This is a challenging time for all of us as our nation continues to grapple with the current events. I remain amazed at the collective selfless response of those serving on the front lines — from healthcare workers and first responders, to convenience store team members working around the clock to serve customers and keep stores well-stocked.
Everyone has a part to play in successfully contributing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the convenience store industry is once again showing its mettle as we battle this crisis. Every day, convenience store operators are stepping up to support the community, and the hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. But there is still more work to be done, especially when it comes to supporting those team members on the front line.
As the pandemic churns on, your employees may be getting somewhat settled into their strange new routines. But don’t be fooled: Even as they get acclimated to the chaos, or working in masks, their anxiety hasn’t gone away. If anything, it’s just gone underground. Leadership expert Deb Boelkes said its crises like this that cultivate great leaders.
“Your team needs all the support you can muster right now,” said Boelkes, author of “How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture.” “Everyone is doing their best to adapt to the situation and keep business moving, but we still have a long way to go before things return to normal. If you lead with all the generosity and sincerity, you will empower everyone to show up each day ready to be their best.”
She offered several tips to support employees and alleviate stress. These include:
Be especially considerate and forgiving of those with family issues. Some people may find it difficult to work from home even under normal circumstances. But now, with most schools and daycare centers being closed, working from home can be especially challenging for those who must now also perform duties they usually pay others to perform. Be mindful that some workers may struggle with weaving their business responsibilities around additional responsibilities of homeschooling and childcare.
Allow for more flexible scheduling. For example, allow team members to take comp time at their preferred times. Rather than mandate work schedules, allow team members to work out their own work schedules with each other, if possible. “Likewise, if possible, give team members the option to work non-traditional shifts, perhaps three or four days per week, or a different number of days or hours per shift to best coordinate with their home responsibilities,” Boelkes said.
Do what it takes to make team members feel appreciated. People will do anything for leaders who praise their efforts and are appreciative, especially in times of struggle. Be especially forthcoming with good news and praises for jobs well done.
“Job satisfaction surveys prove again and again that simply appreciating someone’s work can be more important than any other factor in employee engagement,” Boelkes said. “The recipients of your appreciation will most likely be inspired to put forth an even greater effort to ensure they will be thanked again. That’s why the military gives ribbons and awards to soldiers. It keeps their hearts and minds in the battle, especially when the going gets tough.”
Right now, none of us knows how long this crisis will last. These are the times that define us all, and I want you to know how honored I am to watch you execute at such a high level under enormous pressure as you adjust to these extraordinary circumstances. I remain proud of our industry and our people on the front lines as we continue to look out for one another along this incomprehensible journey. Please continue to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
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