Date: April 21, 2020 at 10:00AM
Meet the finance and HR experts who will serve the Vancouver Island Coastal Tourism Resiliency Program. They will answer your questions and Tourism Vancouver Island will provide a program update, including FAQs and next steps.
Thank you to our program experts Sara Bauer and Leif Bogwald for their expertise on this webinar. Due to some technical hiccups, we aren’t able to provide the recording. However, we’ve compiled a recap of the webinar questions and answers for you.
Q1: My small business was forced to layoff valuable employees that are like family to us. What can I do to encourage these valued employees to return to their positions when my business reopens?
This has been very hard for everyone. Many companies have amazing employees, and this is not a situation that anyone wants to be in. How your team recovers from this and how your employees will feel coming back to work with you will depend greatly on how they felt they were treated during the layoff process, and throughout the layoff period.
Have a weekly check in. Not scheduled as they are not an employee right now, but reach out once a week or so and ask how they are doing. How is their family? Do they need anything. No shop talk, just check on them. Show a genuine interest.
While funds are tight for every company, they are most likely tighter for them, and you may be able to help them out.
- Do they need to keep their company cell phone to use while off?
- Do they need their laptop so they can help their kids with their home work.
- Do they need some groceries you may be able to help out with?
Ensure they still have access to their extended health benefits, you do not want your employees to have an added stress if they cannot afford medication or care. And if you have an employee assistance program in place, remind them of this! As this time people are greatly impacted by mental health and financial health questions. Most EAP programs can lend support in both areas.
Keep them informed of the status of the business, and your intentions and projected timelines to re-open. And if there is an opportunity to engage them and ask for ideas or input on how to rejuvenate the business upon re-opening that is great. They will feel involved in the company and valued.
Once you re-open, make your appreciation known. Tell them how valued they are, and how grateful you are to have them back on your team.
If there is anything you can do once everything is back up and running to make your employees whole again, try and help. A small bonus, take care of their cell phone bill, get creative. Anything the company can do will go a long way.
You can also consider providing some additional paid vacation time. Many people used their accrued vacation, or in some cases the entire annual allotment of vacation during this time to ensure they received some additional pay, this of course means that they will not have vacation time for the remainder of the year. Depending on the nature of your business if you can close over the Christmas holidays and gift that time to your employees, do so. If you can add an extra day to a long weekend, great, or allow your employees to take an extra week of paid vacation this year.
While many people have been “off” for weeks and home with their families, and most are trying to do some fun activities, and engage with their loved ones, it is certainly not a vacation. It is a time of stress and uncertainty. How you treat your team during this time will have a hand in defining who you are as a team and as a company.
Q2: My business has observed a 80% decline in revenue since the second week of March. How do I go about adjusting my financial forecasts given all the uncertainty?
I would recommend doing two cash flow forecasts: one pessimistic and one optimistic. They should not (and cannot) be a one-time thing because things are changing so frequently. These forecasts need to be living, breathing documents. You should be revising them monthly or even weekly based on government announcements and other information that comes out daily.
Q3: Are there any government programs available to support those individuals who work as contractors for tourism businesses rather than as employees?
Yes, there are programs available through the government for self-employed individuals and independent contractors.
There are programs through EI and the new CERB. There are a number of factors they look at to determine if someone is eligible so you should refer any contract employees to the Canada.ca website or they can call service Canada directly.
These are programs that are changing daily so this is not an area that as HR I am an expert in. The programs are newly created, and ever changing. Register for the Vancouver Island Coastal Tourism Resiliency Program or consult official government sites to better understand what programs you may be eligible for.
Q4: How should my small business go about consolidating existing debt?
1) Get rid of the highest interest debt wherever possible. Credit card debt is not sustainable.
2) Shop around. You may be able to get better terms if all your loans are in one place.
3) Use government programs like CEBA and BCAP. The terms and rates are about as good as you’ll get if you need it.
Q5: How can I create a positive and collaborative team environment while working with my employees remotely?
Working from home can be a great set-up and can go very well, if done right. Here are some tips and tricks for creating a positive experience for your remote team.
First and foremost…Do your employees have the ability to work from home? Do they have wifi, an office set-up or an area where they can be productive?
Do they have all the tools they need to work from home successfully? Laptop, cell phone, printer/scanner, etc. If they do not, help to get them what they need. Deliver from staples, or have it couriered to their home.
Schedule regular check-ins both as individuals and as a team. Weekly is a good place to start. Review work load, any issues, how you can support. Remember to check in on them personally. How are they coping? How are they managing working from home? For some it is easy and almost a welcomed transition, others struggle when working from home.
DO NOT MICRO MANAGE. Trust your team to do their job, and know their individual needs. Some may need more support and hand holding than others, whereas some will be effective and off to the races.
Be flexible on their work hours. If someone is providing customer support within a specific window of time, ensure they understand that and can work those hours. This is a unique time where we have kids at home, spouses, parents, etc. this is not a typical work from home set-up. If their job is one that can be conducted at any time, be flexible. Understand that many people working from home are now also day care workers and teachers in addition to working full-time.
Encourage your team to connect to each other and lean on each other for support. Let them know you are available to them whenever needed, and be supportive and understanding when they reach out.
Praise your team often. Thank them for great work. Thank them for their continued dedication, and show genuine appreciation.
Try to engage with your team and keep it fun. I have seen teams having a virtual happy hour, or sharing fun videos and memes. These may not be things we would generally encourage in a typical office setting, but in these times, encourage a little fun. Still respectful and appropriate, but a laugh can go a long way. Know your team. Be supportive. Be understanding. Be kind. Be fun.
Q6: If I have shortened my staff’s hours significantly, like from 40 hrs to 8 hours a week, do I risk having a constructive dismissal case?
Yes. That is a potential risk, however there are a number of factors to consider in a matter like this. What is the language in the Employment Agreement? Are they on a voluntary layoff? What is the documentation that has been provided to them regarding reduced hours of work. For this type of question there is not a generic answer and you should reach out through the program to schedule time with the HR consultant.