It’s hard to watch good, decent businesses go under through no fault of their own. It’s time for some creative morale boosters for your community!
Because even those conservative businesses that had months of operating reserves are now–(nearly) a year into COVID–finding it wasn’t enough.
But what can the chamber do? You certainly can’t end the COVID crisis or soothe the disenfranchisement so many groups are feeling right now.
These are huge, weighty issues that seem insurmountable, but chamber pros are an enterprising group.
We’ve found six great examples of creative morale-boosters that chambers are doing across the country to help businesses. They’re things that are working and can help you do more for those who are struggling.
This is a normal component of what chambers are often involved in within their communities. But with COVID there may be a pivot in this area.
Pre-COVID workforce development concentrated on the needs several years to a decade out.
These days, workforce development may be less about shaping the future workforce and more about guiding displaced and furloughed workers to find industries that are hiring and tailoring their skills to what those industries currently need.
It may also serve the chamber to offer entrepreneurial webinars and classes on starting businesses or switching careers.
Workforce development has transitioned from a macro- to a micro-focus. The Frisco Chamber of Commerce offers a page on their website devoted to all things employment including their job bank listings, state employment listings, a staffing member’s contact info, and others. It’s an easy-to-access resource that places everything in a central location.
Workforce development right now can also encompass things like job fairs and career days. These types of events may take on a hybrid or virtual approach to learning about new careers. And who says shadowing days have to be something only high school students do? If the events are virtual, anyone should feel comfortable attending and gaining information about new opportunities.
Hardship can bring a community together but so can a few feel-good events. A corporate challenge event can take on many looks but the idea is to create teams that can compete in fun activities.
From field-day type skills like the Corporate Challenge at Cy-Fair Houston Chamber to the Virtual Run/Walk held by the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce, corporate challenges can occur in a variety of shapes and sizes.
This is not something that requires an entire weekend or even a day. You can host fun competitions at different times during the month or season.
While it may seem a little frivolous to host a virtual lip-sync battle among your largest employers right now, sometimes your community just needs a little fun.
From information about loans to understanding how to sign up for the COVID vaccine, people need information they’re not used to getting. They need resources and they’re unsure of where to go because they don’t know if it’s a government or private entity that can help.
Since the chamber sits neatly in between the public and private sector, working with both, you are in a unique position to provide a 360-degree look at all available resources.
Take a look at the U.S. Chamber’s “Combatting the Coronavirus” page. There are links to everything from relief package info to vaccine FAQs.
When creating resource pages, it’s easiest to add links to other places. That way as the info changes, those changes are reflected in your information as well. However, if you choose to do this you want to ensure that you periodically click on those links to make sure they are still active and point to the information you want them to.
You may also want to consider creating your own resource that is purely chamber branded such as a reopening guide, best practices list, FAQs doc, or chamber benefits you need during COVID. You can share this resource on your website and beyond. Programs like Canva and Word have templates you can use to create a professional “book-like” look for your resource.
Teaching interested people in your community the critical skills they need to grow their business is an easy way to have a large impact. From social media engagement to drip marketing, many small businesses need to learn how to sell differently with COVID.
If your chamber staff have the skills to conduct the webinars on your own, do so. If not, ask some of your members who are experts in these types of areas to donate an hour of their time to help teach others about these critical online skills.
When marketing these webinars, it’s essential to explain not only what attendees will learn but why they need to know what you’re teaching. Sometimes business owners don’t know what they don’t know. They just know what they need and that’s usually more sales. Give them creative, morale-boosting webinars that help generate those sales and strengthen their business for the future.
Check out this idea from the Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce that is running a series on these important social media skills.
Chamber Member Directory
Chamber member directories can be lackluster. The listings are hard to prioritize to keep them up-to-date and even members forget to give them the attention they need.
But during COVID your member directory can easily become a creative morale-booster with good news on openings and as the place to find out the most up-to-date information on each business. It’s especially helpful with the business environment sometimes changing from day to day.
Invite members to keep business hours as well as specials up-to-date in the directory. Yelp is rolling out this very functionality right now so that businesses can inform the public of their ongoing safety measures. Ensuring that your chamber listings provide the same vital information is a good idea.
The chamber newsletter is a strong way to keep the community connected, provide value to members, and nurture future members into joining the chamber.
The newsletter is an ideal place to spotlight amazing things going on in the community, great discounts, community events, and people doing good work and maybe doing some creative morale-boosters of their own.
You can share a personal message each week and help people get to know you even if you’re unable to see them in person right now. You can post your newsletter content to social media and your website so it helps you provide more content.
In addition to providing good content and becoming a creative morale-booster you can share with anyone, newsletters build your email list. You want to own and grow a list of people who have chosen to hear from you on a regular basis, members or not.
If you choose to create a weekly newsletter, pay close attention to the subject line you use each week and ensure you are sharing content there first that people won’t necessarily see unless they sign up to hear from you.
The global pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, particularly chamber professionals who are solutions providers. It’s difficult to find a panacea for the state of business today but there are several creative morale-boosters that chambers are successfully doing in their communities.
If you’re looking for additional ideas that you can implement quickly, get involved in some of the conversations on the Chamber of Commerce Pros group on Facebook.