COVID-19 Business Update – Omicron (Part 2)

By Dhez Woodworth
In Uncategorized
Feb 3rd, 2022
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As part of our ongoing efforts to support our local businesses, this month we’ll focus our Business Update on business health. While there is good news on the pandemic front, this post’s information and resources will help businesses remain nimble and address issues like customer confidence, employee retention and remote work, having a strong online presence and keeping an eye on the future.

If you missed it, last month we talked about protecting customers and staff from the Omicron Variant of the Coronavirus (Part 1) with the latest on information and resources on vaccination, masks, and testing.

Graph showing daily cases rapidly falling from nearly 6,000 to under 2,000
Daily Cases Falling Fast

First, the good news! Omicron is receding almost as quickly as it swept into our community. In addition, the disease appears to produce more mild symptoms, particularly in vaccinated individuals.

On the downside, the disease remains a serious threat and the number of deaths from COVID-19 are starting to rise, lagging behind the huge wave of illness. In addition, many businesses are continuing to deal with lower employee and consumer confidence as well as complications that have arisen as a result of the pandemic.

FREE BUSINESS RESOURCES

Before we get started with specific suggestions, it is useful for businesses to know that there are free assistance resources that can address their needs. This could be through general-topic assistance using group workshops or individual needs through one-on-one counseling. And, increasingly these groups offer assistance in more languages to better support our diverse communities. Some leading regional organizations include:

While businesses largely have to adjust to the economic realities, there is still a good deal that they can do to better weather the storm.

RETAIN YOUR CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES

For instance, businesses can create a greater sense of confidence among their employees and customers. As we discussed in part 1, masking is an effective way to limit infections, but it is also a highly visible way for a business to show that they are taking the disease seriously. Businesses with an older or other health-concious customers and workers may find that obviously embracing safety provisions not only decreases absenteeism due to illness but increases return customer visits and contributes to worker retention.

Losing and replacing employees is an expensive problem for many businesses. Especially in the throes of what some are calling the Great Resignation, many businesses are reevaluating employee satisfaction and retention. Articles like Understanding the Crisis of Disengagement from the SBDC or 13 Effective Employee Retention Strategies are just a couple on this hot topic. Businesses can also access SBDC webinars like HR: Employee Hiring, Firing & Retention.

Many businesses have also adopted or returned to remote work policies. While not for every business, remote work can reduce risks for employees and customers and may even increase productivity. Businesses may want to have a look at a SCORE video on tools for remote work or 10 successful remote principles, or look at articles like Employee Hybrid and Remote Work Policy Tempate.

PIVOTING AND PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

Continuing to learn and adapt is among the key characteristics identified in Building the Resilient Organization along with being prepared, collaborative, trustworthy, and responsible. They conclude that while few businesses were as prepared for the pandemic as they would have liked that those businesses that continue to think ahead will be better positioned to move from responding to recovering.

SCORE Logo

This time of year is an excellent opportunity to consider the future. The web is full of prognostications like SCORE’s Hottest Businesses, Markets & Trends that may offer ways forward for businesses. One trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic is the adoption of the internet by more businesses and consumers.

Businesses which have not already prioritized developing a robust online presence to connect with people looking for goods and services can still plan on the transition. Some resources that will help include videos like SCORE’s Integrating Brick & Mortar and eCommerce webinar and many California private-sector partners have a variety of introductory offers.

Businesses can also remain nimble and forward looking by accessing Lynda.com videos on websites and other topics using a San Leandro Public Library Card.

As we look forward toward 2022, we know that the only certainty is change. After two years of the pandemic, businesses armed with the right resources and entrepreneurial grit are due for a little change for the better.

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