The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged everyone worldwide. Owners of small businesses have faced threats to their survival no one anticipated or planned for. As our businesses begin to re-open and go back to work what best practices should business owners and managers deploy?
If you have access to HR personnel or services then rely on that expertise. Their expertise is critical in developing your re-opening policies for both employees and customers. Depending on which county your business is in rules which govern your re-opening will vary. Businesses with locations in different counties will be subject to different rules from one county to the next.
Make sure the guidelines you develop for your business are clear and in writing. Make sure your guidelines fully align and comply with the jurisdictions in which your business operates. Having your guidelines comply with your applicable jurisdiction is critical to maintaining compliance with legal rules and regulations and in promoting confidence of your employees and customers.
For companies lacking access to HR expertise, it may be available to you through the company that administers your payroll, your liability insurance policy, your employee benefits plan or your unemployment insurance program. Should you have none of those, than your local chamber of commerce may also be of assistance. Making use of available resources is always a good business practice.
One source to avoid is social media. Should you face a lawsuit or enforcement action concerning your re-opening or safety practices, you will have no success in claiming that your “plan” was something you read about on social media.
Speaking of social media some businesses are announcing their intention to NOT comply with guidelines issued by any government authority. This is always a bad business practice as it ensures you will lose any enforcement action and is proven to lose you customers and your business reputation. Any money you believe you might make by breaking the law will be a tiny fraction of the money you are guaranteed to lose by breaking the law and flaunting it on social media. Defiance and criminal behavior will bring your business the following costs:
Loss of public trust. The public will always suspect your business may be breaking other laws. Building public trust and confidence is important to any business and is always difficult to regain.
Loss of credibility. There is no truth in business that “everyone loves a rebel.” Businesses, customers and the public look for predictability, consistency, steadfastness and trust. Don’t do things to break those down.
Loss of insurance coverages. In our lawsuit happy world you want to do everything you can to make sure your insurance coverages will actually cover the business should you be sued. Breaking the law will lead to refusal to cover or defend or the possible termination of your insurance.
Regulatory, compliance and defense costs. There is an old business adage: “Nothing will burn up cash faster than defending against the government, compliance complaints and lawsuits.”
We wish your business continued health and success as we navigate the stormy seas of these unprecedented times. We hope that these business practices also help you in moving forward.