12 Mar Coronavirus Prevention in Your Small Business
The recent pandemic of the Coronavirus has the world in a panic, leaving small businesses asking, “what am I supposed to do?” Large corporations are implementing guidelines and restrictions for their employees, individuals are stocking up on food and paper products, and events and conferences are being canceled. What about small businesses? How can you guide and educate employees while keeping the doors open?
I searched the internet for what I can do as a small business owner and yielded very few results. I’m not a crisis prevention expert or doctor, but I do have a responsibility as an employer to provide education and a preventative plan to my employees- and so do you.
Below are a few things that you can do as a small business owner to educate, empower, and support your employees not just through the pandemic, but in all illness situations.
Review the symptoms with your team so they know what to look out for. The CDC explains the symptoms of COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus) as the following:
• Shortness of breath
The best way to prevent the virus is to limit exposure to the virus. With symptoms presenting themselves 2-14 days after the exposure, it may be difficult to know if you have the virus or not. The best way to prevent the spreading of a virus is to wash your hands, frequently:
• Wash your hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• When soap isn’t available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Employees should be symptom-free for 48 hours before returning to work. Encourage your employees to discuss symptoms and prevention with their spouse and children as well.
Many employees are afraid to stay home when they’re sick because they don’t want to lose pay, get behind in their work, or fear that their employer will look at them negatively. Empower and require your employees to stay home or go home at the first sign of symptoms, or after exposure to someone with the virus.
Provide disinfectant sprays and wipes and encourage your employees to clean their work stations, door handles, and other high-traffic areas of your office (such as the kitchen and the bathroom) daily.
Explain the importance of WHY you should stay home when you’re sick:
• The proper time to rest, hydrate, and heal
• Prevents spreading the illness to your colleagues, which often spreads to their families
• Sets the standard that self-care is crucial and important to you and your organization
Encourage your employees to care for themselves, even when they’re not sick:
• Get plenty of rest each night
• Eat nutrient-rich foods and beverages to boost your immune system
• Unplug – working around the clock causes burnout and lowered immune systems
• Hydrate daily
• Take breaks
• Get out in the sun
• Practice good hygiene
Review your sick leave policy with your employees including notification policies and paid/unpaid sick leave (be sure to check your State policies).
Remember that your employees are people first. Support them by:
• Being available for questions and providing necessary documents that outline their options
• Look to see how you and other employees can support them by dividing and delegating tasks to lessen the workload upon their return
• Form a soup and hydration team to make nutritious foods that can be dropped off to sick coworkers
• Be kind, patient, and understanding
If Coronavirus has a severe impact on your organization, the SBA is offering several options to provide relief to your organization, such as low-interest economic loans ($50 billion available), tax relief, and proposed payroll tax relief. Check the SBA for updates and approved plans.
The health and safety of you and your employees should be your number one priority in this and all situations. Remember to stay calm, be open, and care for your team the way you would want someone to care for your loved ones.