Three C’s for business owners this COVID-19 holiday season


CLEVELAND -Dec. 12, 23020
Typically, during the holidays, business owners do special things for their employees – parties, bonuses, what have you. COVID-19 has dramatically changed the status quo. As we continue to deal with the ramifications of COVID, especially during the holiday surge, there are three essential things business owners must do. I’ve seen this time and again.

Throughout Northeast Ohio, the businesses managing best build their COVID-19 response around these three basic tenets: being calm; being consistent; and communicating. Call it the “three C’s of navigating COVID,” if you will.

CALM – Keeping calm is always a good idea, but being very intentional about keeping your employees calm is essential. You need your team to work optimally. If they feel safe and supported, they’ll do that. In the news and on social media, we frequently see stories of employers doing the “wrong” things related to COVID-19. Often this is the result of managers not being trained properly to handle situations that are brand-new to the work environment. So, an important part of maintaining “calm” in the workplace is preparing and training your managers to deal with these situations.

CONSISTENT – Being a leader often means having to hold the line and answer the hard questions. And COVID-19 has certainly posed some difficult questions. Be careful not to let your frustration show to your employees. And, as you deal with COVID-19 regulations, you have to put your personal opinions away and do what needs to be done. Employees want consistency and fairness. And when I say “be consistent,”’ I mean be extraordinarily consistent. Companies simply have to be consistent – now more than ever before. Oftentimes, what an owner thinks about the handling of the pandemic and what an employee thinks may be at odds. If you’re weak at setting expectations and inconsistent, it breeds resentment. If you’re consistent, however, you’ll have better buy-in. Employees want consistency and fairness.

COMMUNICATE – Clear communication is how you set expectations. With COVID-19 regulations and guidance changing almost daily, communication must be ongoing. Focus on making sure employees feel safe and build their trust. They need to know what is expected of them. For example, if they have a child who is on remote learning, does the employee have the flexibility to work from home? What is the process to follow if they’ve been exposed to COVID? They need to know, especially as these are not just human resources issues, but they have become safety issues as well. As a business owner, you have the responsibility to not only set expectations for these scenarios but also to immediately address them.

Be open to individual needs – within set expectations – and make sure employees understand what’s needed of them. Being calm, being consistent, and communicating (along with being respectful and kind) will help you to get through this very rough period. Yes, it’s scary, but a calm approach, extraordinary consistency, and stellar communication can eliminate that fear.

In this very different holiday season, give your employees consistency and fairness. Make them feel safe. And your business will be all the stronger for it in the new year when we hopefully begin to put COVID-19 behind us.


Mark D’Agostino is president and founder of ConnectedHR, which helps companies build organizational alignment through human resources. He founded ConnectedHR in 2014 based on a search for scalable human resources support that small businesses need to grow.

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