The Reality Of Seasonal Labor
In addition to being CEO here at Cape & Plymouth Business Media, I own a seasonal family bakery in Dennis Port.
We are popular and operate from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Our operations require a variety of skillsets almost around the clock:
- Staff to scoop muffins and help bake (3 a.m.)
- Staff to tray food and open our store (6 a.m.)
- Staff to wait on customers (7 a.m.)
- Staff to clean and prepare for the following day (1 p.m.)
We are fortunate to have more than 60 teenagers interested in working for us every summer. For most of them, their inquiries sound like this:
“Hi – I love your bakery. I would love to work there this summer. I can work three days a week, some weekends in June, most weeks in July (when sports camp is out of session), and I go back to school on Aug. 17.”
That is not exactly the ideal work arrangement for an employer operating seven days a week, May through Labor Day.
Enter the J-1s.
These international college students fill a need for consistent help for the duration of our season. They are over age 18, which allows them to work before 6 a.m., and after 10 p.m. at night, per state law. Many of them are well educated, are seeking impressive degrees, speak multiple languages and all love our American culture. They have a desire to make new friends and experience American life. Taking into account the costs to arrive here, housing and the cost of their visa fees, they do not take home any impressive savings.
For many students, it is the only chance they will ever have to visit America. We have had the pleasure of many J1s working in our bakery over the years. Most have become lifelong friends and they stay in touch with our family and their co-workers.
This summer, you will see international students in a job that many others did not want or were not able to do. Say hello, welcome them to your town, and leave a positive lasting impression about our region.
Dale Shadbegian, CEO
COVER STORY – Coming to America
BY THE NUMBERS – Floriculture And Floristry
COFFEE BREAK – Exploratory Interviews Still Have A Value In Job Searches
ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY – Diane Buckbee, Naturalist
MENTORING – Tips from SCORE: Interviewing Summer Employees
FEATURE STORY – Ship’s Knees Inn Celebrates A Milestone Year
BUSINESS TOOLBOX – Commercial Lending & COVID-19 Vaccinations
BY THE NUMBERS
You know the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” Well, it’s true … to a degree. Springtime launches each year with the much-awaited appearance of new buds on trees, brown grass turning green and a rebirth of nature like no other time of the year. May flowers offer a riot of color and a variety of heady scents to be enjoyed, particularly after such a long year of being, for the most part, stuck indoors.
However, you didn’t technically have to wait until May to enjoy those beautiful blooms. Countries around the world grow and ship varieties of flowers each day to almost all points of the globe. Floriculture and floristry are big business. Here are some of the numbers:
$57.4 billion – The worldwide market for flower and ornamental plants (those that are grown for the primary purpose of being sold as cut flowers, houseplants and in landscape design) is expected to grow roughly 6.3 percent over the next five years, reaching $57.4 billion USD in 2024, up from $42.4 billion USD in 2019.
55,000 – In 2019, there were 55,000 florists in the United States, a number that has been slowly declining over the years.
40 – As of 2019, The Netherlands retains a key role in the global trade of cut flowers accounting for over 40% of all global export volume.
76 – Seventy-six percent of grown flowers sold in the United States come from California.
$1.83 billion – The United States is the biggest consumer of cut flowers globally, spending $1.83 billion annually. The next is Germany ($1.28 billion), United Kingdom ($921 million) and Russia ($554 million).
By Lisa Rangel
Hope is returning to the workplace. With vaccines more widely available, COVID numbers decreasing and restrictions being cautiously lifted, job seekers are seeing more variety in the openings they are vying for in their job search.
For executive job searchers, who might have suffered significant income loss, these are encouraging signs of hope stemming from this soon-to-arrive post-pandemic period. It is imperative to be ready and ahead of the game so you can move fast to snatch coveted six-figure role positions you are so qualified for and eager to obtain.
One successful way of landing a new role is using exploratory interviews, or informational executive job interviews (IEJI). Once viewed as annoying requests, exploratory interviews (also called informational interviews) are seen as a welcome interaction now that our world is often closed off and isolated from others.
Exploratory interviews are high-value conversations that are often brief that allow you to network, to obtain information, and to leave a good impression in a workplace that might interest you. Whether you seek a position or want a transition, an exploratory interview can bridge the distance between where you are in your career and where you want to be. Even without a current job opening, company management often welcomes these conversations with high-caliber talent as a proactive way to procure talent for the next open position. You can access their expertise and investigate your options by arranging an exploratory or informational executive job interview. Now is the perfect time to do so in preparation of more executive job positions becoming available now that the economy is opening back up.
Some key advantages of the informal nature of an exploratory interview include the following:
- An information resource: An exploratory interview gives you a chance to learn and understand the critical current issues of an industry or position. Publicly available information about a company or enterprise is important, but lacks the immediacy of an inside view. Because there is no hiring pressure, you can thoughtfully tailor your questions to achieve a candid industry perspective not otherwise available to you.
- Career and social networking: Creating opportunity is an essential element of an effective job search plan. An IEJI enables you to meet and greet influential stakeholders in a company or field of interest. Because you are not positioning yourself as a job candidate, you and your contact can naturally explore the questions and answers that arise during the meeting.
- Gaining direction: The meeting can reaffirm your current direction, help you analyze your skill set, or lead to serendipitous discovery and opportunity.
Once you identify a company and industry you want to explore, the next step is to cultivate contacts. While you may personally know an individual you wish to interview, there is a good chance you do not yet have that connection. There are at least two paths to an exploratory interview: a referral from an associate or a cold call. When thinking about referrals, consider who you know in groups such as:
- Professional associations and service organizations
- Social, personal and professional networks like LinkedIn
- Friends and other contacts.
When cold calling for an IEJI, do your research about the companies and the individuals you wish to speak with before you call. Keep in mind the CEO of any company is often heavily scheduled; consider targeting a different contact, such as the CFO or COO. Or, during a short telephone conversation with an executive assistant, or secretary, ask for a referral within the appropriate company department.
A letter is often the best way to reach out to a potential contact.
Making a personal connection through an informational executive job interview just may lead to the professional position you want. The times are changing and hopefully, when these strategies are done successfully, you will be on the receiving end of a great job opportunity that makes you excited to get back to work in a field you love or changing jobs to something that is a greater fit.
Lisa Rangel is the founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes LLC (https://chameleonresumes.com/), an executive resume writing and job landing consulting firm named a Forbes Top 100 Career Website. A Cornell graduate, Rangel has authored 16 career resources found at joblandingacademy.com, including “The Definitive Guide to Writing Your Executive Resume in 2021.”
