An Open Book

Working through a crisis is an opportunity to show people what you’re really about

During the last six months, we’ve been forced to adapt to a new way of doing things. Our staff all transitioned to working from home, and despite some small difficulties, I’ve been so grateful to be able to continue working.

I’ve been lucky. For many people, this spring was challenging to say the least.

But those challenges have in some ways been an opportunity. Drain cleaning and plumbing services are of course deemed essential, and from what I’ve heard, many of you are busier than ever. I hope that also means you haven’t had to consider laying off employees.   

As soon as the pandemic began impacting daily life in the U.S., keeping people employed was a top priority for Audrey Monell, owner of Forrest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning. Monell took over as a third-generation owner of Forrest Anderson in 2008 and was immediately tested by the recession. Staff was reduced as some employees voluntarily left for other opportunities, but layoffs are not an option for Monell, then or now.

“We’re keeping everybody on. Our guys know if they need anything, we’re here for them. They know that they still will have a job no matter what,” she says. “I was thinking earlier today about the true character of a company, which shows itself when people are scared but everyone pulls together.”

In one of this month’s profiles, Monell adds that it’s not always easy for smaller businesses during times like these. Some cannot afford sick leave out of pocket. Maybe they don’t have established relationships with vendors or lenders that they can rely on for extra help when they need it.

Since she’s been through a recession before, Monell knows the way she leads her company is incredibly important right now. Her advice to others is to focus on transparency. Be honest with your employees — about labor laws, where you see the workflow heading in the future and any struggles the company is having.

“I’ve seen other companies where employees were unclear about what was going on and they bailed. Our guys know we will get through a bad time because we all are in this for the long haul,” she says.

That advice holds true in this crisis and out of it. You depend on your employees now as much as you ever did, and you want them to be around when we see the other side of this crisis and the economy is recovering.

As Monell says, “You get to see everybody in the worst possible situation and see how they deal with it.”

When your employees look to you to see how you’re dealing, make sure they see an honest, open book. They will be secure in the knowledge that they work for a company that’s trying to do right by them, and they will continue working hard for you.

Have their back and they’ll have yours.

I hope you enjoy this month’s issue.


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