As if the hard-felt pressure to remain profitable, if not simply operable, wasn’t enough, most small businesses are continually contemplating how, at the most basic level, they can feasibly retain employees. And this involves finding ways to invest in their safety, security and satisfaction during these uncertain times. Nurturing feelings of value and positivity goes hand-in-hand with greater productivity. Here, five small business owners share some best practices for maintaining a spirit of positivity even under the most trying of circumstances.

 team of employees at A Man’s Cave-A Spa for Men, LLC
Judith Dumorney-McDaniel, owner of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based A Man's Cave Spa for Men, and her team. — A Man’s Cave-A Spa for Men, LLC

Judith Dumorney-McDaniel, owner, A Man’s Cave-A Spa for Men, LLC

A Man’s Cave-A Spa for Men is a pop-up spa dedicated to helping men 30 to 60 years old prioritize their quality of life so that their health is not compromised. We offer massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and healthy food demos, along with a wellness chat with a homeopathic doctor.

During COVID-19, I have been in contact with my staff via monthly Zoom meetings to stay current and prepare for our return. I also check on them weekly via text, phone and email to send updates and inspirational messages and words of affirmation.

We’ve enjoyed virtual “mocktails” and cocktails to show and tell new items and products that were purchased for our clients, as well as share stories, ideas and photos of what we’ve done over the summer with family and friends.

Together, we look forward to returning to help men spread our motto: “Your Body is Your Temple!” Follow A Man's Cave Spa for Men on Facebook: @MansCaveSpaforMenLLC.

 team photo at On Location Tours
Georgette Blau, founder of New York City-based On Location Tours, and her team. — On Location Tours

Georgette Blau, founder, On Location Tours

As a TV and movie tour company, we’ve always had fun, but COVID has not helped in the day-to-day environment.

It’s also been challenging suddenly working remotely, where we were always in constant communication and working in an upbeat office. In order to keep our employees happy during this time — which has especially been challenging for tourism — I have done a number of things, including dropping off birthday gifts in person for some employees and setting up Zoom calls for the tour guides so we can all see each other. We’ve always attracted employees who are passionate about TV and the movies to work for us, so we have continued that conversation on Zoom and on the phone!

I have also been giving salaried employees gift cards, since they couldn’t reach some of their goals as a result of a lack of sales.

I started The Comedy Brief during this time, an online comedy platform where the tour guides can submit and get paid for their submission and also keep their creativity flowing. I have recently launched a virtual Friends tour and hope to create additional virtual tours in the future. Follow On Location tours on Instagram: @onlocationtours.

 outdoor class at Shanti Yoga Studio
An outdoor yoga class at McCall, Idaho-based Shanti Yoga Studio. — Shanti Yoga Studio

Brooke Kinzer, instructor, Shanti Yoga Studio

My priority lies in preserving staff, client, and community well-being. Our protocols are extensive, and policy changes reflect our emphasis on safety.

While I am not applying any pressure to staff to return to work until they are ready to do so, those who have been ready to return appreciate my dedicated efforts to ensure a safe and comfortable work environment.

We’ve collaborated with various outdoor venues to bring yoga classes outside for the busy summer season, and we are also offering virtual classes so that clients and staff can practice in the comforts of their own homes.

The legwork of changing policies, rethinking business models, and being innovative during a precarious time is both noticed and appreciated by my staff, but the most genuine gratitude I receive comes from my personal connection with each of them.

They know that I am available to listen, sympathize and weigh in if requested, but the relationship is reciprocal — they also know how much I value their considerations and contributions. This is a family run small business, and we treat all of our team members as a part of a whole. Follow Shanti Yoga Studio on Facebook: @shantiyoga.idaho.

 eddie lott of Recycle Revolution
Eddie Lott, founder of Dallas, Texas-based Recycle Revolution. — Recycle Revolution

Eddie Lott, founder, Recycle Revolution

One of the silver linings of the past six months has been how the pandemic has brought our staff together and made us each more aware of our individual and collective well-being. As a service provider with lots of clients in the service and hospitality industries, it’s been a very trying time, but we’re finding that we can get through it together and have fun while doing it.

After brainstorming with each of our staff members individually, our GM, Maria, was able to reduce the teams’ hours only fractionally in order to prevent any one individual from losing their job — which initially seemed inevitable due to revenue loss — and I know the staff recognized and truly appreciated that effort. She cross-trained everyone and emphasized team work and communication, bringing the staff much closer together during the process.

As a small, family-run business, we’ve always stressed the importance of work-life balance, but Maria has placed an even greater emphasis on that value during this period, with employees able to take extended leaves to help their kids with online school, care for loved ones and simply avoid unwanted exposure at the workplace.

As a small business, the intangibles—empathy, strong communication, fun, reliability, and flexibility—have always been paramount to keeping our team happy and productive. Follow Recycle Revolution on Instagram: @recyclerevolution.

 team at Dartcor
Warren Leeds, CEO of Whippany, New Jersey-based Dartcor, and his team. — Dartcor

Warren Leeds, CEO, Dartcor

As a hospitality business, a happy team creates happy customers. We’re in the business of bringing people together around food, and that approach is applied to our team, also — not just our guests.

We’ve always used our daily team meetings and “family meals” to set the stage for meal service, team building exercises and development.

Recently, we’ve added health check-ins and diversity training. Through these food gatherings, we create a safe environment and open communication channels for our employees to connect and support one another. Follow Dartcor on Instagram: @dartcorfoodservices.

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