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4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Keep Their Businesses Positive During Challenging Times

In times of crisis, business owners and executives should double down on their team's wellbeing

August 11, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Staying positive in the midst of a global crisis is easier said than done, but taking carefully measured steps to improve employee happiness and satisfaction might be one of the best ways to tackle the effects of the looming economic uncertainty — and bounce back stronger when the time comes.  

Despite the circumstances, entrepreneurs and business executives now have an excellent opportunity to promote positivity within their workplace by reinvigorating the workforce, strengthening team unity and addressing issues that might have gone unnoticed for some time.  

1. Embrace change

Although a large chunk of entrepreneurs might be tempted to hunker down and simply wait out the storm as it were, challenging times are often the best chance to establish a competitive advantage and think outside the box. After all, what you do now will ultimately affect how successful you and your business are when things return to normalcy. 

During these challenging times, the habits of customers and clients have changed considerably. Their general wants and needs, as well as the products and services they purchase, can be wildly different from even just weeks ago, meaning firms need to remain light-footed to adapt to rapidly changing demands and requirements. 

Related: Why Does It Take A Crisis For Companies to Change?

“The current challenging times are presenting a real stress-test for many enterprises. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for many organizations to revisit their existing business processes,” Antonio Perini, CEO of the enterprise delivery management platform Milkman, told me in an interview.

“Organizations investing in hyper-automation, real-time visibility and robustness will emerge more powerful when the crisis is behind us. Organizations that understand how technology creates a better working environment and value transparency and collaboration are not only keeping their teams positive but use these times to make them stronger.”

By staying agile and keeping up the rapidly changing economic circumstances, firms can act to minimize disruption to the business, identify and capitalize on profitable new opportunities and keep morale up among employees. After all, a team that is constantly challenged will also be constantly improving. 

2. Double-down on training and education

One commonly overlooked way to improve both employee and employer satisfaction is with a strong training and education initiative. By properly training your employees and nurturing their talents, you'll be better positioned to keep up with industry challenges, adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and maintain your edge over the competition. 

As a welcome side effect, you'll also boost morale and job satisfaction and ensure your employees feel properly equipped to deal with the changing tasks at hand. By doubling down on training and education, whether that be by hiring in a coach or working with one of the numerous employee training and development firms, employers can keep positivity high and be ready to seize the opportunities that lie ahead. 

Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Join Europe's Booming Coaching Industry

The benefits of a solid training program go well beyond simply preparing employees for the task at hand. A carefully crafted training program can unlock latent talents, address important skill gaps and create a more resilient team that is more than capable of adapting to changing circumstances.

3. Focus on team-building and wellbeing

Consider this an excellent opportunity to focus on both your own mental wellbeing and that of your employees and colleagues. Investments in a strong management team and ensuring the mental wellbeing of employees can pay dividends in efficiency — improving productivity by as much as 12 percent. This will also help to both improve employee satisfaction and reduce staff turnover — two significant efficiency drivers.

One of the best ways to boost wellbeing among employees is to improve the flexibility of their working hours. Because many workers are now working from home, and some of them now have other responsibilities to deal with as a consequence of the crisis, discussing and implementing a more pragmatic working schedule can help minimize work-related stress and ensure a fair and manageable work/life balance. 

Related: Show Employees You Care About Their Well-Being. Here are 5 Ways.

“Be adaptable and accepting. Building a team means that you’re taking on their team, meaning family and significant others. During these times it’s crucial to acknowledge support systems outside of your work bubble and care for your ‘extended family’. Use this as a bigger opportunity to have some fun and connect with your team in a way you may not have before,” recommends Lisa Jolly, founder of Honeybunch Naturals, a natural skincare and wellness product line.

There is also a range of virtual team-building exercises to choose from including Twaiku, where teams work together to write a haiku poem using Twitter, as well as simple video conferencing discussions that can help build trust, improve communication and increase cohesion among remotely working teams. These can be delivered over popular communication and collaboration tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Slack and so on. 

4. Get ready for a surge in interest

Let’s face it, all but a few industries have suffered a significant setback as a result of the ongoing crisis. Revenue and growth expectations have shrunk, supply chains have been disrupted and many firms are struggling to stay afloat. 

This is evidenced by the dramatic economic shrinkage most countries have seen this year. The United States just posted the worst quarterly change in GDP on record, the United Kingdom's GDP shrank by 2.2 percent between Q1 and Q2 this year, while India’s economy is poised to lose $4.5 billion for each day it spends in lockdown. 

But with the lockdown measures in some countries being gradually eased, the economy is now beginning to show signs of recovery and will likely compensate for some of the losses incurred earlier in the year. This is evidenced by the almost complete reversal of the Chinese economy between Q1 and Q2 — indicating the adverse economic effects of the coronavirus might be shorter than initial projections.

With China approximately three months ahead of most other countries in terms of economic recovery, most economies can reasonably expect to begin seeing an uptick in the coming weeks and months. This, in combination with the fact that most governments are directly stimulating the economy with cash injections, tax cuts and other incentives, gives most entrepreneurs and general workers something to look forward to in the months ahead. 

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