be done from home. Allow this opportunity for employees to learn a new skill that will benefit the business as a whole.
    • Professional Development: This is a great time for employees to develop their skills. Search for beneficial webinars or certifications they can earn. This will not only benefit the employee’s development, but also the business. There are many opportunities out there for no-cost professional development at the moment.
    • Show Appreciation: Now more than ever, business owners must show their appreciation for employees. Whether it is verbal or creating a reward or incentive program, employees need to know they are doing a great job. This will be motivation to keep performing at their best, even when they may be overworked or excessively stressed.
    Business owners must get creative with how they treat and reward valuable employees. Treat valuable employees as a target market – get to know them and understand their needs and then make a best effort to fulfill those needs. This will not only help retain these employees now, but also create a loyalty that will encourage them to stay when things return to normal.

    Janette Blanco
    Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County Economic Development Department
    Specialty: Construction Industry Regulations and Licensing, Contract Compliance, Strategic Planning

    Janette Blanco has extensive knowledge in doing business with the government and specializes in assisting minority and women-owned businesses with the government bidding process. She also teaches workshops, provides one-on-one consulting assistance to business owners in English and Spanish, and does community outreach throughout South and East Tampa. Prior to joining the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County, Blanco was a cost estimator on engineering projects as well as owned and operated her own business for 15 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts. She is a Master Compliance Administrator, a Profit Mastery Facilitator, certified in Strategic Management Performance Systems, and a Lean Six Sigma White Belt. Blanco earned Florida SBDC at USF Regional Consultant of the Year honors in 2016 and 2017. Blanco is also bilingual.