Emily Shandruk Solutions

Emily Shandruk Solutions Perfects the COVID-19 “Pirouette”

Story by Nancy Saunders

Emily Shandruk Solutions launched close to one year ago with a brand, a look and a website. As Shandruk explains, “I launched literally the same week the world shut down.” When asked what her business provides, Shandruk’s usual response is, ‘What do you need?’ “When I decided to go out on my own, I did the proverbial, ‘any opportunity that comes my way is a yes’. I was going to throw all of the spaghetti at the wall, and see what stuck. I wanted to see what I liked doing, and what I begrudgingly kept doing,” she explains. Shandruk’s three main focuses are consulting around employee relations, project management, and philanthropy.  

Shandruk explains that as a specialist, she brings a variety of tools and a background in mediation to her work supporting businesses with employee relations. She helps bridge the gap between employer and employee, particularly with businesses that do not have a dedicated human resources department. “Together, we look at what is the underlying driver under this conflict, and how to find a solution to work through it—a solution that involves both parties. It breaks down any hierarchy and opens up a conversation, rather than having it be the company versus the employee.” Shandruk believes that significant resources can be saved by businesses that are willing to invest in their existing human resources, including “the amount of time and energy and money that is lost by just getting rid of (an employee) and hiring someone else.” Shandruk emphasizes the benefits of understanding the value of working with an employee to figure out what the problems are, and to create a solution and move forward. “I’ve been really thankful to help the smaller businesses that need that, and for the value that they’ve found in the work that I’ve been able to do,” says Shandruk.

A great deal of Shandruk’s project management work during COVID-19 has been the planning of virtual events. “It’s helping people be able to keep doing the events that they want to do, through reimagining them in a virtual way,” she says. Shandruk shares some positive results of the ways in which conferences have had to adapt. “For some conferences, we would only be able to bring in a certain number of guest speakers because we would be paying for their travel and accommodations. Now, the expense of the massive conference room and the meals and the out-of-town speakers are not a factor. Now we can reach out to anybody, and as long as you have a good connection, you can be a part of it.” Shandruk also appreciates this shift for opening up a lot of opportunities—she has been able to personally take in a lot more learning opportunities and conferences because people are seeing the value of doing things virtually.

Another way Shandruk’s work has shifted during COVID has been to focus on supporting businesses in developing policies and by-laws. “A lot of organizations didn’t have a policy to deal with a pandemic, and what happens if an employee doesn’t feel well, or their kids are sent home from school, or their spouse has to travel and now they have to quarantine … What is the policy around everybody having to work from home and what equipment do they need, what do businesses supply … Especially in the beginning, a lot of businesses were scrambling to make the work at home happen, and the necessary rules and regulations that you need to have around that,” explains Shandruk.

Shandruk says that a Digital Main Street (DMS) quiz helped her reflect in this way and focus in on some priority areas for growing her own business. The quiz asks business owners where their organization thrives, and some areas for growth. “For mine, a growth area was having more people know who I am and how to find me. I was already trying to think of ways to fully explain what I do. A big thing that I’m doing is building content and pushing it out there. I really wanted to explain why I see value in the services that I offer, and get that out in a way that was telling a story, not just advertising.”

Shandruk credits part of the DMS training as having given her the idea to do a series of mini videos. “People don’t want to just look at an Instagram post, or read a three-page long Facebook message. They want a video and it needs to be short, concise, and catchy.” She also used the grant to upgrade her Canva account so that she can be more creative, as well as getting a Constant Contact account to track and communicate with clients in meaningful ways.

During these times of great uncertainty, Shandruk has taken an optimistic view of adapting to change—and has coined a term for this act of continual perseverance. “I don’t love the word ‘pivot’ because that means that you just turn once, so I have come up with ‘pirouette’. You keep moving, you keep turning, you keep trying to work your way to that solution,” she says. “Some of the beauty as you pirouette, is that you’re able to look at some of the positives.”

Shandruk says that now is an excellent time for businesses to reflect on the past year and determine where they excelled, where they lost money, and new ways they can approach 2021. “It’s a really great time to take a breath and do some planning. I think that people can now actually start to plan for a year to maybe three years out, and what that looks for them, and how that could mean a different type of success.”