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Tackling Employee Burnout After a Tough Year and More of Your Questions for June

Plus incentives for employee handbook knowledge and whether or not landlines are still a ‘thing.’




names written on paper strips

How do I get my staff to read our company policy?

Make it fun. At your weekly meeting, offer a gift card for a fancy coffee for the first person who can correctly answer a question from the employee manual. The key is to have everyone participating, so put names in a hat and draw one — that way, every staff member knows there is a chance he or she could be called upon to provide the answer.

My staff has been doing more with less since the lockdown. Now I fear they are showing signs of burnout — they are getting snippy and seem to be losing enthusiasm for their work. We can’t really give anyone much of a break right now and it’s hard to find good people. How do I restore their vim and vigor? Maybe I could sponsor a yoga hour a week?

Given your staff likely went through a psychologically wrenching time during the lockdown — depending on where you are, some people spent almost a year holed up in their homes — followed by a surprisingly busy rebound in the economy, it’s not surprising your team is starting to fray around the edges. There are no easy answers — you need to find a way to give them a proper break (and no, yoga probably won’t be enough). If you don’t, you can expect to see their productivity levels start to slide very soon, if not already. Perhaps you can start by cutting store hours, at least during the summer months. Could you experiment with closing on Mondays, for example, without taking too much of a revenue hit? Keep in mind that burnout is not exclusively about the hours. Lack of autonomy, lack of recognition for work, lack of meaning in work, a cutthroat, results-oriented culture … can all make for an environment that pushes people beyond their capacity to function well. Talk to your staff. Find out what the pressure points are in their lives. Maybe some are caring for parents. Maybe their spouse has lost his job. Maybe they have sleep or other health issues you don’t know about. Consider offering mental-health days (and encouraging people to take them), paid leave, or other benefits that support a healthy work-life balance. Also, review your people and management skills. Can you be more generous with praise? Increase the frequency of your messaging about the value of the work you do? Give people more control over their work? Bottom line though is that if the cumulative burden of the work is too great, they need to work less. You need to find a way to whittle the load.

I’m thinking of dumping my landline. I do nearly all my work through my cellphone, have a small optical, and it’s just one more expense. What do you think?

We think you should hang on to it a bit longer. A landline is still equated with credibility. “Having one will prove to potential clients your company’s legitimacy, so more will be willing to do business with you,” says Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of A landline implies your operation is more than just you and you’re a stable and reliable business. And yes, telephone technology has advanced hugely but there are also practical reasons to maintain your old phone. Leinbach Reyhle lists the following:

  • A dedicated business number allows you to give out or list one number, as opposed to different cellphone numbers for different staff members. Such consistent business branding is also important for SEO.
  • A landline allows you to set business hours, keeping your personal and private life separate.
  • An office phone will allow you to take advantage of incoming call notifications, professional voicemail, and call screening.
There’s a lot of stuff online about how to boost your Google ranking. But in 2021, what should we focus on?

In the Google universe, you are what you “EAT,” says Andrea Hill of strategywerx. Google will determine your website’s ranking by your online demonstrations of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT). “So make sure you prove yourself on your website. Your policies, content and the quality of what you sell all count when it comes to your ranking,” says Hill. One simple way to begin demonstrating EAT while producing relevant content is with a question-and-answer page. Another page to check and update periodically is your About page, adding information about new staff members, for example. The second key thing is to be consistent with all your store information, especially the basic stuff like store name, address details and phone numbers — it needs to be exaclty the same everywhere.



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