Seven Workforce Questions that Are Top of Mind During COVID-19: A Resource for Small Businesses

What Small Businesses are Saying About Worker Health and Safety

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, both workers and small businesses have endured unprecedented stress and challenges. In this extraordinary time, it has become increasingly clear that their interests are aligned. For small business owners, the safety and stability of their employees is essential for business survival.

Small businesses owners have moved quickly to transform their operations while reassuring customers and employees that they are doing all they can to keep everyone safe. Many have gone above and beyond to protect and support their employees, from personally driving workers to and from work to giving personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees and their families. They know that supporting their workers is the right thing to do, but they also understand that it is good business. As Laura Wagner, co-owner of Well Crafted Kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland, explains,

“Small business owners want to be good to their employees. Firstly, because we have good ethics. And secondly, we are a small team. We are close to our employees, and we care about their wellbeing and growth. At the same time, we need to keep our employees. The costs of hiring and re-training people are so expensive, and it takes so long.”

Our research team interviewed small business owners, business advisors, workforce intermediaries, and small business lenders to learn what concerns are top of mind in this new and challenging environment. All shared how difficult it has been for small businesses to stay afloat during this time. And, while business owners are finding creative ways to support their workers, there is a need for additional resources – as well as clear guidance and robust public support – to weather this storm.

This resource is organized around seven health and safety questions that small businesses have grappled with since the start of the pandemic. For each question, we provide practical information, examples of steps taken by other small businesses, and links to helpful resources assembled in our Job Quality Tools Library.

Click Here to Download the Brief

  1. How can I reassure my workers that we are following appropriate safety guidelines?
  2. How can I create an equitable and inclusive environment for my employees and customers?
  3. How can I help my employees communicate and implement safety measures with customers?
  4. How can I help my employees manage increased stress?
  5. How can I help my employees get to work safely?
  6. How can I recognize and respond to my employees’ caregiving responsibilities?
  7. How can I support my employees’ financial stability?

About This Resource: Supporting Small Business Owners to Invest in Workers

IMPORTANT: Please note that this resource is a general information resource and should not be treated as legal, medical, or expert guidance about workplace safety. Rely on the information at your own risk and consult the most up-to-date recommendations of federal, state, and local public health and workplace safety officials. E.g., the National Safety Council provides resources that you may find helpful, including federal guidelines and state-specific resources regarding COVID-19 and the workplace. Further consult with your own qualified advisors about any specific issues or circumstances you might have.

This guide is a work in progress, and we hope to continue adding resources, guidance, and examples as we continue to conduct research and as new information about COVID-19 becomes available. We welcome your feedback and ideas.

Brief: “Seven Workforce Questions that Are Top of Mind During #COVID19: A Resource for #SmallBiz.” By @jennyweissbourd, @VivianPVazquez, @RanitaJain1.