The spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, is an event that is increasingly becoming a public and workplace priority. Employers will be called on to take every possible action to protect workers while maintaining business operations. Here, you can find a roundup of up-to-date information on how businesses and HR leaders are handling the outbreak.
GENERAL INFORMATION FROM GOVERNMENT BODIES
- Global information and guidance on COVID-19 (World Health Organization)
- Coronavirus response in Europe (European Commission)
- Coronavirus response in the U.S. (CDC)
- Worldwide situation update (ECDC)
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- HRO Today Research
- Workforce Management
- Employee Engagement
- Risk and Compliance
- Employee Screening
In order to better understand how companies are managing their workforce in the wake of the worldwide pandemic, HRO Today is conducting a series of pulse surveys. These surveys will address a broad range of topics, from recruiting to workforce planning and operations.
SURVEY: COVID-19 HR Response Study Part 4
In the period between May 28 and June 8, HRO Today conducted a brief study of 50 HR leaders about worker anxiety and how organizations are planning for their post-coronavirus workforce needs.
Results indicated that while the majority of workers have switched to remote work, employee engagement has remained constant for 51 percent of organizations and actually increased for 21 percent.
However, employees remain anxious about their return to the office, with 49 percent reporting anxiety and 15 percent reporting high anxiety. To respond, organizations are taking measures to ensure the safety and well-being of their workforce, including following social distancing guidelines (90 percent) and providing hand sanitizer (88 percent).
SURVEY RESULTS: COVID-19 HR Response Study Part 3
In a survey conducted by HRO Today between May 7 and May 19, 77 HR leaders weighed in on their return to work and recruitment strategies post-COVID-19.
For over one-half (51 percent) of employers participating in the study, strategy discussions about returning to work are well underway, although about one-quarter have either not started to make a strategy yet or are in preliminary discussion only.
On average, just over one-quarter (26 percent) of the workforce will be back to the office within a month, while 43 percent will be back in the office within two to three months.
In addition to working remotely, recruitment tactics will also evolve. The use of phone (37 percent) and social media (34 percent) will increase, while reliance on in-person interviews (76 percent) and job fairs (73 percent) will decrease.
SURVEY RESULTS: COVID-19 HR Response Study Part 2
In a recent HRO Today survey, 60 HR leaders gave feedback about the status of their recruitment plans post-COVID-19 and the percentage of remote workers at their organizations.
The majority are in the early stages of planning new talent strategies for the return to work post-coronavirus, while 19 percent have begun implementation.
In addition, while employing remote workers was uncommon pre-pandemic, responding companies expect a massive shift to remote work post-pandemic.
SURVEY RESULTS: COVID-19 HR Response Study Part 1
In a recent HRO Today survey, 50 HR leaders weighed in to describe the impact that COVID-19 is having on their operations and paid time off policies.
On average, organizations expected to endure the greatest impact of COVID-19 for 20 weeks, but results varied significantly across industries.
Additionally, most organizations have adopted more flexible work schedules, but refrained from adding additional paid time off.
HRO Today Educational Podcast: Recruit with “Care”
Consider Alternatives: Technologies to Maximize TA Performance
Organizations are facing many challenges right now trying to make sense of the potential impact of the global COVID-19 crisis on their business, their customers, and their operations.
We’re already amid workplace closures at a global level, and as a result, have seen a vast increase in advice on remote working and virtual team collaboration. Many companies are facing uncertainty on what this means for hiring activity in general and recruitment operations in particular.
Alexander Mann Solutions is here to help, gathering some thoughts on how to use tools, many already at your disposal, to keep talent acquisition functioning effectively.
New Survey Results: Adapting to Remote Recruiting
Today’s recruiting environment has never been more challenging. Jobvite, a leader in talent acquisition innovation, surveyed over 200 recruiters the first week of April 2020 to discover how talent teams are adapting their recruiting processes for a remote world. The recruiters were from a variety of industries, including technology, staffing and recruiting, healthcare, finance and insurance, professional services, retail and hospitality, and education.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- 84% of talent acquisition teams are adapting their processes to work remotely.
- 46% of respondents are doing more social posting to advertise jobs to recruit new talent, including on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
- 58% of respondents are using social to promote their employer brand and connect with talent.
- 80% of respondents are using video in the interview process.
- 61% of respondents are using video as part of the screening process.
- 73% of respondents are using video and online meetings to facilitate the onboarding process.
- 55% of respondents are making more phone calls than before.
- 27% of respondents are using more texting to communicate with candidates following an offer letter.
- 8% of respondents are using chatbots to facilitate initial candidate screening.
Joveo Provides Free Programmatic Job Advertising Services
Joveo, the global leader in programmatic recruitment advertising technology, announced that it will waive 100% of its job advertising platform fees for organizations that urgently need to recruit essential workers to deal with the global COVID-19 crisis until the situation is deemed under control.
Joveo’s programmatic recruitment advertising platform can help with quickly hiring high-quality and relevant talent at scale. The company will also provide free expert assistance and support to organizations that are looking to rapidly hire staff to either slow and treat the pandemic or help with delivering essential goods and services to citizens under lockdown.Furthermore, Joveo will offer its platform for free to businesses that are severely impacted by the crisis, operationally and financially. These include small and mid-sized companies in the travel, hospitality, and entertainment sectors.
The global programmatic job advertising leader will also deliver additional candidate traffic to job postings and, therefore, more applications to organizations that qualify for the waiver, at no cost to talent acquisition teams.
