Written by Bruce Hein, Owner at Express Employment Professionals 

Saying this year didn’t go exactly as planned may be the understatement of 2020. Businesses that made bull-market goals and optimistic development plans had to reevaluate their vision for the year, even to the point of having a plan just to maintain some sense of normalcy within their organization.

So, as the year comes to a close, leaders are faced with a similar choice to make when creating goals for next year: should our goals be lofty and aggressive or stay on the safe side in case 2021 is similar to 2020. And if a company fell short of their goals due to the COVID-19 pandemic, should the same goals stay intact or be revised under more realistic conditions?

The best way to answer these questions is to change the way you make goals altogether by evaluating past achievements and building on that foundation.

Change to a Weekly View

Some businesses evaluate their progress through the year by comparing a week or quarter to the same period of time over the past year. While year-over-year analysis has been the norm for creating a standard of how your business is faring, using this approach in 2020 is like comparing apples and oranges; it’s just not as relevant.

Instead, consider taking a week-over-week, month-to-month or quarterly update approach to see the progress your company has made over the course of the year. Once you have strong data points, make your 2021 goals based on the growth percentages experienced this year.

Acknowledge and Make Goals Based on Little Wins

Maybe you didn’t hit the audacious goal you strived for this year, even if you were on pace to do so. But, while other businesses had to furlough workers or thin out their staffs, your company was able to maintain and retain its workforce. Or maybe, you were able to retain your client base while your competitors had to shut down divisions or cut loose customers.

Acknowledge the areas of your organization that fared well during the pandemic and make 2021 goals compared to those base points. Build upon the little wins and look toward bringing back a sense of normalcy within your company.

Embrace the Failures and Focus on the Future

For most companies, 2020 represented a year full of setbacks and struggles. This may be the first year your company posted a loss since it was first opened. Or maybe, you took a hit trying to keep the company afloat during economic lockdowns and aren’t sure how you’ll recover.

There are real issues companies are facing today that make optimistic goal-setting more difficult than ever. But if you are able to analyze the events of this year, chalk it up to experience, and make plans and put systems in place to protect yourself and your team for potential future events, you can come out of this year with newfound vigor and drive.

Focus on the future: what you can control, what you can’t control, what is in your prevue to affect, what is out of your hands, etc. Embrace the setbacks of this year and walk into 2021 with resolve on plans based on past achievements. Who knows? Maybe next year will be your breakout year. As always, the best is yet to come. You just have to be ready to embrace it.

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Maintaining strict social and household bubbles has proven to reduce the risk of virus transmission in our personal lives. Similar practices could also reduce the risk in our workplaces, especially now as infection rates rise in many locales.

“Taking a few simple steps to reduce contact among employees could make a big difference,” says WSPS Account Manager Kathy Wrzos. Here’s what she suggests.

Conduct a COVID-19 risk of transmission assessment to determine where and how transmission through close contact could occur. Take your lead from Ontario’s guideline for developing a workplace safety plan. The guideline identifies two primary ways in which COVID-19 spreads:

  • when in close proximity to others
  • by touching your face with hands potentially contaminated by touching surfaces or objects

The guideline also notes that the risk of infection increases if you

  • interact with more people
  • work in enclosed spaces – working indoors is riskier than working outdoors
  • spend more time with people who may potentially be infected

With these factors in mind, identify tasks, practices and behaviours that could put workers at risk, and assess the risk. Look for opportunities to minimize movement, such as situations where workers or operations may not need to extend their presence throughout the facility.

Minimize close contact – reduce interdepartmental contact where possible 

The goal is to minimize employee movement and interactions as well as the length of time employees spend in close contact in closed spaces. The following options could be applied in many settings:

  • cluster workgroups or departments
  • organize work and tasks to minimize employee movement and interactions – if you are carrying out job rotation, ensure surfaces are cleaned and disinfected in the new work area and consider rotating the entire work group where possible
  • keep people on the same teams and shifts
  • movement between departments
  • eliminate overlaps between shift changes, leave a buffer period between shifts and breaks, and arrange for individual groups or departments to take their breaks together, where possible
  • encourage workers to maintain physical distance during scheduled breaks
  • eliminate in-person communication in favour of electronic communication

Additional best practices to reduce the potential for transmission include:

  • wearing a mask or face covering for source control; masks are more effective when worn correctly (over the nose, mouth and chin) by the individual and those around them
  • providing sanitizing materials where handwashing may increase contact with others
  • promoting proper cough and sneeze etiquette
  • sanitizing frequently touched surfaces and common areas, such as entrances, counters, door handles, handrails, switches, elevators and washrooms
  • repositioning workstations or installing transparent barriers where it may be difficult to maintain physical distance
  • encouraging workers to wash their hands after contact with others or surfaces others have touched, especially before breaks or movement through the workplace

Specific settings also offer unique opportunities to minimize close contact and interdepartmental movement throughout the operation. Below, Kathy provides sample suggestions for three different scenarios: restaurants, industrial facilities and retail operations.

