Q&A: Has the pandemic permanently changed small business?

Jean Spencer, Senior Manager of Integrated Campaigns at Zenefits.
Mar 25, 2021

The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate in countless ways, but how much of these changes will persist post-pandemic?  In this episode of POPS!, Zenefits Sr. Manager of Integrated Campaigns Jean Spencer breaks down the top three ways the pandemic has permanently changed work and how HR leaders should respond to each. Do you […]

The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate in countless ways, but how much of these changes will persist post-pandemic? 

In this episode of POPS!, Zenefits Sr. Manager of Integrated Campaigns Jean Spencer breaks down the top three ways the pandemic has permanently changed work and how HR leaders should respond to each.

Do you have a question for our experts? Submit it here: https://www.zenefits.com/workest/ask-a-question/

In this Q&A, you’ll hear: 

  • [00:34-02:07] The top three ways the pandemic has permanently changed work
  • [02:50-03:18] Why small businesses should embrace flexibility post-pandemic
  • [03:18-03:45] Keeping business running smoothly with technology
  • [03:47-04:43] Why the time to update the employee handbook is now

After you listen:

Ask a SMB Workplace Question and get featured on POPS! The People Ops podcast.

POPS Star Bio

Jean’s love for small business runs deep. In 2010, she became an entrepreneur with her invention of touchscreen gloves (Agloves).  She learned first hand (pun intended!) about running and building a business. Her professional career has taken as many leaps and shifts as her latest personal passion for free solo rock climbing. Really!  She cut her teeth in journalism as a political journalist at the Wall Street Journal, and she’s married her love for data and storytelling in a number of marketing roles including her current gig as the head of Integrated Marketing Campaigns at Zenefits.


Jean: Has the pandemic permanently changed small business? 

Didi: Welcome to POPS, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work Howell by answering one question at a time. To help us answer your question. Here’s Jean Spencer, Senior Manager of Integrated Campaigns at Zenefits. 

Jean: It may be too early to tell for sure, but our HR indicators suggest the pandemic has indeed changed small business and permanent, not temporary ways. According to a Zenefits survey of more than 900 us small business leaders that was published in February of this year, 79.8% of small business leaders.

Said the pandemic has permanently changed the way their company operates. And it’s not just curbside pickup and mass squaring. We’re talking about here. The top three ways businesses are expecting permanent change to their worlds of work are in work styles, their physical workspaces and their people or employees.

Work styles means how companies run their operations and processes. This could be anything like how work orders are approved, how meetings are hosted or how quality assurance measures are completed. For example, business leaders say that because of the remote work transition, they were forced to rethink the way standard operating processes happened.

And in many cases, the new ways improve the whole process. Next, there are changes to the physical work environment. This one’s obvious, but it’s important to note that companies are fully aware that the future of work might not look like it used to and increase in remote employees. More space between cubicles, fewer people allowed in break rooms are just a few examples of how the future might look and feel different.

Finally, businesses point to a change in their employee, makeup as the third, most important and permanent change to the way their businesses work. How companies are hiring, who they’re hiring and the skill sets they’re seeking might all shift with more remote-enabled teams. Companies are no longer bound their local talent markets for hiring, which means hiring and recruiting just got a much bigger C, but it also means the kinds of people, companies are looking to hire might shift self-starters might be more sought after than team leads or people who somehow have a captivating presence via zoom meetings, maybe more solid candidates than bookish types.

No, this is all very speculative, but you can see how removing the boundaries of work locations could have permeating changes to workforces. And it’s something both employers and employees should be aware of. Okay. So you might be asking yourself. So now what, yes. The world of work has changed and yes, we can expect this to be a lasting shift, but what can HR managers or people operations specialists do to better usher in this new phase of work?

Time will be our best tool in some of these transitions time will teach us what’s required and what’s useful, but already we can take some educated guesses about what HR leaders need to be privy of. First, you’ve got to embrace flexibility. Even before the pandemic hit flexible work environments are the second most important employer benefit after health insurance, according to employees.

And you’re going to feel that now more than ever your employees have tasted what it’s like to have no commute to work in their sweatpants from the kitchen table. And you know, what many of them like it. So as HR managers, we’re going to need to adjust our flexible work policies in larger ways that meet employees, where they are.

Second you’ll likely want to invest in more technology systems that allow your workforce to run smoothly no matter where your employees are. Things like productivity, apps, chat apps, mobile HR apps. These all helped companies stay smoothly productive during the hardest moments of the pandemic. And we’re betting that won’t change.

If flexible work arrangements increase your technology support systems that allow your processes to run smoothly, we’ll need to shift to. And finally you’ll likely want to update your employee handbook, employee handbooks. Aren’t legally required documents for employers to provide to employees, but they’re strongly recommended to keep employees informed of new policies, expectations, and consequences of misbehavior or conduct.

If your world of work has changed at all at your company, take a few minutes to review and revise your employee handbook and make sure it’s up to date. And if you think employee handbooks are just antiquated pieces of, for Lauren business artifacts, think again, according to a different 20, 21 survey, this one of 500 employees during the pandemic, 67% of employees said they find their employee handbooks useful.

So to wrap up, yes, the world of work is changing, but if you stay ahead of the curve and aware of how the world is shifting, you’ll potentially provide appropriate benefits to your team and increase your systems for good all while staying operably smooth and productive. If you’d like more information on the future of work, or I want HR templates and tools to make this process easier, visit www.workest.com where we publish new HR resources daily. 

Didi: The question for our experts, you can always email [email protected] or head on over to www.zenefits.com/pops-podcast. For more insights on ton tent for this show and our others. Thanks for listening.


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About The People Ops Podcast

Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

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