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) is now accepting applications for the 2021 Mass Tech Intern Partnership, a program that reimburses qualified companies for hiring Massachusetts students as interns.
Now in its ninth year, the Intern Partnership program offers $3,200 stipends to eligible Massachusetts tech companies for the purpose of hiring summer interns.
Companies in five prioritized sectors – cybersecurity, digital health, fintech, the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics – may apply for stipends to cover three eligible interns. Other eligible Massachusetts digital technology companies not in one of those sectors can apply for stipends to cover two interns.
Companies interested in applying to the program should complete and submit their applications by June 30, 2021. Applications, eligibility requirements and program details can be found at masstech.org/intern/.
All eligible technology companies interested in applying to the program must be based in Massachusetts, have less than 100 employees and hire eligible interns as W2 employees, not as contractors or sub-contractors.
Since its launch in 2013, the Mass Tech Intern Partnership program has distributed $2 million to support 950 summer interns at more than 370 tech firms across Massachusetts. The program is managed by the Innovation Institute, a division at MassTech focused innovation and cluster growth across Massachusetts.
Alex Hay, a talented chef as well as the owner and operator of Wellfleet Shellfish Company, was turning surf clams into stuffies on a Zoom event when someone at home asked where she could buy them.
The clams the audience was working with in the comfort of their own homes were supplied by the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance as part of their Meet the Fleet Event, one of several per year.
Hay grinned and said that was his favorite question, but he hopes his answer will change one day. Surf clams, he explained, similar to other seafood caught around the Cape, usually is destined for a meal off the peninsula. Although minced surf clams can be bought here, live surf clams, like the six–inch beauties Hay was opening, are hard to find.
There isn’t enough demand, Hay said. So he offered some advice: Go to a local fishmonger and ask for live surf clams. If enough people ask, they will soon show up for sale.
One of the purposes of Meet the Fleet is to introduce people to seafood harvested off our shores, as well as to fishermen who help fuel the Cape’s Blue Economy.
For this spring’s event, chef, fisherman, and wholesaler were combined in one, as Hay owns the surf clam boat that had been out the day before to harvest the clams on the menu, delivered via Wellfleet Shellfish Company.
Everything from oysters and clams to scallops and lobsters go through his company’s doors, shipped all over the world. The surf clams are often destined for the Chinatowns in cities across the United States.
Form of Government: Open Town Meeting
Incorporated in: 1694
Total population: 866 (2010)
Persons reporting two or more races: 9
Hispanic or Latino: 7
Total housing units: 1,542
Family households: 60.8%
Average household size: 2.2
Median household income: $69,835
Per capita income: $55,126
Mean travel time to work: 16.3 minutes
Educational Attainment (age 25+):
High school graduate: 97.7%
Bachelor’s degree: 57.2%
Graduate degree: 21.2%
ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY
How did you become a naturalist?
My happy career started with auditing a Marine Biology, Cetacean Research class at Bridgewater State. The lab involved collecting data on the humpback whale population found in the Gulf of Maine, during whale watches. It was a match made in heaven for me. I fell in love with the whales and the passengers on board. I’ve been working for Capt. John Boats for many years now and it never gets old. People come from all over the world to see whales and, for many of them, it becomes a spiritual experience observing such an enormous and sentient creature. Fresh air, mostly sunny skies, and lots of whales … I really do have the best job!
What does your job entail?
My job begins with helping to load passengers onto the boat and then going over the safety regulations. I then give a harbor tour and explain where we are headed, usually to the Gerry E Studds/Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where the upwelling currents bring food for a variety of creatures including minke, fin, sei, right and humpback whales, as well as porpoise, dolphins, turtles, seals and a huge variety of fish, including sharks.
Different species have different shaped blows. It’s my job to help spot the whales’ blows (exhalations) and identify what species they are and to teach the passengers as much as I know about them and their habitat in a way they understand and appreciate. I want every single passenger to feel that they have had a rare opportunity to see one of nature’s miracles.
Another important aspect of my job is watching for entanglements. Entanglements happen when whales and fishing gear collide. The result can be a whale starving or drowning. It is part of my job to report any I see and to stay with the whale if it is possible, until a rescue team can get there and attempt to cut the ropes and gear off the animal.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
A favorite part of my job is working on the floating classrooms. For example, we will take a classroom of fourth graders out into Plymouth Harbor and set up five different teaching stations on the boat and let them circulate to each one. One station is a touch tank with critters for them to watch. Station two involves learning how to tie nautical knots. Station three is a live plankton tow and observations with microscopes. Station four is a visit to the wheel house and our captain teaching the students about navigation. And station five involves showing them a lobster trap and explaining how they are caught and their life cycle. The kids love the floating classrooms!
Do you have an out-of-the ordinary job? If you’d like to be considered for this feature, please email email@example.com
NEWS & MOVES
SV Design, Siemasko + Verbridge of Beverly and Chatham announces the promotion of Jen Hocherman to associate principal.
Hocherman joined SV in 2013 and has led and managed a wide range of educational, multi-family, commercial and institutional projects. Some of her notable projects include the Greater Beverly YMCA Sterling Center Expansion and Education Center, the new Glen T. MacLeod YMCA in Gloucester, the Riverview School’s Wellness Center in Sandwich, the Brookwood School in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Endicott College’s Peter Frates Hall and Brindle Hall and a large-scale office for a financial services client in Greenwich, Conn.
Prior to joining SV, Hocherman held positions in Boston at Bargmann, Hendrie, + Archetype and Steffian Bradley Architects.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Cornell University. Hocherman has served as a guest critic for the Boston Architectural College and Tufts University.
Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Company will resume limited bus service starting Friday, May 14.
CEO Win Sargent said that, initially, the company will offer bus service between Hyannis and Boston, with stops along the South Shore and then at South Station and Logan Airport. The number of daily round trips will depend on customer demand.
The company unveiled its new fleet of buses in early 2020 just before the COVID-19 restrictions began. The buses contain advanced safety measures such as anti-collision technology, as well as amenities including upgraded Wi-Fi and other technology and an advanced air purification system.
The company invested $14 million in the new fleet as part of its expansion plans.
Tickets will be either online at www.p-b.com or at the company’s kiosks in Hyannis and South Station in Boston. Passengers will be required to wear masks boarding the buses and the company will follow strict safety protocols.
The officers and directors of Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce have selected Robin Kirk to lead the chamber as its new president and CEO.
Kirk spent several years residing and working on Nantucket and last left the island in 2013 to further her education, intending to return and serve its community.
