What if your team does not want to come back?
What if you threw a party and nobody showed-up? You worked hard, planned well and just sat there. Waiting. And waiting.
This could be what some employers do after people starting opening up again following the shelter in place orders in many areas. There could be a party of none, although it’s doubtful. But certainly something to consider.
As many of you know I really enjoy talking to both business owners and their teams. I don’t ever try to put my ear to the ground by only talking to the owners. In fact, I usually get much better information talking to the staff at a business than I do the owners.
There is a lot of wisdom in the crowd. And a lot of wisdom in a team.
What I’m hearing is a very, very mixed message from the people I’m talking to about returning to work in some industries. What many are saying is that, even if things “open up” again, they’re not sure they want to go back. This is particularly true in high-touch businesses like restaurants and hotels where the employees are forced to interact with the customers on an individual level.
Of course there are also those who can’t wait to go back.
But the surprisingly large number of people who have stated that they don’t want to go back are giving a number of reasons, some of which are within the sphere of control of the business owners.
What I have been hearing quite a bit is that business owners are looking forward to opening but not providing any plans to their staff of how the staff are going to be protected. Will there be stronger enforcement of staff and customers not being allowed in the business if they clearly show signs of being sick?
What kind of steps are the business owners taking to distance their teams from the customers and keep those teams out of harm’s way?
For example, in a restaurant it would be virtually impossible to ask customers to wear masks simply because eating is generally done with mouths, which would be covered if the customers wore masks.
I’ve seen one entrepreneurial restaurant owner putting up shower curtains between stations to isolate guests and get a lot of credit for doing so on social media.
And what do you do with all those touched menus? Perhaps now might be the time to finally get your restaurant on the Internet with your own website and have the menu there, so customers would just look at the fare on their smart phones instead of having to hand-out menus. And have the servers take those menus back.
Might it also make sense to shift to disposable dishes and skullery? I’m no fan of filling landfills with plastic at all, but we also need to examine all our options in these unusual times.
Most importantly, how are you communicating your plans with your team? Or how is the owner where you work communicating with you?
In the past I’ve suggested having a closed Facebook Group for just your team. You could also use things like Slack.
Also, with everybody using Zoom meetings and that sort of tool, perhaps having Zoom meetings with staff so both sides can work on creating the best environment in which to reopen is a good idea as well.
Teams of people have been sitting at home wondering what’s coming and making decisions about their own lives. We’ve all seen that our assumptions about daily life aren’t necessarily accurate any longer and even I have been creating flow SWAT charts about me. While I know what I have been doing, I’m not so sure that’s what I will be doing.
Your team is making those same decisions. Communication is the key to your future.
Article and image editing by Anthony Barthel