Top 5 Things Small Business Owners Can Do to Keep Employees Calm During Coronavirus

March 12, 2020 Written by Oralie Chapman

It’s natural for people to feel scared as news about the rapid spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and increasing death toll is being reported by the hour. While we may know that it’s wise to stay calm, our instincts often take over. Widespread panic isn’t good for anyone, but it’s especially disruptive for businesses. Managers and small business owners may be wondering what they can do to keep their employees calm and how they can keep their operations going during this epidemic. The bad news is that we’re in the middle of this situation and we don’t know exactly how or when it will end and how much damage will be done in the process. The good news for small businesses is that they have less employees in the office compared to large businesses which means less risk of having an employee with the virus and that they can take steps to manage the situation.

Top 5 things small business owners can do to keep employees calm during the Coronavirus


According to business leader Rhonda Abrams, these are the top five things that small business owners can do to reduce fear in the workplace during the Corona outbreak (from her article in USA TODAY):


1. Make changes that work with your needs


Every small business has its way of functioning and its own unique needs to keep the business operating. Find ways to make changes that will reduce the risk of spreading the virus in your workplace that work for your business:

  • Reduce in-person staffing for any employees who can work from home.
  • Use teleconferences or video conferences to communicate with clients and your team.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces every day.
  • Spread desks further apart to keep germs from spreading.


2. Provide paid sick leave


Thankfully, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 71 percent of employers offer paid sick days. The problem is that not all workers qualify and many who do feel pressured not to use the paid leave that they have. This is the time for businesses to make it clear to their employees who are experiencing any symptoms that they should stay home and use the sick pay that your business is providing.


3. Travel if necessary but take extra care


If traveling for your business is necessary right now and you don’t have any reason to believe that you’ve been exposed to the Coronavirus and are not showing any signs of illness, you may wish to maintain your travel plans. If you do, take these extra steps:

  • Bring antiseptic wipes and wipe down your seat and the tray table before sitting down. Do the same in your rental car.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • If you need to sneeze, do so into your elbow. (Hopefully you aren’t traveling with a cough).


4. Give employees the option to opt out of work travel and big meetings


If employees are feeling nervous about traveling or attending large meetings right now then the best thing to do is respect their concern and not force them to go. This is especially true for employees over the age of 60 or those who have compromised immune systems. Apart from the liability risk if an employee contracted the virus after being forced to attend a meeting they asked not to attend, it’s a recipe for low workplace morale.


5. Look into business interruption insurance


Ask your insurance broker if you qualify for business interruption insurance that would cover unexpected major events. While it’s likely that you won’t be able to get coverage for disruptions caused by the Coronavirus, it could help to cover your business next time a major event affects your bottom line.


Why partnering with a PEO can help reduce issues with Coronavirus in the workplace


A PEO provides small businesses with many advantages that they might not otherwise be able to afford. These advantages have become even more important during this international health crisis.


When small business owners partner with Makai HR they:

  • Gain peace of mind that they are complying with all of Hawaii’s labor laws, which is especially important when decisions are being made about how to handle a health crisis.
  • Can provide comprehensive health care plans that will give your employees peace of mind about going to the doctor for treatment and testing.


We are also here to support your business when you decide to work remotely:

  • Our cloud based platform means that your employees can manage their HR needs through a computer, tablet or phone, making it easier for them to work from home.
  • Our cloud based HRIS platform means that your HR team can manage HR remotely if they are sick or everyone is working remotely.


Pro tip: this is a good time to encourage all employees to update to Direct Deposit to reduce in person bank transactions and continue timely payroll payments. Do not delay. Contact us today to get started!