Developing and entrepreneurial mindset

The Benefits of Teaching Stood-Down Employees to ‘Think Like an Entrepreneur’

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the workforce, many businesses have faced tough decisions on whether they can hold on to staff or must let them go. However, the introduction of the Australian government’s JobKeeper initiative in March enabled many businesses to choose a ‘middle ground’ – standing employees down rather than laying them off.

Since JobKeeper was introduced on March 30th, Career365 has interviewed 112 HR directors and business owners to gauge how employers are feeling about this unusual situation. In this series of articles, we’re exploring the insights our survey uncovered and taking a look at how employers can address their stand-down concerns and support employees during this time.

This article is part 2 of a series. You can read part one here.

Part 2: The Benefits of Teaching Stood-Down Employees to ‘Think Like an Entrepreneur’

When questioned about their concerns regarding the stand-down period, 85% of employers expressed worry that their stood-down employees would be using the time as an extended holiday rather than a period of self-improvement. An HR Director of a software company who had stood down 30 staff members stated he was worried that “employee motivation would be down upon returning to work”.

Employers would clearly prefer their stood-down staff members to remain motivated and proactive during this period. But with more than half of those surveyed admitting they had provided no framework for personal or professional development while on stand-down, making this happen seems unlikely unless employees are given some form of structured guidance.

Career365’s Horizons program enables employers to support their stood-down employees by helping them remain productive, engaged, and motivated. One of the ways we achieve this is by helping participants develop an entrepreneurial mindset – which in turn helps them to build motivation and confidence, become more solutions-focused, and take control of their own destiny.

The benefits of developing an entrepreneurial mindset

Adopting the mindset of an entrepreneur – or an intrapreneur within an organisation – offers a wide range of benefits in both a personal and professional context. And the great news is, anyone can learn to think like an entrepreneur or business owner with the right guidance.

Getting into this entrepreneurial mind frame can result in greater confidence and resilience, as well as becoming more motivated and proactive. These attributes have obvious advantages in the workplace, but can also have a very positive effect on mental wellbeing, which will be hugely beneficial to employees facing the emotional pressures of being stood-down while facing the social restrictions of a COVID-19 environment.

Here are some of the ways that developing an entrepreneurial mindset can benefit stood-down employees and, indirectly, their employers:

Helping employees become more solution-focused

One thing that separates successful entrepreneurs from others is their attitude towards challenges. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will help stood-down employees improve their problem-solving skills, enabling them to return to their roles with a newfound enthusiasm for overcoming challenges they encounter.

This solution-focused attitude can help to tap into creativity and encourage stood-down employees to ‘think outside the box’, which will be a great asset in their return to regular work. What’s more, this creative mindset will also be beneficial during self-isolation – enhanced creativity will help stood-down employees look beyond the next Netflix binge and seek out more fulfiling, healthy ways to spend their time, such as learning a new skill.

Supporting stood-down staff members to be more confident

Thinking like an entrepreneur can help to improve decision-making skills and self-confidence. As your stood-down employees learn to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, their confidence is likely to grow and their ability to make fast, qualified choices will improve.

While these capabilities have clear benefits for performance in the work-related arena, skills like these will come in very handy during the stand-down period, as emotions such as fear, uncertainty, and doubt take hold. Having confidence in themselves will help stood-down employees to navigate these concerns and remain in a positive headspace.

Encouraging stood-down employees to be accountable

A key aspect of developing an entrepreneurial mindset is learning to take accountability for your actions. During this stand-down period, this could mean stood-down staff members take some time to reflect on their role and performance, in order to identify areas they’d like to improve upon.

Encouraging employees to be more accountable in both their work and personal lives will also help them be more open to feedback and increase their willingness to upskill or improve their existing skills-set.

Support employees to ‘take control of their own destiny’

When you think like an entrepreneur, you begin to take more control of your life and your future. People with an entrepreneurial mindset tend to be more motivated to succeed and feel inspired to give their all.

In a work context, thinking like an entrepreneur will help employees to take ownership of their roles, and strive to perform at the best of their abilities. Meanwhile, in their home environment, this capacity to take control of their own destiny will help them stay on top of the current situation and be better equipped to cope with the challenges they face.

Develop self-motivation skills in stood-down employees

By guiding your stood-down staff members to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll be supporting them in developing key skills in self-motivation and proactivity. This may result in finding ways to maintain relationships with clients or suppliers during their stand-down period or actively seeking opportunities to learn new skills that will help them in their return to work.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will encourage employees to become confident self-starters with a more disciplined approach to work. In addition, this ability to self motivate will be of great benefit amidst the turbulent COVID-19 environment, when staying motivated and positive can help people rise above the negative emotions they’ll inevitably experience.


The Horizons program from Career365 is a 4-week or 8-week online support program specifically designed for employees who have been stood-down to COVID-19. By providing structured training and guidance via webinars and online resources, Horizons helps employers keep their stood-down employees engaged, productive, motivated and connected.

If you’re an HR director or business owner who would like to find out more about supporting your stood-down employees with our structured online program, please email [email protected] 

Greg Weiss has authored two books about career transitioning and is soon to release a third. He has deep expertise in outplacement and employee onboarding, and is the Founder of Career365 (formerly CareerSupport365) – a leading Australian employee transitioning firm, specialising in outplacement and employee onboarding.

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