She served in AmeriCorps and Teach for America and also worked closely with Habitat for Humanity, City Year, The United Way and STEM Alliances, focusing on strengthening partnerships between for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
Kirk graduated with a BFA from Loyola University and holds a master of science degree from John Hopkins University.
BayCoast Bank announces the promotion of Lucia Rebelo to assistant vice president, business development officer.
In this role, she is responsible for developing new deposit, loan, municipal and merchant business in addition to assisting with the planning, coordination and administration of the bank’s relationship development and customer service delivery system.
Rebelo joined BayCoast Bank in 2001 as a branch manager, a post she held until 2015 when she was named retirement plan specialist with Plimoth Investment Advisors, an affiliate of BayCoast Bank. She served as business development officer with BayCoast Bank from August 2018 until her most recent promotion.
Attorney Casey N. Shannon of North Dighton has been named vice president, regulatory policy and enterprise risk strategist at BayCoast Bank.
In this role, she will be responsible for evaluating the effects of proposed legislative initiatives and regulatory pronouncements on bank policies and prepare position papers in response to requests for public comment on proposed regulatory changes. She will also analyze and prepare position statements on various strategic initiatives, including expansion into new market areas; gather and analyze data to support the bank’s enterprise risk position and risk appetite statement, and provide research and administrative support for the bank’s Project Management Office.
Prior to joining BayCoast Bank, Shannon worked for Bristol County Savings Bank.
Peabody Properties’ Leaveine Damas-Younge of Taunton has received an Accredited Residential Manager (ARM®) credential through the Boston Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM®).
Damas-Younge, who joined Peabody Properties in 2014, is a multi-site residential manager. The ARM® designation, announced during the recent IREM® 2021 Economic Forecast, identifies her as manager of a small to midsize residential portfolio. Candidates for the credential must meet specific industry and educational requirements and pass a certification exam.
Elevate Counseling Services, which serves clients in South Easton, Middleboro and Bellingham, has promoted Allyson Balara of Easton to associate director of the Children’s Team.
In this role, she will supervise all clinicians who work with children ages 12 and under, across all of the practice’s locations. She will work primarily out of the Easton location. Her area of specialization is working with children and teenagers managing anxiety and building coping skills to manage stressors.
Balara joined Elevate Counseling Services in 2017 as a clinician. Prior to that, she was a case manager for Beacon Health and worked in the field of community mental health.
Peak Physical Therapy & Sports Performance, a South Shore practice specializing in unique programs that provide comprehensive treatment in orthopedic, spine and sports medicine specialties, announces that Sara Kholandi has joined the Braintree clinic as a medical receptionist.
A resident of Braintree, Kholandi brings more than three years of experience in front desk duties. She is currently a senior at UMass Boston where she is on a pre-physical therapy track to obtain a bachelor of science degree in Biology.
Alternatives ABA, a multi-specialty practice in Norwell specializing in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder, has opened a new location in Plymouth. The practice will be located off Exit 13, Route 3 (formerly Exit 5) and will offer center and home based one-to-one Applied Behavior Analysis and a roster of other autism specific therapies.
Interested families can find more information at: https://www.alternativesaba.com/
Peak Physical Therapy & Sports Performance has expanded its Aquatic Therapy Program to include the Weymouth Club in Weymouth. Peak also offers aquatic therapy at Healthtrax Health Club in Hanover and the Scituate Health and Racquet Club in Scituate.
Aquatic therapy is delivered by specially trained physical therapists in a pool setting. It can be used in cases where individuals are in a great deal of pain and are not able to put full weight on limbs.
Leah LaCross announces the launch of her new business, Scargo Consulting, a B2B agency that assists with strategic planning, designing dynamic onboarding and training programs and providing leadership development for executives and new managers.
LaCross, of Dennis, brings to the business her experience in operations, strategy and leadership development. She most recently served as COO of Cape Abilities Inc. where she led a team of senior managers and was responsible for the oversight and strategic growth of several programs.
She earned an undergraduate degree from Curry College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Suffolk University.
BayCoast Bank has announced the promotion of Paul Jankowski of Bourne to first vice president, e-Commerce and Fintech.
In this role, Jankowski oversees BayCoast Bank’s electronic banking services, including online banking and debit cards. His responsibilities encompass research, development and the implementation of new and emerging financial technologies.
Jankowski has been with BayCoast Bank for more than 40 years, joining as a teller when the bank (then known as Citizens Savings Bank) had four locations. His career at BayCoast spans several organizational roles, including accounting, human services, operations and information technology.
Greg Kiely, managing broker of the Cape Cod Brokerages for Sotheby’s International Realty, and 2020 president of the Cape Cod and the Islands Association of Realtors, has been awarded the At Home with Diversity® certification from the National Association of REALTORS®.
The program is designed to meet the nation’s fair housing commitment by educating and equipping NAR’s members with the tools they need to expand homeownership opportunities.
Peabody Properties’ Laurie McGrath of Weymouth has earned a Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation through the Boston Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management.
McGrath, who joined Peabody Properties in 1995, is vice president of affordable housing for Peabody Properties. The CPM designation is considered the premier public sector property management certification worldwide, is based on a selected set of competencies and awarded upon completion of an accredited CPM program.
The Greater Hyannis Chamber of Commerce announced that Michael J. Princi of Princi Mills Law PC of Hyannis, has joined the board of directors.
Princi was admitted to the Massachusetts and Federal District Court Bar in 1975. His practice focuses on personal injury and civil litigation and includes other general practice litigation such as family law, real estate and estate matters.
Princi is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Northeastern University School of Law. From 1969 to 1972, he served on active duty in the United State Navy, including a tour in Vietnam in 1971. He also served in the Naval Reserves during law school and most of his legal career. In 1978, he transferred from the Navy to the Massachusetts Air National Guard, where he served as Staff Judge Advocate for the 102nd Fighter Wing and in 1990 for the Massachusetts Air Guard, retiring in 1999 as a full colonel.
For eight years Princi served the Joint Bar Committee for Judicial Appointments, two as chairman. As part of his commitment to the ethical practice of law, he was a hearing officer and represented indigent attorneys for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
Princi represented the Housing Assistance Corporation for more than 43 years.
In December 2019, Princi joined with his longtime colleague, Robert Mills and formed Princi Mills Law PC.
Red Jacket Resorts has added two members to its management team and promoted a veteran team leader.
Derek Vance has been named general manager of Riviera Beach Resort in South Yarmouth and arrives on Cape Cod from Vermont with a strong background in hospitality management.