If your organization is hiring essential workers to deal with the global COVID-19 crisis, or is severely impacted financially due to the resulting decrease in customer demand, apply for the job advertising platform fee waiver here.
Evaluating the Role of Recruiters
Amidst the uncertainty of what lies ahead for the job landscape as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to remember that our workforce will recover, and when it does, recruiters need to make sure they have kept their candidate relationships intact.
While many working individuals are in crisis-management mode, recruiters can be their lifeline at the very least to keep them informed of the opportunities that lie ahead. Here are some best practices from BrightMove for keeping touch with candidates and planning for future business.
- Candidates in the hiring process still need reassurance and a timeline.
- Brainstorm with hiring managers on alternative work options for new hires.
- Create a daily blast of available opportunities – use text, social media, email, and podcasts to keep your network informed of what’s out there.
- Help candidates evaluate opportunities they would not have applied for.
- Remember the human side of recruiting.
From Interviewing to Onboarding: Five Tips for Contingent Hiring in a Remote World
The shift to remote work and social distancing presents unique challenges to the everyday tasks of identifying and hiring qualified talent. How can organizations hire and onboard qualified talent remotely to support their ongoing business leads? Lee Baldwin, global head of financial services at Pontoon, shares some best practices.
- Focus on the candidate experience. In a virtual world, the candidate experience is more important than ever. To ensure a positive outcome, HR leaders should leverage digital hiring tools to engage candidates, clearly communicate the employee value proposition, and come prepared to interviews.
- Define your remote onboarding process. Organizations should embrace a fully digital onboarding process while maintaining compliance oversight.
- Provide logistical support for new contingent workers. For any employee in a new role, questions will inevitably arise. HR leaders should create comprehensive documentation to guide the new process hire from start to finish, mapping out the hiring journey to answer questions before they’re asked.
- Design a virtual training plan. Training and team interaction within the first one to two weeks post-hire are critical to a new hire’s success. Managers should create a detailed training schedule for their new employees and measuring the outcomes to identify any skill gaps early.
- Manage employees remotely. Business leaders should schedule regular video meetings to speak with their new hires during the training period. They should also create a feedback loop so that hires feel comfortable in their new position.
Podcast: COVID-19 Impact on Recruiters
View this live panel hosted by Dave Webb, CEO of BrightMove, about the impact of the coronavirus on recruitment practices.
Shifting to Remote Work
Under tight pressure to manage costs, CFOs are realizing the cost benefits of a remote workforce, with many embracing remote work to avoid budget cuts and minimize the potential disruption to operations.
A Gartner Inc. survey of 317 chief finance officers revealed that 74 percent will move at least 5 percent of their previously on-site workers to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19, marking a dramatic shift in the way business is run. In addition, a quarter of respondents will move at least 20 percent of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.
In turn, leaders are taking additional steps to support their remote workforce by adjusting to more flexible work schedules and providing company-issued work from home equipment.
This shift is resulting in significant cost savings:
- Twenty percent of respondents have reduced their on-premise technology spend, with an additional 12 percent planning to do so.
- Thirteen percent of respondents have reduced real estate expenses, with another 9 percent planning to do so.
Embracing the New Remote Reality
In this pandemic-induced remote work environment, the line between life and work is blurrier than ever. And so far, it seems to be working well—a recent survey from PwC indicates that employees would like to have the option to work from home more frequently, even after the threat of COVID-19 is over.
- Most office workers (83 percent) want to work from home at least one day a week, and 32 percent say they’d prefer to never go into the office.
- Seventy-three percent of executives say the shift to remote work has been a success.
- Half of executives (55 percent) expect to extend options for most of their office workers to work from home at least one day a week post-COVID, up from the 39 percent before the pandemic.
However, the office is not obsolete just yet: The number one reason employees say they go into the office is to collaborate with other team members (50 percent). Difficulty collaborating is also the number one reason people give for being unproductive as they sheltered in place (39 percent), second only to balancing work with home duties such as childcare (38 percent).
To improve productivity in the age of remote work, employers need to help their workforce set proper work-life boundaries. Many employees are hoarding PTO because they’re fearful of losing their job or too busy to step away from a few days, but encouraging people to take vacation can greatly prevent burnout.
Here are some ways HR leaders can help their employees maintain some balance:
- Check in with employees and use surveys to track whether they’re taking time off and how they’re feeling.
- Promote flexibility by compressing work schedules, offering “Summer Fridays,” giving all employees the same day off, or rolling over PTO.
- Get creative with workplace collaboration tools to avoid video chat fatigue.
- Lead by example and proactively take time off to allow employees to feel comfortable doing the same.
Creating Safer Workspaces
As government restrictions are lifted and companies move into the “green phase” of opening, business leaders will need to reconsider how their offices run to account for safety regulations and reduced occupancy requirements. Moving services provider Suddath Van Lines Inc. has released a free resource to help organizations manage the transition, with expert guidance, interactive checklists, and visual representations of reconfigured spaces.
Here are some simple, short-term tips to create safer workplaces in the age of the coronavirus:
- Remove seats and tables to meet social distancing guidelines.
- Mark exits and entrances as one way to create traffic flow in halls and aisles.
- Add signage, floor markers, instructions, mobile cleaning stations, and PPE pickup stations.
- Provide dividers, screens, partitions, and panels for protection.
- Create “you” spaces for employees to work individually.
Managers will need to reduce the density of their offices to maintain social distancing. One option is leaving desks between employees unoccupied and removing chairs or adding signage to prevent employees from using them. Another is putting physical barriers, such as Plexiglas structures or rolling visual boards, around individual workspaces. Relocating workstations into conference rooms or unused areas of the office is another approach to prevent overcrowding and maintain six feet of distance between employees.
