Small businesses have been hit especially hard by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. According to a survey of more than 500 small businesses conducted by the Small and Medium Business Group in late March, companies with fewer than 20 employees were the most adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The survey also found that businesses within the personal service, hospitality and retail industries were most affected by the economic fallout of the outbreak.
Small businesses do not have the financial might of their larger competitors, making it especially difficult for such companies to weather economic storms. As a result, when the economy suffers, many small businesses don’t have the financial cushion necessary to safeguard their employees from layoffs or furloughs.
When social distancing guidelines were implemented, forcing non-essential businesses to close their facilities to customers, millions of small business employees were suddenly out of work. Those men and women are friends and neighbors, so it’s understandable that people want to find ways to help them make it through such difficult times. The following are some ways to do just that.
- Support local fundraising efforts. In response to the financial fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak, many small business owners urged community members to support their staff. For example, in New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the closure of all restaurant dining rooms in mid-March, local restaurant owners organized The Great Jersey Shore Take-out, an effort in which the proceeds of all food and beverage sales on a designated day were given to participating restaurants’ employees, including waitresses, managers, bartenders, chefs, and kitchen staff. Participating in such efforts is a great way to support local workers who have been laid or furloughed as a result of the outbreak.
- Offer discounted services to laid off or furloughed workers. Local professionals can help laid off or furloughed workers by offering certain services at discounted rates. For example, tax filing deadlines have now been extended in many areas. Accountants can pitch in and help laid off or furloughed workers by discounting their tax preparation services. Local financial planners can offer free or discounted consultations to such workers who may need financial advice, including how to spend or invest their financial stimulus money.
- Patronize small businesses. One of the most effective ways to help laid off or furloughed workers is to continue to support their employers. Many areas have begun to discuss reopening strategies, and businesses that can withstand the economic challenges of social distancing are more likely to bring laid off and furloughed workers back when they reopen. Continuing to support local businesses, even those that have scaled back their offerings, is vital to ensuring the jobs those businesses provide return when the economy reopens.
Laid off and furloughed workers are facing financial challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Communities can join together in unique ways to support these workers until the economy reopens.