John Funari of East Falmouth is joining Red Jacket Resorts as director of Resort Operations. Funari has extensive hospitality experience on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, most recently serving as operations manager at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth, where he was a member of the management team for more than nine years.
Tanner George is being promoted from front office manager at Riviera Beach Resort to operations manager at Green Harbor Resort, both in Yarmouth.
Carla Kessel of Hopedale has joined Elevate Counseling Services’ Telehealth Division.
Kessel has more than three decades’ experience in the mental health and substance abuse field. She holds the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker designation in Massachusetts and Florida.
Her areas of specialty include individual and couples therapy, with specialty areas that include trauma, loss grief, parenting strategies and DSM-5 diagnostic.
Prior to relocating to Massachusetts in 2009, she was the administrator for the Children’s Mental Health Program in Bismarck, N.D.
Jeffrey N. Tomaneng, CFP®, CIMA® of Newton has joined Asset Management Resources LLC of Hyannis as a wealth advisor.
In this role, Tomaneng will be primarily responsible for advising and consulting with AMR clients on financial planning, investment planning and wealth management issues.
Tomaneng has more than 25 years of advising individuals, families, businesses and non-profit organizations on how to achieve financial success. He joins AMR from Sapers and Wallack, Inc., where he was director of Financial Planning. Prior to that, he worked as a financial advisor at Lincoln Investment, US Wealth Management, Citi, Republic National Bank and Morgan Stanley.
He is a past president of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) of Massachusetts and has held leadership positions for FPA® at both the state and national levels.
Meredith D. Lewis of Worcester, who worked as a mortgage loan officer at BayCoast Mortgage Company from April 2014 to January 2019, has returned to the company and resumed her previous role.
With 15 years of experience as a mortgage loan officer, Lewis is based in BayCoast Mortgage’s recently opened office in Auburn.
Dr. Robert Burr and nurse practitioner Alyssa Caggiano have joined the staff of Community Health Center of Cape Cod.
Burr has been a practicing endocrinologist for more than 40 years in a variety of practice settings including many years of independent practice at Wasatch Endocrinology and Diabetes Specialists in Salt Lake City and, most recently at the Endocrine Center of Cape Cod in Falmouth.
Caggiano is a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner now seeing patients in the Health Center’s
Family Medicine Department, also at the Health Center’s Mashpee location. She spent four years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Emergency Room Trauma Center and worked at Hartford Hospital’s Trauma Center as a registered nurse.
The Community Development Partnership, a nonprofit serving Lower Cape Cod residents, honored this year’s community partners of the year at its virtual annual meeting last month.
The Gwen Pelletier Award for Excellence in Community Service was presented to Vicki Goldsmith, former executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod. In her 20 years at Habitat, Goldsmith led staff, volunteers, homeowners, municipal partners and whole communities in the creation of 140 homes.
The CDP’s Norm Edinberg Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship was presented to J’aime and Christian Sparrow, Karen Densmore and Garret Smythe, owners of Sunbird Kitchen in Orleans. The business grew from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Licensed social worker Meara Baldwin of Chatham has been named director of Behavioral Health at Outer Cape Health Services. In addition to providing oversight of the organization’s behavioral program and clinicians, she will see patients in Wellfleet and Harwich Port. Baldwin succeeds Dikke Hansen, who is retiring from OCHS.
Previously, Baldwin worked as a clinician with Cape Cod Healthcare, and as the behavioral health director for the Kodiak Area Native Association of Alaska. Baldwin is trained in dialectical behavior therapy skill building and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and is certified in Problem Solving Therapy in a primary care setting.
Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich has a new logo and website, part of its goal to update its brand to reflect changes made over the years, including The Hidden Hollow,TM the North American Hydrangea Test Garden, the Cape Cod Hydrangea Society Display Garden, the McGraw Family Garden of the Senses, and The Hundred Acre School.
The museum has also introduced new programs and events specifically for families, along with those for auto, art, history and garden lovers.
The Heritage website has been also updated with simplified navigation and easier access to information to allow visitors more efficiency in learning about upcoming programs and events, registering for webinars, and purchasing admissions tickets online.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands will honor two adults who have made a difference in young people’s lives.
Big Brother Manny Marrero of South Yarmouth and Big Sister Malee “Noi” Prete of Bourne have been recognized as the Cape Islands Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year for their impact on their “Littles.” They will be honored at the June 21 Golf For Kids Tournament at the Cummaquid Golf Club.
In order to win the title, the mentor needs to exhibit superlative influence over his/her Little throughout their match.
Cynthia Lareau of Brewster, a former trial attorney and staff judge advocate for the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, has been named to Heroes In Transition’s Board of Directors.
Originally from Minnesota, Lareau earned her bachelor’s degree in English and management from Hamline University in St. Paul, where she also went to law school. After receiving her juris doctorate in 1994, Lareau spent four years in the JAG Corps where she litigated criminal trials her first three years and served as the legal counsel to the Naval Station Great Lakes in Chicago, Illinois.
Following her stint in the Navy, Lareau utilized her legal skills, knowledge and talents at several private corporations throughout the country. She spent six years as the director of legal services for Accenture LLP before joining Boston Consulting Group in 2018 as its associate general counsel.
She is currently a senior director at Cognizant Technologies in Boston where she serves as an advisor in contracting strategies and client negotiations.
South Shore Habitat for Humanity announced that Michael Crisafulli has joined the organization as construction manager.
A resident of Weymouth, Crisafulli brings more than 20 years of construction experience working with home construction companies and as a building inspector overseeing both residential and commercial projects. Crisafulli holds a Massachusetts construction supervisor license and a Massachusetts State Local Inspector license.
Prior to joining South Shore Habitat for Humanity Crisafulli served as the Building Commissioner/Zoning Officer in Ashland. He is a graduate of Wentworth Institute where he earned a bachelor of science in Building Construction.
In his role as construction manager, Crisafulli will oversee all of the new and ongoing construction projects in the 35 cities and towns that South Shore Habitat serves. He will work with the construction committee to ensure permitting and work with volunteers for build days.
The Cape Cod Museum Trail was awarded a Massachusetts Travel and Tourism Recovery Grant of $24,950 for its proposal “There’s So Much to Explore on the Trail.”
The grant will enable the organization to promote visitation to Cape Cod museums, historical societies and cultural centers in a day trip or staycation through advertising, digital/social media promotion, with our organization’s website featuring more than 70 Cape Cod museums. The goal of the Travel and Tourism Recovery Grant Program is to strengthen the economy of Massachusetts through the development and enhancement of the state’s tourism industry.
