Namely, the leading HR platform for mid-sized companies, having recently analyzed aggregated data from its popular time and attendance management functionality, today released its findings regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on "paid time off" (PTO) requests.
In January and February 2020, PTO requests stayed almost exactly the same as they did in 2019. As stay-at-home orders became mainstream in March 2020, Namely's platform saw a year-over-year decline in PTO requests (36 percent of employees requested off in March 2019 versus only 27 percent in March 2020); yet, the average length of requests was longer. In April 2020, employees requesting PTO plunged to 18 percent on average versus 38 percent during the same month in 2019. By May 2020, as restrictions started to lift, PTO requests were on the rise again, although still significantly lower (24 percent of employees requesting off) than in May 2019 (38 percent of employees requesting off).
According to a 2019 study by WorldatWork, 37 percent of employees do not use their allotted paid time off each year. To encourage utilization of this critical benefit, some organizations have established a "use or lose" policy. With so much uncertainty in today's workplace, a clearly stated vacation policy with an automated approval process helps employees feel empowered to take the time they've earned.
Industry analyst Madeline Laurano, Founder of Aptitude Research, commented, "COVID-19 has disrupted almost every aspect of work-life balance, from work-from-home to homeschooling. While it might feel like taking paid time off doesn't make sense right now, unplugging during the summer months can help employees manage the burnout of these pandemic times. In fact, it can actually result in improved productivity and employee engagement."
Namely's CEO Larry Dunivan added, "With travel restrictions in place, it might seem counterintuitive to take time off; however, taking a break from work can be restorative. Giving managers visibility into schedules in advance and communicating the ground rules to everyone ensures employees can leverage their PTO benefits. In helping employees achieve some of those restorative benefits, Namely added two company holidays and offered summer hours in July and August to encourage employees towards this objective."
Namely tracks PTO request data annually and compares the current year against the previous year. PTO – as in vacation requests – is tracked separately from longer-term leave requests. Data was normalized for fluctuations related to COVID-19.
For more information about Namely's time and attendance software, including online time tracking, mobile/geo-fenced time tracking, scheduling and reporting, click here.
Due to COVID-19, the current business market is in upheaval. Customers are staying home, and businesses are forced to adapt their organizations on a daily basis. In particular, this pandemic has taken a significant toll on small businesses—especially those that are dependent on local foot traffic.
Therefore, many small businesses owners and employees are in crisis mode and are worried about the future of their organizations, jobs, and the overall economy. However, there are ways that small businesses can weather the storm and even set themselves up for success once this crisis passes.
Adopt Online Tools
With stay-at-home orders in place and most people working from home, small businesses may be struggling to run daily operations remotely. Luckily, there are several online tools that can help you be productive during this challenging time.
For example, a People Operations platform can help you engage your employees no matter where they are located. As for financing, online small business banks enable you to deposit checks and monitor your cash flow remotely. Finally, CRM and sales marketing tools can help you stay on top of your sales funnel and continue to grow your business.
Adapt to Current Market Trends
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, market trends keep evolving. It’s especially important for small businesses to stay up to date with these consumer trends and the latest business news. By paying attention to the changing market, you can strategically position your business to be successful, both during this pandemic and afterwards.
Since people are working remotely now, can you bring your offerings online? Think about your customers: how has the Coronavirus impacted their day-to-day? Can you count on your branding to win over new customers or should you shift your messaging?
Thinking critically about your business strategy can help you stay relevant in the changing landscape and may even help you open a new revenue stream in the future. Maybe you’ll come across a new market for your business to dive into that you haven’t even considered before!
Use Social Media
As a small business, it’s possible that you’ve had to cut your marketing budget due to the pandemic. With that being said, using social media is an alternative way to continue building your brand while reducing marketing costs. Try to use your business’ social channels to showcase your employer brand instead of selling your product. Communicate your updated hours, how you’ve taken precautions for COVID-19, and what ways you’re adapting to meet customer needs.
This is also a great opportunity to engage with customers and your community. Share community news and support other local businesses through your social sharing. Ask your customers to share insights that they’ve found helpful during this difficult time. This will not only help boost the local economy, but it will also show your brand’s investment in the community and your customers’ wellbeing
Looking for more information on how to help your business and employees weather the coronavirus storm? Check out our Coronavirus Resource Center.