Organizations will need to assess these strategies to determine if they have the technology infrastructure to support dispersed employee workstations, and then collaborate with their IT team to get employees back online.
The Benefits of Video
In the past few months, public consumption of online video content has changed dramatically as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. Online video use has become much more prevalent for both personal and business use, with Limelight Networks’ How Video Is Changing the World report finding that consumers now watch or use online video four times than they did six months ago.
The switch to video content has had a massive impact on the world of work in a time when over a third (33 percent) of Americans say their employers have offered the ability to work from home for the first time. While many leaders initially feared that remote work would limit productivity, research shows that video minimizes these concerns:
- Video capabilities allow 72 percent of Americans to maintain at least half of their daily work activities.
- Twenty-nine percent of Americans say that video helps them work more efficiently, stay focused, and be productive.
- Over a quarter (27 percent) of Americans say that video helps them reduce the feeling of isolation and stay connected with their colleagues.
- Twenty-two percent say video eases collaboration and creativity.
However, despite all these benefits, U.S. employees have been slower to adopt video tools compared to the rest of the world:
- Thirty-seven percent say they never use video conferencing, compared to 31 percent of global respondents.
- Only 12 percent of Americans use video conferencing three or more times per day, compared to 21 percent of global respondents.
But many are starting to see the potential, especially for training and professional development opportunities:
- The vast majority (85 percent) of Americans believe more people will take video-based online training classes following the pandemic.
- Over half (58 percent) of Americans think video-based courses that teach new skills would be helpful in their own professional development or job searching efforts.
Many believe that live-streaming job fairs (17 percent) and virtual networking events (16 percent) will also enhance the job search process.
Training Course: Returning to the Workplace
Traliant, an innovator in online sexual harassment training, developed a new training course, COVID-19: Returning to the Workplace, designed for employees who have been working from home or have been on leave to complete before their first day back. The interactive course helps prepare employees physically and psychologically to navigate an evolving work environment, and will be regularly updated with new information and guidelines.
The course focuses on:
- Raising awareness of the behaviors necessary to keep the workplace safe.
- Explaining new or changed protocols and policies to minimize and eliminate confusion.
- Reassuring returning staff that the organization is taking steps to protect them.
- Preparing employees to be flexible in an evolving environment.
New Virtual Summit from ADP: Looking Beyond the Curve
ADP, a leading global technology company providing human capital management (HCM) solutions, will host a complimentary virtual summit on May 29, 2020 from 11am to 5pm ET to provide critical insights, best practices and actionable guidance to help employers navigate a safe and effective return to work. The event, “Looking Beyond the Curve: Recovery and Engagement in the New World of Work,” will feature ADP experts leveraging unique research and data on topics including business continuity, evolving legislation, navigating compliance, and activating a workforce in flux.
Returning to Work
As states begin to relax stay at home mandates, U.S. employers have begun strategizing about what return to work might look like for their workforce and how to protect employees and mitigate risk of infection. One thing employers could not have done in the past is ask employees about their medical conditions or administer medical testing. But, in the time of this COVID-19 pandemic, the rules have changed.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has indicated that employers can consider employees coming to the workplace to be a “direct threat” to safety. This creates relaxed standards and allows employers to ask employees questions like: “do you have symptoms of COVID -19?”; “have you been tested for COVID-19?”; and, even, “do you have or have you had COVID-19?”. The ability to obtain medical information extends to the administration of medical examinations at the workplace, including temperature checks. The EEOC has also indicated that employees who refuse to answer such questions, or refuse testing, can be excluded from the workplace.
For more information on return-to-work, Mercer’s Dave Zieg, Partner and Clinical Services Leader, authored a blog post on the short and long-term measures employers are taking to ensure their employees return back to work safely. According to Mercer’s COVID-19 pulse survey, employers are planning to take active measures – 54% of respondents said they will conduct staggered returns – and 43% said they will continue virtual work where possible.
COVID-19 and the American Worker
A new KPMG survey of 1,000 workers in the U.S. conducted this April found that:
- 64% of workers in the U.S. say their quality of work has improved amid the disruptive impact of COVID-19
- 70% also reported better collaboration
- 82% said that their team has effectively adapted to working together during this time
- 59% indicated that they had adequate resources to do their job remotely
- 87% reported that their team is effectively using technology to communicate
- 63% are concerned about reduced pay
- 57% are concerned about job loss
- 44% expressed concern about technology replacing their job
New Survey Results: Adapting Workforce Strategies
A new pulse survey from Aon PLC shows how companies in North America are changing their total rewards programs and workforce strategies in response to the deepening humanitarian and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cost Management Measures
- The prevalence of companies delaying or cancelling salary increases for employees grew from 14 percent in March to 32 percent in April.
- Seven percent of companies are asking employees to take reduced salaries on a voluntary basis, with involuntary pay reductions climbing to 10 percent.
- Roughly 40 percent of firms cutting pay are doing so across their entire workforce.
- Benefits programs remain relatively untouched, with only 5 percent of companies suspending employer matches, profit sharing, or other non-elective employer contributions for defined contribution retirement plans, and only 2 percent reducing paid leave benefits.
- Eight percent of surveyed firms report layoffs, while another 18 percent are actively considering such actions. Similarly, 13 percent of surveyed firms have furloughed employees and 19 percent are actively considering such actions.
While finances may be tight, companies are moving swiftly to supplement support programs and leave benefits for employees.