The Cape Cod Museum Trail was founded in 2015 to support the more than 75 museums and historical societies on Cape Cod. The mission of the Cape Cod Museum Trail is to support and promote the image, wellbeing and financial health of Cape Cod museums, cultural centers and art exhibitions by creating opportunities for networking, collaboration and educational programs in Barnstable, Plymouth, Bristol, Nantucket, Norfolk\ and Dukes counties in Massachusetts.
For more information, visit capecodmuseumtrail.com.
By Marc Goldberg
Question: The summer season is almost here and I am going to be interviewing for employees. What are some great questions I can use in the interviews?
Answer: Many small business owners feel lucky to have someone to fill the spots they need in order to open their small business and stay open for the season without having to work every shift from dawn to dusk themselves. However, selectivity is still important. The people you hire are your brand. They represent who you are and what you stand for. They are the ones you are depending on to offer the standard of care that will keep them coming back. They are the ones that will be responsible for creating the great experiences shopping at your location that will create a referral or reference or just a great comment on Yelp or Trip Advisor. How do you know? Sometimes it isn’t until the newbies are on the job that you find out how they will perform, but by asking good questions and tying the interview to job requirements can get a positive impression of their potential for success on the job.
Your interview process and probes will largely be determined by the position you are seeking to fill. For someone working in a retail shop, the depth of questioning might be more than for a landscaper or material handler. The amount of customer facing time will be a big determinant, which means that the tenor of the probes will be different. In today’s environment flexibility will be of critical importance.
Here are some great questions to use when interviewing summer employees suggested by Alison Doyle (thebalancedcareer):
- Why are you interested in this job?
- When are you available to work this summer? When could you start and when do you need to return to school?
- What days and hours are you available each week?
- How flexible is your schedule?
- Do you have any activities that would prevent you from working on your schedule?
- Do you have summer vacation plans?
- Tell me about your academic goals and grades.
- Why do you think you are qualified for this position?
- Do you have any related experience?
- What other jobs have you held? What did you like best/least about them?
- Have you ever had difficulty working with a teacher or supervisor?
- If I asked your teachers or your guidance counselor to describe you, what would they say?
- If you have worked before, what did you like best about your last job?
- Describe your ability to work as part of a team.
- Why should we hire you?
- Explain why punctuality and reliability are important attributes for employees.
- Do you have any references I can contact?
- Do you have any questions for me?
You also might think about more probing questions.
- What makes you the most qualified candidate for this job?
- How do your friends and family describe you in three words?
- When you think about past summer or part time jobs, what made you proudest of your work?
- How do you feel you can improve our company?
- Tell me about a customer experience that went awry and how you handled it.
- Tell me what you really liked and really disliked about past jobs – summer or part time.
- How would past employers describe you?
- What was the most significant challenge you had to overcome in your last summer/part time job?
Marc L. Goldberg is a Certified Mentor at SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands. For free and confidential mentoring, contact SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands, www.capecod.score.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 508/775-4884.
SPOTLIGHT ON GIVING
19 Childs Homestead Road · Orleans, MA 02653
774-316-4640 · capecodvillage.org · email@example.com
Total number of employees: 3
Annual revenues: $400,000
Year established: 2012
The mission of Cape Cod Village is to meet the ongoing residential and community living needs of adults on the autism spectrum.
Massachusetts, Cape Cod
Robert Jones BOARD PRESIDENT · Henry Perrin EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
We are striving toward complete occupancy of the four homes at Cape Cod Village.
Annual Appeal mailing in December.
Various volunteer opportunities.
Cape Kid Meals
PO Box 36 · Forestdale MA 02644 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Total number of employees: 1
Annual revenues: $220,000
Year established: 2014
Cape Kid Meals (CKM) mobilizes caring people and communities to provide food over the weekend to school-aged children across the Cape who might otherwise go hungry.
The entire Cape Cod community.
Tammy D. Leone
Board of Directors
CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR
CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR
Wealth Management Director, Axial Financial Group℠
Superintendent Sandwich Public Schools
New England Construction Management firm Dellbrook|JKS has completed work at the Nobska Lighthouse alongside Friends of Nobska Light (FONL) and Catalyst
The project was a two-phase restoration of the lightkeeper’s house to bring the structure into code compliance and a renovation of the existing space into a new visitor center and museum.
“Renovation and restoration of a property like this is much different than a new ground-up building. As we worked our way through the buildings, we learned more about the history, condition, and building practices used over the last century throughout the structure,” said Dellbrook |JKS Project Manager Rob Philip.
“As we exposed the existing bones of the buildings during demolition we were able to see how the structures had changed throughout their lives.”
Phase one included façade renovations and building envelope improvements to the existing two-story wood framed building on rubble foundations. The work included hazardous materials abatement, structural framing and augmentation, new exterior windows, siding, trim, and roofing.
The U.S. Coast Guard separately contracted the removal and abatement of select hazardous materials around the exterior of the grounds.
Phase two work consisted of an interior fit-out with new finishes, plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems.
“We were committed to helping FONL maintain the ongoing operations of the lighthouse itself – from ensuring that there were no interruptions in power to the light to hanging the annual Christmas decorations on the lighthouse,” said Philip. The Nobska Lighthouse is very important to the local community and we are proud to have been a part of this project in our own backyard.”
By Ann Luongo
Fifty years ago, William Butcher purchased the Ship’s Knees Inn in East Orleans. His son, Peter, and Peter’s wife, Denise, continue the family business and open their doors to guests from all over the globe with each new summer season.
The oldest portion of the inn, the white clapboard home facing Beach Road, was built in 1820, when East Orleans was nothing but rolling farmland. Yet, the home’s history of welcoming summer visitors dates back to nearly its infancy, when the original owner, Freeman Snow, let rooms to guests. After Snow’s passing, his heirs sold the property and, today, it continues to serve as a summer haven for tourists.
“Many of our guests are beachgoers or seek an outdoor active experience,” said Peter. “With the world-famous Nauset Beach just steps from our door, about a five-minute walk down the hill; Cape Cod Bay a five-minute drive; and local biking, hiking, kayaking and other activities nearby, we are uniquely situated to accommodate all their needs.”
Guests are primarily vacationers from both the U.S. and Canada, but also from Europe, South America and Asia. More than 50 percent are repeat guests who return nearly every year. The appeal of the inn lies in the uniqueness of its three contiguous buildings and rooms and the fact that it is a historic property (known as the Freeman Snow House), according to Peter.
