The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive, unprecedented change in the way we live and do business.

Offices and stores are having to close down. Supplies are running low. And people are losing their jobs—particularly gig economy jobs—at an alarming rate.

It is at times like these that people turn to leaders of industry to step up with words of positivity and wisdom.

But when business owners are themselves struggling to manage the crisis—and the significant impact it has had on sales and declining revenues—how are leaders meant to share positivity?

We highlight a few important ways that leaders can continue to inspire a sense of hope among their colleagues, employees, and the community.

Be Clear About Changes

A number of changes have come into effect due to the crisis—chief among them the need for people to self-isolate.

This means working from home, for people who can. For those workers deemed essential, companies have been expected to give them the tools to do their job while being safe.

If your company has had to self-isolate, be clear about what that means for your employees. How much flexibility do they have in terms of working hours?

Remember, children are now at home, as well—employees will have to take care of their charges while working. It may not be feasible for them to stick to the regular 9-5.

If there is a cause for having to let people go, send out communications in a timely manner. According to these HR statistics, everyone from job-seekers to customers value transparency in a company—so, be open.

And when you downsize to cope with the impact of COVID-19, don’t leave your employees without any resources—ensure they have some kind of package to get them through the next couple of months, or at least till you are comfortable rehiring.

Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions

With sales dwindling rapidly, business owners can have knee-jerk reactions to ensure that the company continues in some capacity until the end of the pandemic.

But these reactions can have a negative impact on your business model in the long run.

Without employees, it will be impossible to run your organization—you may save on salaries but you won’t have anyone to do the actual work.

Additionally, the impact on your company’s goodwill would be catastrophic. When people have jobs, their community thrives. When they lose their jobs, the community never forgets.

By letting employees go, you will have saved something of your dwindling resources, but what will you be coming back to?

Will the community you exist in—and subsist on—even want to welcome you back? Remember that the world is even more concentrated on social media now—your reputation will be on full blast for everyone to see.

Part of your crisis management plan should be keeping your employees informed and comforted—so they will want to return to you and won’t have a reason to tear down your reputation.

Look for Alternatives

With a large part of the economy being shut down, businesses are looking at colossal losses in revenue. But that doesn’t mean you give up and close down your business.

Now is the time for innovation and creative thinking. Your customers still need you and they want to support you—they just don’t know how to get to you. So, you have to find a way.

If your business is service-oriented, think about holding digital learning classes or tutorials, or selling vouchers that can be redeemed at a later date.

For companies with a brick and mortar business, consider pivoting to remote selling—team up with a packaging and delivery service so you can send your products to customers, or arrange for curbside pickups.

And don’t be afraid to ask your customers and clients what they would like from you—we are all in this together and most people genuinely want to help each other out.

Share What You Have Learned

The lessons that business owners are learning from the current crisis will be crucial to the running of organizations in the near future.

Since companies are finding different and more innovative ways to make it through the difficult stages of the pandemic, they should be sharing these methods with others.

With content being at a premium now—online users of every sphere are desperate to read, watch, and consume more—now is the time to share the lessons you have learned.

Business owners and their marketing teams should be writing blogs, creating videos, and putting together whitepapers about their experiences and their findings.

If you’re wondering how to create this content, take inspiration from these white paper examples.

You can outline the kinds of policies you have created, the feedback you have received from them, and what you would do differently, or keep the same.

Sharing your knowledge is key to building a sense of community in these trying times—and you might learn something new along the way.

Conclusion

The current crisis is at a scale that we haven’t seen for a very long time. This means that the people who can make a difference need to step into the light and lead others.

Business owners are in a unique position to do just that—they have connections with employees, customers, suppliers, and the community. A lot of people are looking to them for hope and inspiration.

Be positive and be innovative—that is the only way that organizations and the people they serve can get through this situation.