- Seventy percent of companies are providing additional scheduling flexibility to employees with children.
- Over half (57 percent) of companies are providing as-needed payments or equipment purchases to assist employees with work-from-home arrangements.
- Forty-two percent of companies are providing temporary increases in sick leave entitlements.
- More than a third (38 percent) of companies are allowing employees to use sick leave for COVID-19 related quarantines.
- Twenty-six percent of companies are allowing employees to use sick leave to care for children when they are off from school.
- Eighteen percent of firms now have additional compensation programs in place for front-line, essential workers, with another 15 percent actively considering such actions.
The State of Hiring
- Twenty-three percent of companies report the implementation of hiring freezes, followed by 10 percent of firms with delayed hiring approaches.
- Another 47 percent report very selective or cautious hiring, usually for critical roles and key replacements only.
- Only 18 percent of companies report normal hiring plans, followed by 3 percent of firms with accelerated hiring.
- Among companies with normal or accelerated hiring, 77 percent provide essential products and services.
Short-Term Actions for Long-Term Success
COVID-19 is taking a toll on all businesses. While the short-term effects of the current pandemic vary depending on industry, the long-term effects of an economic downturn depend on companies’ current response. Taking strong action now can position companies for recovery in the next 12 to 18 months.
With increased emphasis on social and corporate responsibility, employers that lead with economics and empathy will be rewarded with loyalty—from employees, candidates, and existing and future customers. According to Edith Clee, partner at Mercer, employers should consider the following actions before reducing compensation and benefit costs.
- Preserve flexibility by conserving cash and delaying increases and grants. Short delays in rewards like merit pay, LTI awards, and discretionary 401k contributions can be a safety measure until broader effects are known and desired interventions are better understood.
- Preserve jobs by identifying ways to redeploy employees within and outside of the company.Keeping people working will require adaptation and creativity. Internal and external “labor loans” give employees an opportunity to learn and develop in new roles while preventing reductions in force.
- Identify and evaluate potential compensation and benefit actions to take later to improve cash flow. Now is the time to inventory current programs, assess costs and competitive positioning, determine employees that may be affected, and model costs and impact of program changes.
- Strengthen safety nets and protect people. Should layoffs or other disruptive actions be required, consider whether policies and programs like severance pay, health benefits, and workforce transition services are socially responsible and meet employees’ needs.
New E-Book: Protecting Health & Maintaining Productivity During the COVID-19 Crisis
No one could have anticipated the extent to which COVID-19 would profoundly change life as we know it—literally overnight. As the number of deaths and infections climbs, the world wakes up every day to realities that were previously unimaginable.
There’s no playbook for handling this crisis, but there is a growing amount of useful information from a variety of sources, with the CDC emerging as one of the most reliable outlets. While health- care professionals and government officials are on the front line of our pandemic response, employers everywhere have quickly moved to implement work from home (WFH) policies, cancel events, restrict travel and implement measures to ensure employee and public safety.
Organizational leaders who have stepped up to the task of creating and implementing COVID-19 policies and procedures will not likely discover any new ideas in this report from Engage2Excel. Nevertheless, it is intended as a checklist of topics that organizations should consider when developing and updating plans to protect the health of their employees and maintain productivity during the uncertain times ahead.
6 Tips for COVID-19 Communication Campaigns
In the face of the current crisis, employees rely on communication campaigns from their employers to deliver critical updates, prevention tips, and more. Here, the experts at Welltok share some best practices to deliver the most effective communication possible.
- TOPICS: Create campaigns dedicated to 1) prevention, 2) risk management and mitigation, 3) emergency preparedness, and 4) managing utilization. While COVID-19 specific news may be priority, also communicate with individuals about managing chronic conditions, adhering to medications, and supporting total wellbeing to keep people healthy and out of clinics.
- OUTREACH: Leverage multiple channels to rapidly deploy important information and updates. For example, interactive voice response (IVR) and SMS text messaging are a scalable ways to share updates and engage with your community.
- CONTENT: Use authentic, localized and language-specific voice talent for IVR campaigns as computerized recordings will feel generic and disconnected. Tailor communications for high-risk groups to increase relevancy and engagement.
- DATA: Leverage both clinical and social determinants of health data (e.g., demographic, income level, household composition) to identify and target high-risk individuals and those with critical needs.
- RESOURCES: Provide germ-free “handshake” links (aka proactive recommendations) when possible to connect people with available resources like hotlines and EAP programs – mental health is especially important with high stress levels and social distancing.
- PRIVACY & SECURITY: Any partner you work with must be HIPAA compliant and HITRUST certified to ensure that all messaging meets applicable standards for data security, privacy and legal compliance.
New Research Reveals Risks of Open Offices
A new survey from Bospar found that more than half of Americans (55.3 percent) are worried about contracting the coronavirus this year, and 49.4 percent are planning to cancel trips due to the spread of the virus.
Just as concerning are results that indicate the number one reason Americans fear contracting COVID-19 is working in an open office. In fact, 52.9 percent of survey respondents think open offices will lead to an uptick of the coronavirus infection and 41 percent think their office will be affected.
“Open office spaces are among the worst for COVID-19, particularly if they are sealed office spaces without open ventilation and the air is just recirculated within the building,” said E Hanh Le, senior director of medical affairs at Healthline. “That’s because, like with other communicable airborne illnesses, COVID-19 is spread from coughing, sneezing, or talking as the virus travels through respiratory drops. Current data suggests that the virus may also survive on surfaces for several hours, if not days, but we do not know that definitively yet. To reduce the risk of spreading infection, concerned companies should enforce work from home policies to keep contagion down.”