“As with any small Inn or bed and breakfast, the ‘special touches’ provided begin with the talents and personalities of us as innkeepers and are further complimented by our terrific staff,” he said. “We and our staff place an emphasis on being hospitable, and that each guest feels welcomed and comfortable during their stay. Denise’s breakfasts, many with handed-down family Swedish recipes, are our guests’ favorite. When previously served as a buffet style, they were so artfully presented that guests actually took pictures of the buffet before serving themselves.”
Each of the inn’s 17 individually appointed accommodations are all uniquely decorated by Denise from paint colors and wall décor to furnishings, fabrics, linens, pillows and comforters. They personify coastal charm, are simply appointed, and offer guests warmth and comfort while providing a contemporary Cape Cod feel.
Each also includes amenities guests would expect in a large modern hotel, including WiFi, a flat-screen TV, refrigerator, air conditioning, ample electrical outlets and USB ports for devices, and all have recently updated modern bathrooms. The well-manicured grounds include an in-ground pool, lush green lawns and gardens, hammocks, patios and distant views of the Atlantic. A 1,500-square-foot courtyard garden patio with a gas fire pit was constructed in May 2008 and provides guests with a relaxing area for morning breakfast, reading, sunning, or enjoying an evening beverage.
The recent pandemic hit the hospitality industries particularly hard, but the Inn has taken action to provide its guests with clean, safe rooms and community areas in which to enjoy their stay.
“We implemented many changes to keep both our guests and staff safe, and those COVID protocols from 2020 will remain in place throughout our 2021 season,” said Denise. “Among others, they include contactless check-in, check-out and payment; eliminating housekeeping from entering their room during the stay; wearing of face coverings by both guests and staff; and physical distancing precautions in common areas, both interior and exterior. In addition to the above, we have added additional cleaning protocols to our guest rooms and common areas.”
While the Inn had been open year-round in the past, it has become seasonal in the last few years, open from May through October.
The Butchers try to give back to their community whenever possible.
“Prior to COVID-19, we provided donations to local Cape-based charities of bedding (linens, blankets, comforters), towels, furnishings and food,” said Denise. “We continue to support need- and health-based organizations with charitable donations of gift certificates for free nightly stays at the Inn. During the many years we were open year-round, we provided New England pastors from Baptist General Conference Churches free two-night stays at the Inn during our off-season periods.”
Being in business for 50 years is no small accomplishment in any industry, particularly the business of being innkeepers, but the Butchers love what they do.
“Enjoying what we do and sharing with our guests the transformational quality of this special seaside town, the Cape Cod National Seashore and Cape peninsula itself,” is what keeps them going, according to Denise. “Many of our guests return year after year and we enjoy ‘catching up’ during their visits. They become our friends and family!”
By Carol K. Dumas
Gergana Georgieva’s college friends regaled her with stories about working in America and, in particular, Cape Cod, when they returned home to Bulgaria. She was so taken by images of beautiful beaches, quaint towns and the opportunity to improve her English that she decided to leave her native Bulgaria for a summer abroad herself.
Georgieva, then 19, and a student at South West University in Bulgaria where she was majoring in Business Communications, came to the Cape in through a student work visa program J-1 Bridge USA. The J1 Summer Work and Travel program is for full-time university students to experience America during their summer vacation periods and help defray the program costs by working. A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States for international university students to come to the U.S. for the summer. Some 40 countries participate, including Bulgaria, China, Ireland, Russian and Serbia. All applicants for J-1 visas must meet eligibility criteria and English language requirements.
“I participated in the program because I grew up learning the language, listened to American music, watched American movies and I wanted to experience the culture, meet new people and learn how to be responsible at such a young age,” Georgieva said. Having two jobs and paying bills at the age of 19 definitely gave me valuable lessons for the future.” She worked at Stop & Shop and at a local restaurant.
“It’s the most basic level of diplomacy that there is and it works very, very well,” said Steve Simas, a senior account manager at InterExchange, one of several sponsor agencies and U. S. Department of State-designated companies that handle the program. InterExchange works with many Cape Cod employers to find the seasonal labor force needed to sustain their businesses in the high season. “It’s a collaborative effort.”
Host employers recommend or provide housing options for the students. The Rev. Catherine Boyle is director of the Mid-Cape J-1 Housing Program, a ministry of the Mid-Cape Worship Center in Dennis Port, where she and her husband are international pastors. In addition to helping students find housing, the program, which partners with some 20 other Cape churches, also provides welcome dinners and other events for J-1 students. At the welcome dinners, the students are given reflective backpacks, bike lights and other “goodies.”
“However, due to COVID, these backpacks will be delivered to the major employers of J-1 students in the Mid- and Lower Cape areas,” she noted.
Like most exchange students, the experience was a positive one for Georgieva and changed her life.
“My experience with the program was great,” Georgieva said. “I met so many amazing people and I traveled all over the country. Housing was hard to find at the time but I was able to contact a local agency upon my arrival and found a room I could share with my friend. The family we lived with was so supportive and helpful. They would give us rides to work when it was rainy, would invite us to family cookouts and always made sure we were comfortable.”
The program is not only beneficial to foreign students but to employers as well, particularly in regions like Cape Cod with seasonal businesses cannot find enough help to staff businesses during the peak summer months.
The worldwide pandemic virtually shut down the program and affected a great many businesses who depend on the J-1 students for seasonal help.
The Alliance for International Exchange conducted a poll on the economic impact of the program and the effects of the pandemic last year. Due to lack of staff: 93 percent of businesses polled in the U.S. said they couldn’t meet the peak tourist demand; 87 percent reported less customer service; and two-thirds reported they lost revenue.
On Cape Cod, 14 businesses polled said the average loss of business was $180,000.
In 2019, 108,303 students came to the United States via the J-1 program. Last summer, only 4,885 came to work here due to the worldwide pandemic that restricted or prohibited international travel and the shutdown of the program by the Trump Administration.
This year isn’t a sure thing either as there are still restrictions (as of May 1) for international travel and issuing J-1 visas, but many employers are hoping this will change in time for summer 2021.
The prohibition issuing J-1 visas sunsetted March 31 and employers are cautiously optimistic at least more students will be coming to Cape Cod than last year.
“We’ve been proceeding with host employers and students and setting up jobs. We’ve got everything up and ready to go and we’re starting to hear from some embassies, said Perry Sparrow, owner of The Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans, who works with the sponsoring agency CIEE.
The Hot Chocolate Sparrow is a small, yet immensely popular year-round cafe and coffee shop located in the heart of downtown Orleans. Pre-COVID, the business employed about 45 people year round and 75 in the summer. Sparrow works with
J-1s are very important for every Cape business, he said, especially now that the season is extending into late September. Many J-1s remain on the Cape until October, whereas high school and college Americans frequently leave early to mid August.