Whether it’s an insurance application, a W-4 form, or a photocopy of a driver’s license, your employees’ sensitive information needs to be protected - especially during this extended tax season as scams and refund theft increases. While the IRS has made efforts to improve identity verification, scammers only need a few crucial pieces of data to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to make sure that documents are stored securely and disposed of properly. If not, you could be faced with hefty fines from state and federal agencies. To ensure that personal information is safe from prying eyes, use these tips to create and implement a company-wide plan:
Practice Security Procedures
To keep your employees’ information protected, your company will need to develop and enforce security policies. These guidelines will dictate which information is deemed sensitive and how that data will be protected. Having these policies in place will also help determine which employees need access to what information. For example, Sales managers should have the authorization to view performance goals while HR managers should have access to tax paperwork.
No matter what form the information is in, it should be stored safely. For paper records, ensure documents are kept in a locked location, like a secure room or fire-safe filing cabinet. Store digital records in a private server with password protection and data encryption. If your technology is more than a few years old, have it evaluated to confirm that it can protect and store information without being susceptible to viruses or bugs.
To limit access, delegate the responsibility of managing private records to only a few individuals. This system not only controls who sees personal information, but also allows for easier office surveillance. If there are any situations where unauthorized individuals view protected information, an investigation needs to be launched promptly to determine why and where there was a breach in security. Once a cause is determined, use it as a learning experience and update your security policy to eliminate any flaws in the procedure.
Provide Training to Staff
With your company’s security policies in place, your staff will need to be trained on your new procedures. This education should also focus on general best practices for protecting private information. Use this time to remind employees about updating passwords regularly, not responding to phishing or spam emails, and avoiding the use of their social security numbers or bank account information whenever possible. While this might seem like obvious information, it’s beneficial to educate employees on these preventative measures.
At the beginning of each year, your HR department should distribute W2s in a secure and timely manner. Make sure employees pick up their forms in-person and ask HR staff to double-check that their mailing addresses are accurate. If possible, you can even offer employees the opportunity to download their W2s from an online portal. This option not only speeds up the distribution of W2s, but also prevents the need to mail the forms to off-site employees.
To further prevent tax-time identity theft, employees should file their returns as soon as possible. This will prevent identity thieves from using a fraudulent tax return to claim a refund later in the season. Getting a refund directly deposited into a bank account can also help stop the theft of paper checks coming in the mail. For employees new to filing taxes, encourage them to use a financial service that reduces fees for their tax return. This will enable them to track the deposit of their tax refund instantly and not have to wait for a monthly bank statement. Electing to have a tax refund directly deposited can even speed up the payment process by a couple of weeks.
Follow Recordkeeping Laws
Since most recordkeeping laws differ from state to state, you will need to research what regulations your company is required to comply with. The Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and many other federal agencies require different records to be retained for varying amounts of time. As a general rule, employee records should be kept for at least seven years after termination. Any benefits or medical records need to be held six years after the start date of an employee’s health plan. Hiring records also need to be stored for at least two years after the date an employee is hired. Before you destroy any out of date documents, you will need to check with the appropriate state and federal agencies to confirm that the records are no longer required.
Once your records are approved for disposal, they will have to be destroyed appropriately. That means these documents will need to be shredded, burned, or pulverized. Whatever method you use, the records should be destroyed to the point of unreadability. If your company does not have the means to destroy records in-house, many third-party vendors can securely remove unneeded documents for off-site disposal.
The best way to stop identity theft is by preventing sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands. Since most cases of fraud start with a paper source, you can help protect your employees by implementing a data security policy. By keeping personal documents secured, educating your workforce, and using proper disposal methods, you can protect your employees’ information.
On May 20, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2020-32 announcing the annual inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) for calendar year 2021. An HSA is a tax-exempt savings account that employees can use to pay for qualified health expenses.To be eligible for an HSA, an employee:
Deciding which employees to return to the workplace following a furlough or temporary layoff, and in what order you’ll call them back, will require an individualized analysis for each organization. For those who aren’t sure where to start, we provide this as a starting point.
First, think about overall operations in the future. How busy do you expect to be? It’s best to slightly underestimate need; if employees stop their unemployment insurance (UI) claims only to be sent home again after a few days, their continuity of income may suffer. It’s also easier administratively if you only need to furlough and then recall an employee once. And, you can always recall more employees once you’re certain the need exists.
