Securing your ‘key’ during a volatile environment

by Miriam Zettlemoyer

Of course, we hope to never have another global pandemic for the next 100 years. That will be our next few generations’ problems, and hopefully, they will learn from history. Mistakes we made, what we could have done better/different, and have a better system to deal with it. The pandemic wasn’t all bad. Many people have enjoyed working full time and just under the limit to get the “free” government money or stimulus checks. Two checks already, with a third pending as I write this. My advice would be to pay off debt, credit cards first, college debt and/or bank it in savings for that emergency that you know will come up. Potentially, a once-in-a-lifetime gift with no payback. 

There are, however, businesses and people who benefited, or did they? If you worked in healthcare, your job is uber important. Even if you just graduated or heck not even a graduate yet, you were on the frontlines. Doctor and nurses, who when coming home spent months living isolated in their own homes for fear of passing on the virus. Sure, the overtime payments were great but really at what cost with so much stress and exhaustion. I am sure when our medical heroes took their oaths, they couldn’t have imagined 2020! 

The lack of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, food, wipes, PPE and groceries. Understanding the circumstances around the world for people living life each day lacking basic needs. I am humbled to say we are lucky. The abundance our country has and can do is not something to be slighted. Many companies expanded and grew their business models like Door Dash, Uber Eats, and Instacart to meet our basic needs. Come on, how cool is it that your Door Dash driver went to Target to pick up your toilet paper and drop it off at your door with other necessities. 

What did you find out about your business? You sent your staff home to work remotely for a couple of weeks while this thing burned out; oh wait, we are still working remotely. A year later, Zoom, Teams, and the need to put your pants on during a meeting rang true. How about, it’s not a good sales practice to virtually impose antlers on yourself when giving that business pitch to prospects. Do you really need that large office space? Were you able to keep all your employees, and did the cream rise to the top? Did you identify that key person, or worse, did that key person leave? How much did that cost you not having a disaster plan in place and the right protection to cover the cost to replace that superstar? When you look at your employees and relationships in your business, we found there are things and people we could do without but somethings we could not. How can we solidify the employer, employee relationship to a more beneficial and meaningful item than just a job? There are planning techniques we can utilize to secure your employee to ensure that they won’t leave for an extra dollar or two to another job or your competitor. Instituting key person carve-outs funded with insurance, operational funds, or other benefits that can be given to those who you can’t do business without. This locks them into thinking twice about moving on from you and the company. These bonus structures can be set up for their future while securing yours. A strategy like this has been used for years. It offers both the employer and employee “skin in the game” rather than ownership in the company, which could often be messy for the “not all in” employee. 

I’m certain we learned a lot about our businesses, and hopefully, very soon, our world will get back to normal. Those who helped you continue your business, and relationships that kept your business running, don’t forget that a ‘thank you’ will go a long way. Securing that forever thank you can be easily incorporated into your business plan. Talk to an advisor today who specializes in business planning for ideas to secure that key employee. During all that new normal chaos, remember those that kept us going in 2020! 

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