More than a third of Americans (35.9 percent) think companies should immediately make their employees work from home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, and 51.4 percent think that viruses like COVID-19 and the flu will lead to more companies adopting virtual offices.
Free Micro-Course: Leading Virtual Meetings
The coronavirus outbreak is causing many businesses to adjust their routines to ensure their employees’ safety. One of these adjustments may include working remotely—but according to DDI, this can introduce a slew of concerns. While 70 percent of employees work remotely at least one day a week, 21 percent feel lonely, 21 percent struggle to communicate and collaborate, and 16 percent get easily distracted at home.
To help business leaders meet their business goals during this difficult time, DDI has partnered with Dr. Steven Rogelberg, the world’s leading expert on holding effective meetings and author of “The Surprising Science of Meetings,” to develop a free micro-course on leading virtual meetings. It aims to help anyone in the organization address the challenges of working remotely, including how to manage distractions, maintain audience interest, and evaluate the efficacy of meetings.
Study Reveals How Organizations are Tackling the Virus
With headlines repeating the warnings about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, organizations are taking steps to protect their business and employees, both locally and abroad. According to a new survey from Mercer evaluating the business response to the outbreak, companies are generally taking a wait and see approach before implementing any dramatic policies.
- Thirty-three percent are monitoring the situation to determine the need to work remotely.
- The majority (58 percent) are closing their offices and plants in China—most with a specific date in mind (February 10, 2020).
- Seventy-two percent are curtailing or postponing non-essential travel to countries with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
- Almost all companies (91 percent) have recalled travelers from China and 38 percent plan to ban travel to China.
- Fifty-eight percent are introducing options to work from home.
- Self-quarantine is becoming a common request, with 58 percent requesting self-quarantine from staff that has traveled to mainland China and 43 percent instituting mandatory self-quarantine.
- Companies are providing hand sanitizer (68 percent) and masks (48 percent) in the workplace.
- The vast majority (96 percent) are not ending expatriate assignments, but are managing the situation regarding the evacuation of expatriates (48 percent).
Taking Common Sense Precautions
As the coronavirus continues to cause panic in the media, Karen Elliott and Clare Gallagher, two labor and employment attorneys with the law firm of Eckert Seamans, share 10 basic precautions that organizations can take to limit the spread of the virus.
- Until COVID-19 is declared a pandemic, engage employees with virus-like symptoms on a case-by-case basis, being careful when asking about their specific health issues. After a declaration of imminent threat, employers can be more direct.
- Limit or eliminate non-essential business travel to countries or areas with high incidence rates of COVID-19. Check travel advisories daily to monitor updates.
- Create or update policies regarding working remotely, mandatory closures, and leaves and absences.
- Use an email or text messaging service to share updates with staff.
- Permit employees to work from home for up to two weeks if they exhibit symptoms.
- Post signs and resources about virus prevention practices and places to seek treatment.
- Educate staff on the nature of COVID-19 to avoid potential stigmatization, misunderstanding, or overreactions.
- Post signs about proper hygiene practices in common areas and provide hand sanitizer, tissues, masks, and no-touch receptacles.
- Sanitize the workplace regularly.
- Limit the number of non-essential visitors in the office.
Supporting Employees in a Post-COVID World
Companies are facing a host of new challenges following the global pandemic and civil unrest of 2020. And now, they must guide the transition back to the office in a moment when employees still have to deal with significant uncertainty and stress. The world of work will inevitably change, and HR leaders will need to act with empathy, emotional intelligence, and strong communication to ensure that their people feel supported and safe in this time of uncertainty.
Aptitude Research has launched a new study to look at how employers are supporting their workforce during this time and how employees are responding. The results found some gaps in the experience between employer and employee:
- Eighty-five percent of employees say they are working more during this pandemic, while nearly 50 percent of employers say that employees are working less.
- Only 32 percent of employees are getting more flexibility during this time, even though 55 percent of employers state that they offer more flexibility.
- Sixty-two percent of companies state that they are investing in employee well-being, yet 64 percent of workers do not feel valued by their employer.
However, both employers and employees agree on one thing: stress is on the rise. Seventy-one percent of employees state that they are more stressed during this year, and 95 percent of employers agree.
Here are some factors employers should consider to manage their employees’ stress during this tense moment:
- Employee safety. Nearly 40 percent of employees do not feel safe returning to the office, yet 49 percent of employers say that employee safety is their top priority. While most companies are frequently communicating about safety, only 58 percent are offering PPE and 21 percent have redesigned their office spaces.
- Childcare and homeschooling. With schools at risk of remaining closed in the autumn, employers need to think about how their employees will manage childcare—and how that affects the employee experience. Currently, one in three companies do not feel comfortable talking about childcare, and only 11 percent reach out to employees to offer support.
- Communication. Companies need to rethink their communication strategies; 73 percent of surveyed employees said that the only communication they are receiving is email, and 60 percent said they would prefer other forms of communication.
- Recognition. Although employees are undergoing significant stress and risk, the majority (61 percent) do not feel recognized and 78 percent do not feel recognized by leadership. In fact, one in two employees have not received recognition since the pandemic started.
HR as the White Swan Podcast Series: Voice of the Employee
Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are faced with a number of new challenges related to the management of their workforce in these unprecedented times. But while businesses face this black swan event, HR is the white swan prepared to counterbalance that negativity.
