The conditions of the JobKeeper wage subsidy were updated on 11 April, including those relating to casual employees. They can be found here:

Many small business owners are throwing all their energies into keeping their businesses going during this crisis, as well as adapting to new realities like remote work, social distancing and wildly fluctuating supply chains. In a world we barely recognise, the potential for stress, confusion or exhaustion is high.

It’s been said that when the pandemic eventually dissipates, a “secondary mental health crisis” could emerge, as the full effects of the economic and societal fallout take hold. To give yourself the best chance of inoculating your business against those secondary effects, follow these steps to manage your team effectively and maintain your own energy and good spirits.

Stay Healthy

You may feel like you need to work twice as hard just now. However, in the words of legendary business guru Stephen Covey, make sure you “sharpen the saw”. Instead of working flat out till the saw – you – gets ever blunter and less effective, put some measures in place now to maintain your health and wellbeing. Encourage your staff to do the same.

Mental health is equally as important as physical health during this time. Pre-existing mental health issues can become exacerbated while people are socially isolated and facing uncertainty. And faced with an unprecedented crisis, people who are otherwise mentally healthy can find themselves becoming anxious – about the security of their business or job; about their risk of catching the disease; or about the future more generally.

Keep your physical and psychological immunity at optimum levels by:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Eating healthily – fresh fruits and vegies and a balanced diet
  • Drinking alcohol moderately
  • Exercising daily, preferably outdoors
  • Maintaining contact, even if remotely, with family and friends.Encourage your staff to do the same; or delegate one of your team members to be the motivator. Set some team challenges, such as who can do the most steps in a week, before and after work or in their lunch break. They can measure this using the free app on their phone. Other options could include a “healthiest lunch of the week” photo competition; or sharing what new “isolation hobbies” they’ve taken up. This helps with team motivation and bonding.

Sometimes the pressure can just be too much. If this is affecting you or your staff, there are fortunately plenty of resources you can access, at little or no cost.
Mental health organisation Heads Up have produced a great guide ‘Actions for small business owners to improve their mental health and wellbeing’, which you can find here: 

If any of your staff are struggling with mental health issues, Beyond Blue has lots of resources and a helpline available:

Communicate and Stay on Message

Clear, consistent communication is always important, but now is vital to promote confidence and reassurance to staff. They, in turn, will help promote that sense of confidence to your customers or stakeholders:

  • Keep all your staff informed on any changes to strategy or direction, and the current priorities for the business.
  • Communicate clearly via a channel everyone can access, be it video conferencing or email.
  • Organise a regular briefing if things are changing dynamically. Allow opportunities to ask questions.
  • Equip staff with repeatable written comms they can use when speaking with customers, suppliers and stakeholders.

Stay Connected

Watercooler or lunch room chats are not possible just now, so it’s important to stay in touch with your team. It could be a check-in every day, a couple of times a week, or whatever frequency suits your and their needs, via email, phone, or video-conferencing.

To help to keep everyone focused, happy and productive:

  • Be aware that individual circumstances vary and consider options to support each team member’s needs
  • Provide strong IT resources and support for remote working so employees can be fully productive
  • Be mindful of the disruption that school closures may cause to families, and discuss workarounds with staff
  • Agree on working hours that employees know they are not expected to work beyond
  • Ensure employees are aware of resources to support their mental health and wellbeing
  • Encourage employees to work in ways that are kind to their mind and body