Staying on top of COVID-19: 4 quick reminders for SMBs

Staying on top of COVID-19: 4 quick reminders for SMBs

For leaders of SMBs, the coronavirus presents a major challenge: using the limited resources you have to support your company during a completely unprecedented crisis. Recently, to help make sense of it all, we chatted with Aja Baxter, whose role at Breather encompasses two major functions. He is not only our general counsel but he also oversees our People team. Amid the current crisis, Aja’s busy distilling legislation (across three countries!) to make it easy for us all to understand — and working closely with his team to keep morale up across the company. As SMBs well know, processing complex legislation and sharing it widely can be a stressful task. Below, Aja shared four helpful reminders for SMB leaders on how to stay up-to-date and keep your company informed.

1. Check-in with your team daily. 

Communicating with your team is essential during this time — about not only key initiatives but also their well-being. It goes without saying, but it’s always a helpful reminder to be kind and lead with empathy.

Aja recommends meeting at least once a day with your team, just to check in.

“We do a stand-up meeting most mornings just to check in and see how everyone is feeling and what everyone is working on,” he explained. “I want to make sure my team has all the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively, so it’s important to check in regularly and give them the opportunity to ask for help.”

2. Prioritize what to communicate to the whole company.  

With the 24-hour news cycle, there’s no shortage of information worth communicating to your people. Aja recommends thinking critically before you hit send and filtering updates down to the most pertinent pieces of information.

“We have employees in three countries, various US states, and Canadian provinces, so I try to share the information that helps the broadest group possible,” Aja said. “We’re also focusing on official statements issued by local governments and public health officials, rather than rumours or news items that are less helpful.”

As Aja sees it, employees don’t turn to their employers for general news updates. “People don’t need news from us — there’s already plenty of that. I try to share helpful links and formal announcements that provide resources to people that impact their work.”

So when a relevant policy is published, it’s best to focus on processing updates that help both your people and your business. Then, share your takeaways and next steps with the company. Aja explains that it’s about curating information and resources to help employees and compiling them somewhere accessible — like a shareable folder.

3. No one’s an island — reach out to your network for support and guidance. 

Because the situation is so complex and fast-evolving, it means that everyone is in the same position and willing to help each other out, even across industries.

“It’s amazing to see how supportive people have been,“ Aja said. “Talking to peers has been incredibly helpful. You can hear different opinions and experiences, how people are going through their process, and what kind of feedback they’ve received.”

You can also lean on your support system of external mentors and advisors for help and guidance along the way.

“If you have outsourced payroll, benefits, lawyers, accountants or insurance providers, reach out to them for guidance on local laws and support,” Aja said. “And if you have investors in other countries, they can help you understand the status of different laws and identify support opportunities.”

4. Things are still unfolding — and that’s OK.

As this complex situation continues to unfold in real-time, everyone is facing uncertainty —  SMBs and big businesses alike.

“This situation is changing by the hour, and the advice you’ll get from experts is constantly shifting,” Aja said. “In some cases the laws are still being written, and even the biggest companies are struggling with navigating all of the complexities.”

For now, the best thing you can do is be empathetic toward yourself and others, lean on your network for support and guidance, look out for your people, and make informed decisions.

“Ultimately, only you understand the unique challenges that your company is facing,” Aja said. “So you have to make the best decisions you can with the information you have available, then move forward.”

Bookmark these resources.

To stay on top of COVID-19 updates, here are some of the official government resources Aja has turned to that SMBs should have bookmarked.

Global: The World Health Organization (WHO) for global updates, helpful if your business operates in multiple countries like Breather.

US: If you operate in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the source for updates specific to health and safety in the US. The US Government has also provided a guide to the federal government’s response to the coronavirus and resources that have been made available.

UK: If you operate in the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is the country’s public health system and is a key source of updates. More information of the government’s response to COVID-19 in the UK can be found here.

Canada: If you operate in Canada, the Public Health Agency (PHA), the branch of government dedicated to public health, is providing updates and guidance. The Canadian government as well as some provinces, like Quebec and Ontario, are also providing their residents with updated information and resources.

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