We are excited to announce the debut of Season 2 of the White Swan Podcast Series, featuring Judd Weisgal, senior vice president of Madison and hosted by our own Elliot Clark, CEO of HRO Today. In this 9-part series, we again will address a topic corresponding to each letter in “W-H-I-T-E-S-W-A-N” that is directly related to the workplace as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Our second season focuses on the “voice of the employee.”
Watch Season 2 here:
New episodes are released every Thursday.
Click here to view Season 1, covering topics from recognition to effective communication strategies.
Managing Employee Caregivers’ Stress In Times of Crisis
Caregiving can be challenging in the best of times, but this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic exponentially elevates the stress, uncertainty, and logistical challenges people are navigating.
Older adults (especially those with pre-existing conditions) face greater risks and their caregivers are responsible for more, such as picking up groceries and medications, to keep their elderly loved ones safely sequestered at home or in a nursing home/care facility. Schools are closed and children with special needs are already lacking needed services. Working parents are suddenly homeschooling their kids and scrambling to figure out childcare solutions.
People’s jobs are greatly impacted as many businesses temporarily close, causing increased family stressors. To manage the impact and keep employees engaged, caregiving expert and solution provider Torchlight has created its Caregiving in Times of Crisis downloadable kit. The kit includes crucial, time-sensitive guides and tools, such as:
- Coronavirus: What Caregivers Need to Know
- Coronavirus: What Parents Need to Know
- Coronavirus: When Nursing Home Visits Are Not Possible
- Coronavirus and School Closures
- Managing Your and Your Children’s Anxiety During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Managing Caregiving Anxiety During the Coronavirus Pandemic
How to Celebrate Employees From a Distance
Recognition is a critical element of the employee experience, but with such a large portion of the workforce working remotely, showing appreciation can be challenging. To keep employees engaged from a distance, Rideau Recognition suggests 10 best practices.
- Talk with staff to get a behind the scenes look for deeper appreciation.
- Acknowledge the risk taken as well as the work.
- Thank people for self-isolating themselves.
- Express gratitude to those accepting to work from home.
- Celebrate work anniversaries no matter where employees are.
- Make career milestone anniversaries extra special.
- Sing happy birthday greetings virtually to employees.
- Create e-cards to celebrate specific actions.
- From grocery store clerks to doctors, stop and thank everyone for all they are doing to get through this crisis.
- Learn to be double specific with recognition, clearly identifying the recognized action as well as the impact it has had on others.
Free Social Connection Software from Workhuman
To help mitigate isolation during the COVID-19 disruption, Workhuman, a leading provider of social recognition platforms, announced it is offering Life Events® and Conversations® software products, part of Workhuman® Cloud, free for 12 months.
The pandemic has forced physical isolation for employees around the world. The Workhuman®Cloud provides companies with a tool that empowers and encourages social and emotional connections during a time of crisis when people need it most.
- Life Events – Strengthen team bonds, especially in today’s dispersed working environment, to celebrate life-affirming events, such as weddings, new babies, human acts of kindness and much needed well-wishes. Recognize and celebrate that life continues during times of crisis. Enlist the crowd through social support to boost organizational morale and belonging.
- Conversations – Facilitate remote connections through scheduled check-ins with managers and peers to ensure that teams connect often to navigate the uncertainty. Stay aligned on fluid priorities and short-term goals.
Employees who have a simple regular check in with their manager (on any topic) are more than twice as likelyto trust and respect their manager and five times less likely to be disengaged, according to Workhuman’s research “The Future of Work is Human”.
Free Employee Engagement Software Offer
Butterfly.ai, creators of an employee engagement software built for the frontline workforand feeling ce, announced on March 25, 2020 that it is offering free access for its industry-leading pulse survey tools in order to help companies keep frontline employees connected, informed, and engaged amidst workflow and environment changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Butterfly software can be put in place in less than 24 hours, enabling managers to see results immediately and providing organization-wide reports that help assess bigger trends across the workforce. The free license lasts for 90 days, allowing managers to send pulse surveys to their desk-less employees to measure things like employees’ preparedness to do their jobs effectively, employee recognition, and employee happiness.
Surveys can be completed quickly and anonymously via text, email, Kronos Workforce Dimension, and many other systems. Responses are collected instantly and are accessible for managers through a dashboard.
To start using Butterfly for free, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schneider Electric SVP of HR Shares Her Return-to-Office Best Practices
HRO Today’s Elliot Clark Comments on the Role of HR in Combating COVID-19
By Elliot H. Clark
I hope that all of you reading this are safe and healthy, as are your loved ones. In the past two months, initial fears of the potential impact of COVID-19 have made way for the stunning realization of how a health crisis can wreak havoc on our culture, our workforces, and our economy. We went from concerns about how severe COVID-19 would be to a precipitous plunge into a new global reality.
To adapt to the crisis, HR first had to enable the workforce to work remotely while maintaining culture and connectedness, and then ultimately—for many companies—assist in significant layoffs, furloughs, or staff reductions. Through it all, HR has been a key part of the process.
HRO Today has been working to develop resources to help HR leaders better respond to the crisis:
- Join us for the April 30th virtual event, Culture and Connectivity During the Coronavirus Crisis.
