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Leading Your Team through COVID-19

By Katie Philipp

Whether you have a team of one or hundreds, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably surfaced concerns around the security and future of your staff. As the leader within your business, you’re tasked with setting the overall tone and direction for your team during this critical time. As forced business closures cascade across the globe, every day brings new circumstances and challenges. Try to step back and prioritise what you can plan for. This is your chance to show your team what authentic leadership looks like.

A great resource that we recommend during this time is the Society for Human Resource Management. The site provides a wealth of information around employee protections, paid and non-paid leave, and up-to-date legislation and relief options, specific to regional settings.  

Whatever the current status of your business, you can follow some of the general best practices below to see your team through this time:    

  • Be upfront with them—sincerity and honesty will go a long way.    
  • If you’re having trouble, ask for help, and you may find your team has fresh ideas that you haven’t thought of.  
  • Listen to your team and let them help navigate communication with your customers—have them write out talking points and keep them engaged in this process.  
  • Take this time to document new procedures and how you’re shifting specific operations.    
  • Remain as conscientious as possible to the fact that your team members are dealing with concerns and anxieties outside of the workspace, as well.    
  • Set up a formalised channel for communication so they know you’re available—something like a Facebook group or Slack channel.  
  • Host virtual mentor hours—training them how to get online content and improve their job skills.
  • Encourage them to use downtime to educate themselves online about the Mindbody system and to go through our staff training and certification programs. You can visit our Learning Center here.

While most businesses can anticipate some period of closure, let’s look at some specific staff considerations for those businesses that remain open, as well as those enduring temporary forced closure. 

If you’re currently open

  • Check the emotional landscape of your team and do this one-on-one. Take some time to hear how each of them is feeling and any specific concerns they have.  
  • Give your team the freedom to allow clients to cancel without penalty—this gives them autonomy and frees up some of your decision-making time.  
  • Respect their decision if they don’t feel safe to come to work.  
  • Honor that your team could feel guilty for continuing to service the elderly or compromised clients within your business community. Respect their wishes if they prefer to not work with these populations.  
  • Remind your team that their safety is of utmost importance.    
  • Consider extending their sick pay or paid time off and potentially allow them to go into the negative.  

If you’re currently closed

  • If there’s a mandate, don’t break the rules.  
  • Don’t let your team work in your space for anything beyond filming. Only allow one team member in the business at a time, honoring any social distancing recommendations that are in place.  
  • Don’t allow team members to see clients.  
  • Provide a daily update for your team.    
  • Hold virtual team classes. This fosters team connections and your instructors or practitioners can get experience teaching online, as this is an entirely different skill set than in person.  
  • Let your team showcase expertise that may not have surfaced within their traditional role at the business.    
  • Find a financial advisor or a CPA that can provide them with virtual advice for possible tax relief, rent moratoriums, and other financial planning resources.  
  • Guide them through filing for unemployment, if applicable.  
  • Show your people how to apply for different services that might benefit them—rent abatement and moratoriums on evictions.  
  • If you have independent contractors, ensure that you put their contracts on pause and process the proper paperwork surrounding these procedures.  
  • Formalise employee layoffs and document everything. You can leverage our staffing templates for specific procedural guidance around this. Check out A Staffing Template for Your Fitness BusinessA Staffing Template for Your SpaA Staffing Template for Your Wellness Business, or A Staffing Template for Your Salon for more.

Above all else, remind your team that you will get back to them immediately, stay connected and compassionate, and honor that this is an unprecedented time for all. It’s a challenging landscape, but your team will understandably be looking to you to guide them during this time.      

Much of this material was derived from a Mindbody webinar examining change with the landscape of the coronavirus, with advisement from one of our Mindbody certified consultants and staffing expert, Katie Santos.    

This information contained herein does not constitute financial, legal, or other professional advice and is meant to be used solely for informational purposes. It does not take into account your specific circumstances and should be not acted on without full understanding of your current situation, future goals and/or objectives by a qualified professional. MINDBODY assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein. 

About the author:

Katie Philipp Headshot

Katie Philipp

Senior Business Education Specialist

Katie is a North Carolina native who fell in love with the California coastline and decided to make it her home in 2011. She has been long involved in the world of holistic health as both a yoga instructor, massage therapist, and classical Pilates enthusiast. She joined the Mindbody team in 2012. When Katie is not working, she has a passion for studying holistic nutrition, hiking, cooking, playing cribbage, and spending time with her family and friends.

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