We’re still feeling the effects of COVID-19. It spans all aspects of our lives from how we shop to how we work. We are living in a changed world and thus, we have all been changed by it. There has never been a more pressing time for HR leaders to help employees adapt and cope.
Like many organizations, AcctTwo has been slowly opening our offices in Dallas and Houston, Texas. As your organization plans to resume and adapt operations, you will need to comply with legislation and policies at the local, state and federal levels. Our friends at ADP put together a guide on how to get back to the workplace. In it they enable you to assess workplace readiness and provide advice on how to:
- Navigate regulations and stay compliant
- Redefine the future of work
- Manage and activate people in the new world of work
- Assess return-to-workplace readiness
Navigating Regulations and Staying Compliant
- Policies & Best Practices: The decision of when, whether, and how to return to and reopen workplaces requires a multidisciplinary approach and a review of workplace policies and practices. Many local authorities require organizations to provide training on how to safely return. Organizations like the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and partners like ADP can provide quick templates and guides to help you get started.
- Electronic Pay: Did you know that speed of pay may be regulated, especially when it comes to pay at time of termination? Employers who were equipped with electronic pay options and mobile access to employee payroll experienced fewer delays in paying their workers.
- Leave: Speaking of pay, if your organization fell under the FFCRA for paid leave and expanded FMLA, keeping up with the requirements and credits has become a challenge for many organizations. Partnering with a payroll provider like ADP and having a plan to communicate and track this leave is critical.
- Unemployment: Best practices for reducing hours, wages or staff for reasons related to COVID-19, provide a written statement to the employee(s) notifying them that they may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Unfortunately, unemployment fraud has been rampant in 2020. Closely monitor your claims and notify staff immediately if you feel they may be a victim of identity theft and unemployment fraud.
Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, AcctTwo operated in the cloud. With a combination of office and remote employees, we were essentially running as a virtual business. It was a seamless process for us to operate remotely. Having a partner like ADP to keep your payroll in the cloud and navigate through the pandemic, and any other changes that might happen in the future is essential.
Redefining the Future of Work
- Data Security: With businesses operating remotely and many employees working from home during the global health event, data fraudsters and scammers have been more active.
- Business Resiliency: For HR and payroll departments, the immediate focus is highly tactical and operational – maintain business continuity to ensure people get paid, have access to their health benefits, and manage their time information.
- Virtual Employees: Provide access to self-service tools to manage work-life virtually; offer electronic direct deposit enrollment and access to wage statements and W-2s.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020, contains over $2 trillion for economic stimulus.
We utilize a professional employer organization (PEO) for HR purposes across AcctTwo. Employees have been able to access PTO, pay statements, and medical/dental benefits from home. There hasn’t been a moment of downtime or interruption to how we operate. Employee Benefit News (EBN) agrees with the benefits of a PEO: “If a company joins a PEO then that company's employees have access to a full pantheon of benefits. There are two big buckets of what employers get out of a PEO, and one is really significant cost savings around benefits.”
Managing and Engaging People in the New World of Work
- Stress at Work: Promoting positive mental health in a work environment often starts with acknowledging the challenges. Beyond acknowledgement, you also need to share tools available to your staff to support their mental health (like your EAP) and encourage a healthy lifestyle by supporting flexibility and balance.
- Flexibility: More than ever people, especially parents and caretakers, are being impacted by the challenges imposed by having children or other family members they care for home more or in need of more assistance and attention. Companies who have found ways to build flexibility into a work week or focus more on quality results instead of time are gaining trust dividends that will extend beyond the pandemic.
- Communication: Right now, communication is king in the workplace. The change employees have had to face this year coupled with ambiguity in lives outside of work surrounding their family, social, other norms has left many employees feeling uncertain at work. Keeping open dialogue, even if you don’t have much to share, can reduce feelings of ambiguity and uncertainty.
- Social Interaction: One of the biggest challenges is coping with the lack of social interaction. Find creative ways to foster connection using video conferencing, messaging applications and collaboration software. Beyond giving staff tools, create opportunities for them to engage with one another as often as you can, whether it’s a five minute water cooler chat or a game you can play together online to share a laugh.
- Finding Talent: By using independent workers, you can respond to changing demands for specific skills, experience or expertise, when and where you need them. In addition, the new world of workers are going to expect more flexibility and open communication than ever before. In a world where remote work has proven to work in some industries, you may even see a rising demand for opportunities in that spectrum. Take an honest look at your business model to evaluate if you can provide more of those opportunities to stay competitive in the market.
Recently we partnered with BetterSpaces to be able to offer social interaction and stress relief yoga and meditation to our AcctTwo employees. Having the ability to take 10-minute meditation breaks or start the day with desk yoga was a fun and way to promote wellness. AcctTwo also heavily leverages our internal Culture Committee to create positive opportunities for our employee base. Our culture committee is a group made up of non-managerial staff who share and promote ideas to leadership for building and improving our culture while creating strong bonds across departments. Monthly they host games, happy hours, and drive our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. A few of weeks ago we hosted a Pictionary event – it was a lot of fun and amazing to see how taking an hour to bond and interact (virtually) felt so normal.
“One of the biggest challenges right now is loneliness, which is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to our health. Especially during the pandemic, employees need social connection. They need exercise to release endorphins. Endorphins make us happier and it counteracts the LDL that our body creates. We think about the whole employee's need for physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing, a healthy physical environment and purpose,” says Keith Angell, BetterSpaces.
Return-to-Workplace Readiness Assessment
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