A much larger business that felt the impact of the lack of J-1 visa help was Chatham Bars Inn.
CBI has employed J-1 students for several years, said Gary Thulander, managing director. The resort employs 250 year round, and more than 650 in summer. The gap has been customarily filled with J-1s, H2Bs and American college students, he said.
“J-1s are super critical to our operations here,” Thulander said. “They fill entry level positions for the most part. They are passionate kids who want to take it all in. This year, it’s a question of how many and when? We just had a call this week [April 13] with CIEE with an update on the program. Looks like as of now J-1s who were here last year will be able to come over, but new recruits will not. So CBI is looking at getting only about 20 percent.”
Like many other Cape employers, he’s been calling Congressman William Keating’s office, state senators, or the countries directly to get the students here.
Students have to travel to their embassy to get their visas stamped and if travel is restricted in a certain country, as many nations are still battling the virus, then those coming-to-America dreams won’t be happening and employers will be bracing for a labor shortage during Cape Cod’s busiest time of year.
Last summer, it was all hands on deck at CBI when no J-1 students were able to come into the U.S.
“We patched up the lack of workers with management and other employees who took on other duties,” said Thulander. “We’re a very resilient industry and we’ll make it work.”
Simas emphasizes that the program is not taking away jobs from American workers; it’s filling a gap in seasonal employment.
“The goal of the program is for these students to experience American culture, improve their English,” he said, adding that the students all have some level of English skills before arriving. “Creating these relationships makes the world a smaller place; it’s the best way to become more open-minded. Lots of employers and students keep in touch well after the program has ended.”
J-1 Bridge USA is self-funded; no taxpayer funds are used, he added.
Georgieva returned to the U.S. after graduation from college in Bulgaria. She was able to move to Chicago and lived there with her family for a while.
“I loved Chicago, but I was always dreaming about owning a house on the Cape,” recalled Georgieva who eventually received her U.S. citizenship. “I am now married to a wonderful guy, and a proud homeowner in Chatham, and I have a job I enjoy.”
By Brian E. Griffin
It’s no doubt that Massachusetts businesses have made great strides when it comes to adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in light of new medical developments, the economy is beginning to open up. This also means that travel along the Cape Cod Canal bridges is also picking back up in anticipation of the summer months. What does this mean, however, for businesses which have adjusted and become comfortable in the present day-to-day of their business operations?
As a regional commercial lending manager with more than 30 years of experience, change is not new to me, or to Rockland Trust. That’s why I tell everyone that now is the time when business owners should be thinking strategically about what their short- and long-term goals look like in the wake of 2020. But this doesn’t have to be daunting. Just follow three easy steps:
1. Identify Changes And Trends In Cash Flow
It’s important that business owners ask themselves if they will be able to get by should revenues remain flat from the prior year. If the answer is no, or even maybe, now is the time to begin looking for ways to conserve capital. This means remaining as liquid as possible to have the flexibility of handling unforeseen emergencies or increased demand. I would also encourage connecting with other businesses in your industry to see how they are navigating these turbulent times. Now more than ever, it’s truly important to talk with your community.
Now, say your revenues go up by 20 percent – finding a way to fund this growth can be equally challenging. In this situation, I recommend requesting longer payment terms from suppliers, or conversely, accelerating terms for the repayment on receivables. By monitoring your payables and receivables more closely, you can allow for greater flexibility with your cash flow. I also encourage business owners to discuss their working capital strategy with their bank. Lines of credit, among other solutions, can be beneficial in times like these so long as you are comfortable with the terms.
2. Maintain Accurate Financial Documentation
In spite of the chaos, tracking and maintaining quality financials should also be a continued priority. Time after time, our commercial lending team will speak with new customers and ask the questions, “How are your margins?” “Are there trends in your cash flow?” Many cannot answer these questions as they simply do not know, and that’s OK because this is where a bank like Rockland Trust or a CPA can help. Ensure your business is prioritizing data and financial documentation, as well as reviewing it on a regular (monthly) basis. This will help your business survive difficult times and thrive in good times. Whether you need to reduce overhead or raise more capital, understanding the financial standing of your business on a regular basis will enable you to quickly make informed decisions as needed.
3. Build A Team Of Trusted Advisors
Lastly, you need to build a team of trusted advisors; this should include a CPA, an attorney, a commercial banker and an insurance provider, to start. This group can provide a wealth of knowledge and expertise. It’s important to expand your horizons and recognize where others outside of your organization can provide value. Having a team of advisors on your side will make updating your goals and business strategy easy, as they will provide you the guidance necessary to be confident in your next move.
Brian Griffin is Senior Vice President and Regional Manager for Commercial Lending at Rockland Trust in Plymouth. He can be reached at Brian.Griffin@RocklandTrust.com
By Karyn H. Rhodes
With the increased access to COVID-19 vaccines, many employers are eager to have their workers receive vaccinations in order to enable normal operations to resume and ensure the safety of the workplace. But can you require an employee to get a vaccine?
While vaccination can keep your workforce healthy, reduce absenteeism, and improve productivity, it’s important to carefully weigh the benefits and risks of mandating vaccinations.
Is mandating employee vaccinations legal?
There are no federal or state laws currently in effect that prohibit an employer from mandating that employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations as long as you don’t discriminate on the basis of disability or religion. However, there are laws pending in several states that, if passed, could prevent employers from mandating vaccinations and protect those who refuse the vaccine.
Before you decide on a mandated vaccination policy, be sure you check to see if it’s consistent with state or local law.
Do I risk violating the EEOC or ADA if I require vaccinations?
The latest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance confirms that the vaccination itself is not a medical examination within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is not prohibited or limited by the ADA. That means you can mandate vaccination and be in compliance. Further, you don’t need to demonstrate that the vaccination is job related or consistent with business necessity.
However, it’s important that you don’t exclude an employee from the workplace who indicates they can’t receive a vaccine due to a disability or a sincerely held religious belief. If a safety-based qualification, such as a COVID-19 vaccination requirement, screens out an individual with a disability, you’ll need to show they pose a direct threat or significant risk of harm to others that can’t be reduced by a reasonable accommodation.
Can I ask an employee if they’ve been vaccinated?
You can ask employees about their vaccination status. While the ADA limits an employer’s ability to inquire about an employee’s disability, guidance from the EEOC indicates that asking for proof of a vaccine is not likely to elicit information about a disability and is not a disability-related inquiry.
