Reopening Post-Pandemic Considerations

June 17, 2021

Governor Wolf announced that all businesses, events, and venues could return to 100% capacity. Pennsylvania residents have been anxiously awaiting this reopening of our state. Small businesses have been eager to see the state reopen so that their companies can return to a state of normalcy. However, small businesses must take a few considerations to prepare for the new norm.

While the government supports a return for workers, customers and employees may still need some support adjusting to the new normal, and some customers may still not be ready to shop on-site in stores for non-necessities. Employees may still want to wear masks. Some industries, such as travel, could be busier than ever, as so many individuals have had cabin fever and are looking forward to traveling. On the other hand, many customers may have enjoyed curbside pickup or the convenience of someone doing their grocery shopping for them.

Large companies have resources to help prepare for the reopening. Small businesses may be scrambling without the same resources. As small businesses have made it through an unprecedented time, they will continue to adapt to a new climate that may be known as “the new norm.” A norm that may require some thought and consideration to support customers and employees as they get back to work.

In the same manner that employees had to adapt to different working arrangements 15 months ago, they will have to adjust to commutes, child care, and social interactions. Therefore, employers need to be prepared to support their employees through this adjustment period!

Apple announced earlier this month that they would be calling their employees back into the office. Slated for  September 2021, the big tech’s employees will be operating under a hybrid model. This hybrid model includes set days in and out of the office for all employees. Employees pushed back on this communication. Apple employees cited that they wanted to have a voice in this decision. They wanted to provide feedback on what days they would work from the office, etc., if at all.

In talking with employees, employers have learned that a benefit to the pandemic has been that employees enjoyed the extra time at home with their families. In addition, they made good use of the time they eliminated from regular commutes.

Employees have experienced so much change. Some employers may decide to survey their employees to understand their needs as they implement a successful transition plan.

One of the biggest challenges with reopening our state and its commerce continues to be attracting and retaining talent.

Some industries have traditionally struggled with labor issues more than others. Both hospitality and manufacturing employers are struggling to attract and retain workers. Hospitality has always struggled with getting and keeping help. Help wanted signs to exist in almost every eatery in SouthCentral Pennsylvania.

Business owners have some decisions to make with regards to how to operate with limited staffing. These decisions may include adjusting their operating hours as they are unable to fill shifts with workers. In addition, some businesses are enticing prospective employees by offering higher wages, sign-on bonuses, and retention bonuses.

Small businesses in Pennsylvania should consider the following three items as we return to normalcy:

1. Reestablish a customer profile.

  • Is your ideal customer the same customer that you had before the pandemic?
  • Did your customers’ buying behaviors change?
  • Your customer may have enjoyed the services you offered during the pandemic, such as delivery or curbside assistance. How will they react if you no longer offer this service?
  • Will your hours need to change because of customer needs or operational concerns?
  • Many businesses lost customers. They may need to brainstorm and strategize to win those customers back!

2.  Recruit and retain talent.

  • Employees have always responded well to employers that offer flexible working arrangements. Flexible working arrangements are more important now more than ever! Work from home may need to be an option, even if in an emergency only. Flexibility does not always mean work from home because that does not work for many types of businesses. Still, employers may need to offer ways to be flexible in other ways to be a competitive workplace in 2021.
  • Businesses may need to hire inexperienced candidates that require training. Additionally, they may need to train existing employees in other areas. Statistics show that employees trained on new skills are more engaged workers and employers benefit from the additional skillset. Training will be an essential component of getting Pennsylvania back to work!
  • Employers will want to utilize their website, job posting websites, and social media pages to attract new employees.
  • The talent pool is scarce right now. Therefore, employers will need to carefully evaluate their business needs and write job descriptions carefully before advertising open positions.

3.  To continue to increase confidence in the safety of the business, both employees and customers will need to feel safe and secure.

  • Employers can increase their employee’s and customers’ confidence in their ability to keep them safe by utilizing methods, such as allowing the plexiglass to remain up as masks begin to come off and traffic picks up in high-traffic areas.
  • In the past, employees would come to work sick not to miss wages or deadlines. Some employees feared write-ups or terminations if there had been attendance issues in their history. Attendance policies may need to be reviewed. In addition, employees will be concerned if their co-workers are coming to work ill.
  • Video conferencing, such as Zoom, is here to stay. We’ve learned that we can connect with those in other locations and be relatively efficient. Video conferencing capabilities may reduce times traveling to visit customers or vendors. Zoom may reduce in-person meetings and reduce the spread of viruses. It also can allow employees to reduce travel times which can increase productivity.
  • Employees that are still remote may need to be “weened” back into a physical workspace as their confidence grows. Employers may need to call employees back in phases and communicate expectations.

The road to recovery is finally here!

Small business owners have accomplished more than they could ever imagine. We will continue to grow and strive to enter a new phase of doing business in the second half of 2021.

PaySmart is a payroll provider located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, supporting small businesses in the Central PA region. We are dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more information about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions, please contact us at 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you!