Sunday, Oct 24, 2021

Being a Faithful Boss When a Pandemic Nearly Kills Your Industry

A Christian restauranteur relies on God while navigating his first major layoffs, angry customers, closures, and the continued challenges brought on by COVID-19.

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When COVID-19 started to spread last year, none of us knew how dramatically or how long this virus would affect our lives.

As a restaurant owner, I was forced to make critical decisions during the early weeks of lockdown, when people were confused, scared, and trying to make sense of conflicting information about the threat of the virus.

I watched sales drop at each of our locations anywhere from 60 percent to 90 percent as we shifted from dine-in services to carry-out and delivery only. As a result, I had to lay off employees, something I had never been forced to do apart from closing a location.

As a Christian, I’ve always been open about how my faith drives everything I do and shapes how I run my business. The decision to dismiss employees was agonizing, but I wanted to come up with the most ethical and moral way to care for those who worked for us. My commitment to leading and caring for people biblically didn’t let up just because times got tough—in fact, I had to lean on God for guidance and hope more than ever.

What’s the most gracious way to cut employees in the middle of an economic crisis and a pandemic? None of us had been through this before, and there were no easy answers. We made sure to keep on the payroll a few individuals who needed to maintain health insurance to care for serious medical issues. We created a three-tier list of employees, ranked by skill level and attitude. We ended up having to lay off those on the bottom tier; thankfully we never had to move to the second tier.

But I wanted to help those I had to let go. I looked for ways to offer support even after they were no longer on my payroll. I emailed them on a regular basis with information about ways to file for unemployment …

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