However, it’s important that you don’t ask any follow-up questions that could be considered a disability-related inquiry. In addition, be sure documentation that confirms vaccination doesn’t reveal other health information.
What do I do if an employee refuses vaccination?
If you opt to mandate vaccination, you risk getting push back from some workers. In fact, according to a SHRM survey, 28 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to lose their jobs if their employer requires the COVID-19 vaccine. Their reasons could be everything from fear or a political objection to religious or medical concerns.
To help minimize refusals, start by educating your workforce about why you believe you feel mandating vaccination is the right approach for your company. If you worry that a large portion of your workforce may refuse, consider encouraging vaccination instead, which we’ll discuss next.
Should I consider “recommending” vaccinations instead?
Recommending that employees get vaccinated would allow you to express your desire for employees to get vaccinated for the greater good of the company and community while respecting their concerns.
If I don’t mandate vaccines, can I incent workers to take part?
Like other wellness activities, you may incentivize employees to get vaccinated. Incentives such as nominal cash incentives (such as $25), gift cards, or paid time off may be used.
Do I have to pay workers for the time they spend getting vaccinated?
If you recommend rather than require vaccination, time spent getting the vaccine does not likely need to be compensated, unless vaccination takes place on site during working time. However, if vaccination is mandatory, even if it occurs during non-working time, under FLSA, it may be compensable if vaccination is considered “integral and indispensable” to your “principal activity.”
Due to the FLSA and state wage and hour concerns, you may want to consider a policy that you will pay 4 hours per vaccine and apply it standardly to all employees. Keep in mind that starting April 1, 2021, this time can now be reported, and you can receive a tax credit for the time it takes to get vaccinated or time the employee needs to recover from a vaccine under the new stimulus program.
Do I need to offer my employees time off to get vaccinated?
You can grant employees time off to incentivize them. They can also use sick time or PTO to attend vaccine appointments. Since leave to get the vaccine and reactions to the vaccine are now covered under Emergency Paid Sick Leave under FFCRA, that can also be used. In addition, emergency FMLA leave is available.
If an employee suffers an adverse reaction, can they file a workers’ compensation claim?
Yes, an employee may file a claim. If an employer decides to mandate the vaccine, you’ll want to consider the potential workers’ compensation or other liability exposure for injuries or illnesses resulting from adverse reactions or side effects from vaccinations.
What are some tips for a successful vaccination program?
Whether you choose to mandate or recommend vaccines, you’ll want to have a policy outlining:
- Whether vaccination is mandated or encouraged
- Application to all employees or just some, for example, you may have a clinical staff that would be mandatory and a corporate staff that would be strongly encouraged
- Any phases or timelines for different groups of employees based on state recommendations
- Eligibility for paid or unpaid time off if they feel ill after receiving a vaccine (keeping in mind that employers can apply for the tax credit under the stimulus)
- Handling potential exceptions
Karyn H. Rhodes is vice president for Human Resources Consulting at Complete Payroll Solutions, https://www.completepayrollsolutions.com/
By Leigh-Ann Larson
COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on us all, and that certainly includes business owners.
During this last year, entrepreneurs have faced multiple challenges. Would it even be possible to keep the doors open? To keep employees on the payroll? Where will new customers/clients come from if traditional means of networking and meeting people are few and far between? How to handle the in person versus remote nature of the workplace? And what about communicating with employees about what is going on, being realistic yet striking an optimistic note where possible? COVID-19 definitely tested the abilities of business owners to lead in times of crisis.
As therapists, we have seen firsthand the stress that this pandemic has caused on the business community. And as we look toward the second quarter of 2021, there is a glimmer of hope that the COVID-19 vaccines will get us back to “normal” one day.
But there’s a lot of road to travel between “here” and “there.”
How can you, as a business owner, make the road forward a little less bumpy for yourself and your employees?
As you tackle the challenges ahead, remember the adage, “One day at a time.”
“One day at a time” is a great mindset to keep yourself in the here and now as you contemplate these next steps. Science has shown us that when we stay in the moment and engage in here and now activities including meditation, yoga, tai chi and prayer, for example, our brains begin to relax. The chemical response is to calm down our arousal center and experience decreased release of cortisol and adrenaline, two of the hormones that are at the root of stress. So treat yourself to a meditation phone app. Roll out the yoga mat, and build five or 10 minutes into your day to regroup, reconnect and recharge – one day a time.
As that strategy helps you get started, remember to focus on authenticity. “Honesty is the best policy” is a saying that’s been around a long time because it works! When we are honest, we are not defensive.
To that end, it’s worth remembering that whatever uncertainty and anxiety you as a business owner may feel about re-integrating to a more normal work environment, those feelings are probably shared by your employees. So it’s important to be very, very clear in communicating your plans. If you are planning to shift back from remote to in person, provide as much detail as you can. Seek feedback from your team. Be prepared to hear any concerns that your employees may have and take whatever positive steps you can to assure them that they are being heard.
Be sure to stay on top of the latest regulations from the CDC and Massachusetts health officials and communicate the information to your employees. Communicate regularly with your team as you move toward re-integration. Whether you schedule meetings by Zoom, telephone, or by email, keep your team up to speed at all times. We have all lived through a time of uncertainty and information can be very reassuring.
When planning your company’s re-integration, be as flexible as possible. It’s important to consider your employees’ childcare needs, and their own concerns about health and well-being. Take the time to listen to their needs and concerns, and accommodate as you can. This is also a very good time to have some conversations about what the company has been through over the past year – and to solicit feedback from your employees. What is your staff communicating to you about their needs?
Set aside some time and develop some strategies to recognize, publicly, how difficult this past year has been for the organization, and your staff. Acknowledge all contributions, larger or smaller. Gestures of appreciation can go a long way toward making situations better.
It can be challenging to think about this time and place as one you will look back on fondly. However, you have the power to create fond memories in the midst of COVID, and you will then have them to reflect back on in the future. One of the greatest gifts I have found as a counselor is that I am never alone. I have never gone through nor will I ever go through anything that someone else has not overcome. And right now, your employees may need to be reminded that they are not alone – that you are all in this together, working toward a common goal. With creativity, authenticity and the “one day at a time” mindset, we will all get through this together and eventually have one heck of a story to tell.
Congratulations – you have made it this far and you are still going strong. Resilience and flexibility have gotten you far. Trust that process and you’ll be great!
Leigh-Ann Larson is founder and CEO of Elevate Counseling Services, http://elevate-counseling.com, a private practice with locations in South Easton, Bellingham and Lakeville.
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