A recent survey of small businesses across Canada shows that one-quarter of small business employees are refusing to return back to work. With concerns over health and safety, and childcare, paired with ample coverage through unemployment benefits, the rush back to the workplace simply isn’t there.


And of course, if you find yourself up against these arguments as a business owner, you want to be sympathetic. Heck, if the tables were turned, you might find yourself hesitant to jump back in the saddle, too.


As the boss though, you’re aware of what needs to be done. You see that, despite recent adversities, the future of small business and entrepreneurship is a bright one. You just have to be willing to push forward — and show up as a leader.


Emotional Support is Just as Important as Tactical

The difference between managers and leaders is that people follow the latter by choice. In times of hardship, your job title isn’t enough to persuade people back into the workplace.


If you view your staff as cogs in the wheel, it’s time to reexamine your approach. These are people up against their own stressors and fears, just like you. Leaders recognize this sameness.


Your employees need emotional support and reassurance from an employer they can respect. Ask questions, be present, and learn about the struggles your employees are up against. Sometimes it’s enough for people just to know they’ve been heard.


Similarly, open up about your own situation. Genuine, emotional expressions foster a sense of trust and loyalty — a long-term benefit that far exceeds simply having bodies to open and close a store on any given day.


More Heads Are Better Than One 

There are times when you’re going to have to go out on your own and get the job done. If that’s how you approach every task in the workplace, however, where’s the accountability?


You can’t expect people to feel important or necessary in a workplace environment if your method is to dictate a laundry list of needs. This is especially true when times are tough and having a sense of purpose is crucial.

Recognize that embracing your team’s skills is good for both you and them. Leaders don’t know everything or have all the answers, which is why they look to those surrounding them (their employees and mentors) to develop meaningful solutions.


There’s Comfort in the Growth Mindset

There are two types of people: those who see problems and those who see solutions. It’s easy to identify and linger on problems. If you want to move your business forward, however, you have to be willing to look in that direction.


Present your employees with a plan that emphasizes the importance of problem-solving. You may not have all the answers but knowing you’re actively seeking solutions offers a sense of comfort.


For yourself as well, now is a great time to connect regularly with other small business owners and entrepreneurs. Take advantage of free training resources and expand your skillset rather than dwell on what’s currently lacking.