Why You Should be Working Harder During COVID-19

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, now is your time to show what you’re made of.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been hard on all of us, to say the least.  As a culture that relies heavily on social interaction, in-person meetings, and the freedom to be able to do what we want when we want, the required adjustments of our everyday lives has been…tough. And to be frank, pretty crappy.

Throughout the tough times, we get to see the people that we truly are.  These tough times help to distinguish new leaders, bring forth innovative ideas, and separates those who say, “We can’t” from those who say, “We can” and then try their damnedest to make something positive out of the negative.  In times of adversity, heroes come to shine and businesses with the right teams will come out of this stronger and better than ever.  The question is, do you have the right team?  And do you have what it takes as an individual to come out of this pandemic better than you were before?

Work Hard and Prosper

I have not always been a workaholic, but I have always worked hard.  When I was employed in the restaurant industry, it was not uncommon to have a 12-hour shift without a break, or be forced to pick up shifts so you wouldn’t leave your teammates struggling if they were short staffed.  It wasn’t uncommon to volunteer your talent and your time so that the business would thrive.  On Thursday nights, we would have an acoustic musician come into the bar and play for a few hours.  I loved to sing, so he and I would meet up once a week and practice new songs, so I could pop out from behind the bar during my shift and sing with him.  It was fun for both of us, but it was taking the extra time to make sure that we were well-prepared that made the night successful every single week.  When one of our restaurant managers got in a horrible car accident, my fellow employees and I volunteered our time to help cover his managerial duties.  We were like a big, dysfunctional family.  Of course we were there to make money, and we didn’t always agree, but money was not the only thing that drove us.  We truly cared about the business, we cared about the family who owned the business, we cared about our customers, and we wanted to be a part of the continued success of this company.

When I worked in health insurance, I was on salary, and making more money than I ever had before.  My job was to retain existing clients and be the face of my book of business.  It meant being available after hours for dinners or events, traveling to different towns for meetings, and continually bettering my skills to stay ahead of our competition.  Although we were expected to work from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, there was really no clocking in or out.  There was no overtime tracking, or packing up right when the clock hit five.  It was either: you get the job done and keep the clients happy, or you don’t get the job done and clients will leave or employees won’t receive their needed health coverage.  My team was incredible.  We busted our asses every day to make sure our clients were taken care of.  Those of us who saw the bigger picture got promotions, raises, and had more opportunities offered to us.  Those who did the bare minimum, who took advantage of the lack of micromanaging, were the ones who had no issue with time theft and no care as to where the company was going.  They were the ones who would take three-hour lunches when the boss was out of the office, who would sneak in late or leave early if there was an opportunity.  They complained constantly, were resistant to change, and didn’t care about much besides collecting their paycheck.  Those were the people who stayed miserable in their exact same positions for years, blaming the company for their lack of opportunity when they had every opportunity to help themselves and the company to grow.  I worked 80 hours a week at that company and in a year, progressed from an Administrative Assistant who had never worked in the industry, to an Account Executive with 100 businesses on my book.  Every day wasn’t amazing, and in any office there’s bound to be a little bit of drama.  But I removed myself from the negative people in my office, I was candid with my bosses about my expectations and plans for growth, and I made the extra effort to make sure I was the best I could be, so when I asked for a raise, they couldn’t say no.  I knew that all my hard work would pay off.

Improve Yourself As An Individual

As an individual, it’s important to work harder now more than ever.  Contrary to what some may think, COVID unemployment and government assistance isn’t so you can treat this time as a vacation. You have a unique opportunity to learn a new skill and to better yourself in multiple ways!  If you have had your hours cut, or find yourself unemployed, why not use this time to take a class, get yourself healthy, or nurture relationships that you didn’t have time for before?  Why not show your boss that you are the person on the team who is a leader, who will take initiative, and who will understand that times may be tough, but you’re not going anywhere. There is no reason to waste your nights on happy hour Zoom calls or binge-watching Netflix when there is so much to learn and nothing but time to learn it! This could be the life-changing opportunity you’ve been craving!

The individuals who recognize this time as a space for self-inflection and self-improvement will find that COVID-19 didn’t end up hurting them in the long run.  The employees who think outside of themselves and consider the business that they work for, especially when it is a small, family owned business, will realize that working a little harder even if your hours and pay are cut, will reap huge benefits down the road.  Either your employer will recognize your efforts and you can seek a promotion and raise after this is all over, or you’ll learn valuable new skills that you can apply at your next endeavor.  I am not suggesting that employees work for free, but there is a unique opportunity as an employee to set yourself aside from everyone else.  This is your time to shine!

Which Type of Team Do You Have?

I started my own business four years ago, and have worked hard every single day to make it successful.  I have clients from many different industries, and have heard a mix of feedback regarding their teams during this crisis.  Some businesses are struggling more than others. Their teams are working the bare minimum because they know they won’t get overtime pay.  Their employees are unhappy because of their hours being cut, but they don’t understand any of the setbacks the business has taken.  Their employees are there just to collect a paycheck, and don’t care to make themselves better or to help the business that employs them.

On the other hand, I have clients with a team of people behind them who are enthusiastic, positive, and willing to put in a little bit of extra work to help the business.  These clients are thriving!  They have the support to adjust their events to a virtual format, they have the expertise to make their social media shine in a time of digital burn out, and most importantly, they have a sense of optimism about the future.  They know that they will make it, and they have a team of people who not only deserve to be successful, but have thought outside of themselves to help keep their employer in business.  This is the team that you want to have!

As an employer, ensuring that you have the right team behind you to propel your mission forward is paramount, especially during this time.  Is your team interested in your company’s long-term success, or are they only interested in getting a paycheck for the minimum amount of effort?  Thinking about your culture, does your current team support your vision?  Do you have a team of people representing you and your business who are loyal, who are understanding, and who will be with you through good times and bad?  Or do you have employees who are just waiting for the next best thing?  Asking these questions, and having the right team of people in this difficult time, will make the difference between your company thriving or just surviving.

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