- View our nine-part podcast series, aptly named “HR as the White Swan,” on how to impact culture and connectivity by using rewards and recognition
Ally Financial CHRO Kathie Patterson Discusses COVID-19 Response
Madison Shares Key Characteristics of Organizations That Will Thrive After the COVID-19 Crisis
The old adage “you can never be too prepared” is a mantra that most organizations will agree sets the tone for business operations for the foreseeable future. While organizations have in-depth, tested procedures in place to account for disaster-preparedness and crisis-management, when they are put into action in real-time, even the most prepared will feel a twinge of uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented experience for most working-age individuals in the US and across the globe. We have endured natural disasters, financial recessions, widespread illnesses and social unrest through terroristic actions. However, the unknown of the COVID-19 and the swiftness in which it blanketed the globe in crisis is not something we have experienced in modern times.
Yet we prevail. We are not collapsing. We are banding together. Even when what we read and hear may suggest otherwise with countries, states and governments at odds, we have seen neighbors supporting one another, workers in essential roles giving their efforts selflessly and great places to work doing the right thing.
Webinar: Mitigating the Organizational Impact of the Epidemic
Register for this webinar to hear from a panel of R3 Continuum‘s industry experts as they discuss ways organizations can mitigate the financial, human, and operational impact in the wake of an epidemic crisis.
The panel will walk you through a potential real life example of what can occur to an organization following an epidemic crisis, and share best practices that can be used to ensure you are providing the right level of protection, support, and resources to your organization
Leadership Tips: Managing Fear While Encouraging Hope
In a time of incredible uncertainty, fear and even panic are unavoidable—but business leaders can play a critical role in mitigating this fear and helping employees feel safe and confident. Most business continuity preparedness plans focus solely on logistical, operational, and medical issues, neglecting the emotional impact of a crisis. This is a gap that business leaders must fill to ensure the continued operation of their company and their people.
Here are some leadership tips from R3 Continuum that have proven effective to manage fear and encourage hope and resilience in past public health challenges:
- Task 1: Maximize employee trust and effectively communicate risk and health information.
- Task 2: Maximize adaptive behavior change.
- Task 3: Reduce negative social and emotional impact and improve healthy coping.
- Task 4: Support key personnel in critical functions.
Best Leadership Practices in an Outbreak
The outbreak of the coronavirus has already cost businesses billions of dollars of lost revenue, and experts estimate that this is only set to continue. In this time of panic and uncertainty, corporate leaders must step up to secure supplies, keep fearful employees motivated to work, and keep their business plans on course.
According to Korn Ferry’s professionals, leaders can help their organizations navigate the outbreak by adopting six best practices.
1. Lead with agility and humility. Senior executives must lead from the front, exhibiting the values and behaviors they expect from their team. They have to be agile in a crisis, willing to rely on the opinions and decisions of other experts and alter their leadership style depending on the needs of the workforce. For example, a participative style of leadership where decisions are made through consensus is best in the early stages of the outbreak, but a more directive approach may be in order once the virus has run its course.
2. Prioritize explicit and transparent communication. Leaders have to communicate clearly and quickly to be in the front of potential issues and counter misinformation. Communications should be targeted to each stakeholder constituency based on their unique set of concerns—whether it is employees, partners, vendors, or investors.
3. Keep the business running securely. Right now, the focus of executive teams should be to keep their employees feeling safe and secure so that operations can continue without pause. Leaders should also find supplementary suppliers to fill in the supply holes created by the shutdown of Chinese companies.
4. Manage remote workers effectively. With schools and factories closing in countries across the world, business leaders will need to invest in capabilities that allow their workers to work remotely and stay productive. In addition to engagement issues, this could bring up another dilemma: keeping company property and networks secure.
5. Focus on engagement. Leaders already struggle to keep employees engaged, but gathering employee feedback through pulse surveys can help. There are three keys to effective surveys: listen to employees, act on the feedback, and communicate what has been done as a result.
6. Embrace a shared sense of purpose. It can be easy to abandon company values when profits are on the line, but organizations should work to leverage a short-term tragedy that hurts their organizations into a sense of purpose and community that strengthens culture in the long term.
Majority of Leaders Feel Prepared for Outbreak Response
According to a recent Paychex study of 300 business leaders, 66 percent of U.S. business owners say they are prepared should the coronavirus become widespread. Additionally, the research shows that 59 percent of business owners have a business continuity plan in place to address potential business disruptions.
To date, the business impact of the coronavirus has been limited, with 51 percent of respondents saying it has had no impact. Those who have felt effects cite concern among employees as the top impact (25 percent), followed by business travel delays (16 percent), and supply chain disruptions (13 percent).
Businesses are generally prepared to contend with any business effects, with 83 percent reporting that they would continue operations or and 84 percent ready to withstand a temporary supply chain delay with no repercussions. Seventy-five percent say they have enough cash or credit to survive any interruptions in operations.
Conducting Coronavirus Testing in the Workplace
The EEOC provides a much-needed life vest for employers.
By Alex Leiva, Associate, Greenspoon Marder’s Litigation practice
News outlets, social media platforms, and firsthand experiences showcase the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) pandemic across a broad spectrum of the American (and global) economy without regard to industry, socioeconomic status, or other indicators traditionally associated with the modern economic system. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors for prolonged periods of time and others have had no choice but to proactively and reactively furlough, lay off, or terminate large portions of their workforces simply to stay afloat in the wake of significant decreases to business revenue. For those businesses fortunate enough to maintain operations over the last two months, and for those planning to re-open following the relaxation of state and local “shutdown,” “stay at home,” or “quarantine” orders, many questions remain. However, a singular question seems to dominate the minds of every business—how can they operate a safe workplace and successfully avoid a “liability trap” in the face of many laws made relevant by the pandemic (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other equal employment opportunity laws)?