Reducing potential close contact in a restaurant setting

In most restaurants there is the front of house – host, servers, bussers, bartender, general manager and anyone else who might interact with customers – and back of house – kitchen manager, head chef, sous chef, line cooks, dishwashers, etc. Options for minimizing contact between front of the house and back of the house include the following:

  • creating a no-contact pass in a neutral location
  • identifying and removing a requirement for workers to carry out any tasks outside of their work area
  • set up multiple service stations and assigning staff to specific stations
  • creating one-way patterns of movement (e.g. entrances and exits, to a washroom and back, among tables, from the dining area to service stations, from the food dispatching area to tables…)

Reducing potential close contact in a manufacturing facility

In most manufacturing facilities, work is organized by department and work team. Encourage these groups to stay apart from other departments and teams; for example, during breaks or shift changes. There are some positions which see more movement throughout the operation, such as quality assurance or maintenance, where managing distance and contact may require work reorganization or a different approach. Considerations for reducing potential close contact when not necessary in a manufacturing facility include:

  • demarcating available breakroom stations to promote physical distancing during lunch and breaks
  • managing shared spaces by organizing shifts/teams together, and staggering lockers and changing room space to promote physical distance
  • scheduling regular production maintenance off shift or when people are not working in that area; if maintenance must take place while other people are moving around, promote physical distancing by installing a temporary barrier around the space

Reducing potential close contact in a retail setting

Many retail stores are divided into departments. Keeping functions within departments can reduce unnecessary contact. For example, in grocery stores, have produce staff work only within the produce department and not perform duties in the meat or deli areas. Here are some other suggestions to minimize contact between departments:

  • rearrange the retail and stockroom floors to promote one-way traffic and organize stock by department
  • assign employees single tasks or responsibilities, such as check-out or change room only
  • manage stocking or restocking during off-peak hours in work groups
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The Chamber is working on a Local Holiday Gift Guide – We will be creating a shop local gift guide for chamber members to gain inspiration for their holiday shopping this year.

Simply send us an email at info@slchamber.ca by Nov 30th with an image of your product/service to be featured. The Virtual Guide will be sent out Friday, December 4th.

#sharejoy #shophere #shoplocal

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The generosity of our community enables The Inn to help thousands of people. Whether it’s focusing on purchasing food items most needed or getting those bulk purchase deals, helping that family stay housed with Rent/Utility assistance or providing school supplies to children, your financial donation allows The Inn to help in so many ways!

The Inn of the Good Shepherd is a registered Canadian charity and we are pleased to be able to provide a tax receipt for all financial donations.

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This week’s Black Friday sales have the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce underscoring the importance of shopping local.

CEO Allan Calvert said people might be inclined to shop online for convenience, but sites like Amazon don’t provide any benefit to our community where we live.

“Keep in mind some of these giant outlets do not participate in paying local taxes, for example, or contributing to our community when it comes to some of the social organizations that desperately need help this time of year like the Inn of the Good Shepherd, Rebound and Pathways,” said Calvert. “Often we find it’s the local retailers that are the ones that typically step up and, if it’s not financially supporting some of these organizations, they provide gift items for events like the Rotary charity auction.”

Calvert said small businesses are the backbone of the local economy and they need to be supported more than ever during the pandemic.

“Typically anything that you’re shopping for, if you look hard enough you can find it here, if anything buy gift cards from these retailers.”

He noted the plight of small business owners in locked down areas like Toronto is heartbreaking.

“I’ve been watching some of the national media, especially in the metro Toronto area, where they’re interviewing small shop owners and they’re absolutely brought to tears and crying in the interview. That is not something we want for our retailers in this town.”

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Pathways Health Centre for Children is taking one of its biggest fundraisers online.

Executive Director Alison Morrison said the pandemic has forced them to reimagine their Secret Santa Shoppe for 2020.

“With COVID-19 we couldn’t find a way to have all of our children visiting our centre to place those special orders for Christmas shopping,” said Morrison. “So we’ve taken the event online.”

Morrison said families can make gift requests online at pathwayscentre.org until November 27.

She said the elves will do the shopping and then families will be invited to a special curbside pick-up event at 1240 Murphy Rd. on December 11.

“We’re hoping that families will come in their cars to Pathways Health Centre for Children where we will have an event set up that’s still going to be special for kids. Christmas trees and music and our dancing elves that will deliver those packages right to your car window.”

Pick-up hours are 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. but further times will be scheduled if needed.

The Secret Santa Shoppe raised $43,000 last year.

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Farm Credit Canada (FCC) opened a new office in Sarnia on September 28. The office, located at 111 Business Park Drive, offers a great location for customers and staff, right off the highway and just on the edge of town. Previously located in Wyoming, the FCC team of 13 employees relocated in Sarnia, in September.

“At FCC, we care about our customers,” says Perry Wilson, senior district director at FCC. “When our lease expired, we saw an opportunity to ensure that our office location supported our commitment to excellent customer service. We conducted market research and found that Sarnia was the best location for our customers and staff.”

The Sarnia office serves more than 500 customers for a loan portfolio of $560 million. The new 4,900 square feet office space has allowed the local FCC team the flexibility to better serve the needs of customers and the agriculture industry.

“Never before has Canadian agriculture mattered more to Canada or the world,” says Wilson. “Agriculture is the backbone of a strong and healthy Canada, and the world relies on Canada as a source of safe and healthy food. FCC advances the business of agriculture by providing products and services tailored to the industry. As Canada’s leading agriculture lender, we’re happy to open a new office in Sarnia.”

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CERS provides direct and targeted support to business owners covering up to 90% of eligible expenses.

Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.

If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.

To find out if you are eligible & access more resources, click here.

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Join Fairwinds Lodge, Lambton Ford & The Inn of the Good Shepherd on Friday, November 27th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Lambton Ford. Donate your Teddy’s, Toys & Tins to support the Inn and Anthony’s Children’s Christmas Party. 

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Sarnia has received the first $1 million payment from Cestar College of Business, Health and Technology for a new dock at Sarnia Harbour.

The Toronto-based affiliate of Lambton College has pledged $4 million for the dock, a key component of the Sarnia-Lambton oversized load corridor.

“While we have all faced challenging times this year, it brings us great joy that we are able to give back to the City of Sarnia through this donation,” said Cestar director Adrian Sharma.

The Cestar Dock will become the water terminus of the corridor which, when complete, will provide an unobstructed road route to improve the competitiveness of local fabricators and large industry by reducing shipping costs and boosting exports.

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