During this unprecedented time, employees and independent contractors seek leadership and a sense of stability. As yoga studio owners and leaders, you undoubtedly feel the stress coming from your team and are fielding everything from compensation, return-to-work dates and overall “now what” questions. Some of these are much easier than others to answer. As we await specific information from government leaders on aid and timelines, there are things you can do to support your teachers and staff who give so much of themselves to your community.
The most obvious support you can provide is to direct employees and contractors to state unemployment resources if your business is in that position. As a business owner, keep a close eye on what our federal and state governments are establishing for small business aid and how to apply for those benefits as a business entity. Each state has different rules for unemployment benefit and distribution, regular employees have rules that are generally clear and easy to understand. Independent contractors or self-employed workers tend to be more complex and these are the individuals that will be potentially impacted the greatest during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your studio has the means to get creative in what you compensate your team for, now is your opportunity to thrive through uncertainty.
Ask your team of teachers and front desk staff what you can do to help in this time of uncertainty. This can be scary to do yet powerful. It will give your team a sense that you are in this with them and understand how challenging each day is. Chances are, your teachers and staff members are also worried about your business and want to contribute. When talking with your team, ask them to be thoughtful in what they ask for and come to you with solution-based asks so that you can quickly evaluate if it is something that can reasonably be executed (and compensated for) within your business.
Thriving through this unprecedented time provides you, as a studio owner, the opportunity to find meaningful ways to engage and compensate your teachers and navigate current circumstances together. In times of crisis, people tend dive into their practices even more deeply. Perhaps you will find that your studio has the opportunity to grow while providing and holding space for personal practices to continue to evolve.
Live Video Classes and Virtual Workshops
Maintain as much of your regular class schedule but do it virtually. Give your teachers the opportunity to still teach (and get paid for) their classes but in a new virtual class environment. This can take the form of livestream from the socially distanced comfort of their home or, if you both agree, live from your business to give students a sense of familiarity. If you opt for livestreaming classes, save or record them and make them available via emailed links or even YouTube. As an owner, you can still log attendance, ask students to register for class online and track new students who join the livestream channels.
Utilize tools like Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram Live and Google Hangout to offer yoga, health and wellness webinars for your members. Your team members likely have multiple certifications and would love to put them into play for you and provide new opportunities for your members. Virtual workshops complete with Q&A sessions could include nutrition and wellness, meditation, mindfulness, Aryuveda, deep dives into the many avenues of yoga philosophy, anatomy for yogis, self-care (foam rollers, lacrosse balls, RAD Rollers, the works!) and so much more. Attendance and participation can be logged, as well as any new students pulled into your prospect funnel. As these are likely special workshop offerings, do not hesitate to charge for attendance so you can fairly compensate the teacher for preparing and delivering the content.
Staff members can take over the organization, programming and execution of various challenges (number of virtual classes during quarantine, meditation, daily gratitude, the options go on and on!). Members (old and new) can register, track their classes/activities and utilize a social media group (a private Facebook group through your studio page is recommended) to communicate with each another on progress or ponderings. Depending on the arrangement and what the challenge includes, develop a compensation structure with your teachers or administrative staff for taking on a new responsibility.
Plan for Re-Opening
Perhaps there are new class formats, teacher training programs or workshop programming that you have been putting on the back burner. If you have not yet organized your teacher training according to new Yoga Alliance standards, now is the perfect time to dive into that project. Utilize your talented and credentialed teachers to support development of new curriculum, programming and any additional learning tools that go hand-in-hand with training. How you compensate your team for such activities is up to you and staff members to determine, but with extra time available this can be the perfect time for planning and preparing for the future and your strong recovery.
Perhaps you have a handy-person or tradesperson on your team that can exercise non-yoga skills for your studio. Projects like painting, drywall repair, facility repairs or updates that you’ve wanted to get done but haven’t been able to complete because, let’s face it, yoga studios are busy places and often have crazy hours. Now is your opportunity to get these tasks completed. If you do hire a current staff member to complete these tasks, be sure to have an estimate/compensation and scope of work that is agreed upon just as you would with any other contractor.
The weeks and months ahead are going to be challenging for everyone. As a yoga studio owner, you have the opportunity to spread positivity, health, wellness and mindfulness to your community. The world needs you and your teachers now more than ever. As you implement ways to remain engaged and plan to recover strong, you also have ways to keep your team working. And, you have the opportunity to be more united and connected as a team than pre-pandemic days. Ask how you can help. You will undoubtedly be surprised at the outcome. On the other side of COVID-19, as teams and communities, we will come out ahead and recover strong.
For daily content updates to help you navigate COVID-19, check out the Rapid Recovery Toolkit.
Marketing Brand Manager
Kristal has over 10 years of experience as a yoga teacher and over eight years as an operations and yoga business leader. Prior to joining Zen Planner, Kristal built large studio communities and membership bases in the Denver, CO area and advised studio owners around the country on best practices for all aspects of studio operations. At Zen Planner, Kristal finds great joy in empowering owners with tools and resources so their valuable time can be focused on engaging with their teachers and students, the heart and soul of every yoga community.