Webinar: Navigating the Complicated World of Absence Management and Leave Laws
With so many federal, state and local leave and accommodation laws, employers are struggling to manage them all. Join Fasion Group along with Marjory Robertson, AVP and Senior Counsel at Sun Life Financial, to learn about the major risks and liabilities employers can face as a result of recent EEOC rulings related to ADA. Marjory will also present some common scenarios, which highlight the pitfalls of ineﬀectively administering FMLA and ADA leaves.
The webinar will stream on April 9, 2020 at 2pm EST. Attendees have the opportunity to receive both SHRM and HRCI credit at the completion of the webinar.
10 Strategies to Manage Corporate Risk During Coronavirus
What do U.S. companies need to know in order to minimize the immediate and long-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak on their bottom line? Federal Attorney Nick Oberheiden shares 10 strategies for a proactive response.
- Monitor the most current and accurate information to avoid overestimating or underestimating the risk.
- Look beyond the company and assess the risks associated with contracted suppliers, both within and outside of the U.S.
- Do not neglect to consider the risks associated with second tier and third tier indirect suppliers.
- Maintain internal and external transparency if the company encounters an issue linked to COVID-19.
- Evaluate and execute pre-established risk avoidance and disaster management protocols.
- Do not lose sight of ongoing statutory and regulatory compliance obligations. Continue to maintain compliance at the local, state, and federal levels.
- Make decisions with the necessary breadth of perspective, taking all relevant factors into account.
- Be prepared to adapt the response plan in the event that circumstances change.
- Respond immediately in the event of an actual or potential crisis.
- Maintain a long-term, growth-oriented perspective so that the company is prepared to resume regular operations at the end of the outbreak.
“While the risk to human life is obviously the greatest concern linked to any type of outbreak, companies need to think in practical terms, and this means consciously assessing the risks of the novel coronavirus for their bottom lines,” Oberheiden says. “Stock prices are tumbling across the board, and while the market will eventually recover, some companies will undoubtedly fare better than others.”
Combating Labor Lawsuits
As the coronavirus continues to prompt quarantines and disrupt the global supply chain, companies are facing another looming threat: virus-related labor lawsuits.
“For employers, a potential pandemic raises significant employee safety and health issues and the possibility of employer liability, and we haven’t seen a new illness that is this contagious in a very long time” says Sloane Ackerman, labor and employment litigator in the New York office of international law firm O’Melveny & Myers.
She recommends several practices to combat the threat.
- Take reasonable steps to protect employees by informing them on compliance with occupational safety and health requirements.
- Consider limiting larger meetings and encouraging employees to telecommute. Alternative schedules are another option that could prevent employees from taking public transportation during rush hour.
- Limit non-essential business trips and overseas travel to coronavirus hot zones. Companies should also require employees to report personal travel to certain CDC-identified countries (China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea) to a designated company official.
- Require employees who may have been exposed to the virus to stay home for the 14-day incubation period. Maintain flexible policies so that employees are not forced to stay home without pay or use valuable vacation and sick time. If they fail to take these measures, organizations run the risk of employees hiding pertinent information from their employer or failing to quarantine themselves.
Prepare for the worst and update contingency plans.
Webinar: Return to Work COVID-19 Testing Options
How can you keep your workplace safe once the government has given clearance for companies to resume normal operations? Tune in on Thursday, May 7 at 2pm ET for best practices from HireRight‘s Dr. Todd Simo, Chief Medical Officer, and Alonzo Martinez, Associate Counsel of Compliance. Topics will include:
- Post-employment background investigation considerations
- Post-employment drug and health testing considerations
- Employers right to test for COVID-19
- Overview of various COVID-19 testing options – pros and cons
- Review of products/programs available to screen for COVID-19 for facility access
Checkster Offers Free Reference Checking for Coronavirus Front Lines
As the number of coronavirus-related job listings surge, Checkster is making it easier for government, health care and nonprofit employers to battle the pandemic by opening up all of its services free of charge to any organization hiring to help combat the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Organizations eligible for free reference checking services include:
- Healthcare organizations needing to ramp up hiring
- Biotech and testing organizations
- Retailers opening up their parking lots and staffing to accommodate the drive-thru testing units
- Government agencies working on setting up screening and testing zones
- Nonprofits helping out those in need
- Research organizations
Checkster’s checking and onboarding tools will be offered at no charge throughout the pandemic with no cap on the amount of free tools available.
To benefit from this program, please email email@example.com.
Whitepaper: Adjusting Talent Mobility for the World Ahead
What is the new normal for mobility and how can your organization prepare for it? This whitepaper from Graebel explores those questions and offers strategies for adjusting to the obstacles ahead.
Podcast: The Coronavirus and Your Mobile Workforce
The Coronavirus is challenging HR and corporate relocation managers in unprecedented ways. In this webinar, Weichert‘s subject matter experts discuss the virus’ impact on mobility, offer timely advice for keeping employees out of harm’s way, and provide insight to how other companies worldwide are tackling this problem.
Latest Updates on Coronavirus and the Mobile Workforce
The novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 is a global issue, and its impact on talent mobility evolves quickly. Given the unprecedented response to this virus, Weichert has developed a resource to provide all corporate mobility professionals with the latest best practices and strategies for managing mobile employees in the face of Coronavirus.
Breaking News in Global Talent Mobility
With over 700,000 reported cases of the coronavirus, its impact is growing—and so are its global economic effects. In an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, companies have begun relocating their China-based employees and canceling annual events in surrounding areas. Europe has also felt the impact, with Italy becoming the first country outside of China to completely restrict travel within and across its borders.