Think about whether there are parts of the products and services you offer that will be more or less important in the future. For instance, a bakery might have very little event catering in the next few months, but may need more delivery drivers. If your company went through the Great Recession, how were you impacted by the economic downturn at that time? Which departments and types of jobs were most essential as business resumed? Which were least essential?
Forecasting future staffing needs will likely require a lengthy discussion amongst the organization’s leaders as well as a willingness to change course as business — and the economy itself — fluctuates.
Individual Employee Selection
Once you’ve settled on a general staffing plan, you’ll need to decide which employees you want to return first. Establish one or more criteria for return. You don’t have to adhere perfectly to the criteria you choose, but the more closely you follow your system the easier it will be to explain decisions to employees (or government agencies or lawyers) who may be unhappy with your approach. If you deviate from your system, be sure to take good notes on why you did so. Some potential criteria for employee selection include:
- Unique or difficult-to-replace skill sets. Business needs will likely dictate when you bring back individuals with special skills, but you may also want to make a point to reach out to these people sooner than later to ensure that they will be available when you need them.
- Overall performance. Preferably, performance-based decisions will be based on written documentation you already have, such as performance reviews, production metrics, disciplinary actions, or a history of attendance/tardiness issues. If performance — whether good or bad — has not been previously documented but will still be the basis of your decision, you should take the time to create that documentation now.
- Seniority. Using seniority as the primary factor in a layoff decision is a simple, objective reason that can reduce the company’s exposure to liability. However, this is not always in the employer’s best interest when attempting to operate “lean,” since seniority may not correlate with the skills you need most in the workplace.
- Demonstrated ability and willingness to do work outside of their usual assignments. These are uncertain times and having someone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and clean the bathroom or make a delivery if necessary may be invaluable. You can assess this quality based on past actions or by asking employees specifically about their willingness to do tasks that may be significantly outside their job description.
You may choose to call back some employees who have a mix of strengths but are not standouts in any area. This is perfectly acceptable, but be clear with employees and document your reasoning. All criteria used should be job-related or related to business necessity.
Potential Discrimination Pitfalls
Making decisions based on someone’s inclusion in the following federally protected classes is illegal: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age (over 40), pregnancy, citizenship or immigration status, military status, and disability. Some states have additional protected classes, so be sure to check state law.
Under the current circumstances, there are a few types of discrimination in particular that employers may fall into:
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees who are 40 or older. Older employees, on average, will have higher rates of pay. If you decide to eliminate the highest earners from your payroll to save the most money possible, that may disproportionately impact those over 40. If you are considering this approach, we encourage you to call an attorney before finalizing your decisions.
You may also be inclined to “protect” your older workers from the virus by not inviting them back. This should not be part of your analysis. If upon being offered work, an employee of any age tells you that they need an accommodation of remaining furloughed a while longer, then consider that request. Failing to bring an employee back to work because of their age — even if you’re operating with the best intentions — will be a clear case of age discrimination.
While the ADEA takes effect when an employer has 20 or more employees, a similar state law may apply and cover smaller organizations in your state.
Disability discrimination is also likely to be the result of employers trying to protect their employees. But it is not the employer’s job to determine what is best for an employee based on their known or perceived disabilities and doing so will amount to disability discrimination. In the communication you use to offer employees a return to work, all employees should be encouraged to contact you if they want to discuss safety issues or accommodations. Do not make assumptions about what employees will want to do based on their health — that decision is between them and their healthcare provider.
Should an employee request a reasonable accommodation, you should engage in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) interactive process. Requests for an accommodation also must not affect your decision about whether to return an employee to work.
While the ADA takes effect when an employer has 15 or more employees, a similar state law may apply and cover smaller organizations in your state.
Retaliation for Use of Protected Leaves
Employers should ensure that an employee’s use of a protected leave, whether recently or in the distant past, does not factor into their decision-making. Equating use of a protected leave with a reliability problem (for instance), and therefore not calling that employee back as soon as you would have otherwise, will constitute retaliation against that employee for exercising their rights. This applies to state-mandated sick leaves, leaves under the traditional Family and Medical Leave Act, ADA leaves, Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and any number of leaves that are protected by state law, such as voting leave and emergency responder leave.
Documentation is just as important now as ever. Even though it may feel like a mass furlough is the perfect opportunity to let go of poor performers, employers shouldn’t assume that their motives won’t be questioned. Documentation should be in writing and easily understood by an outsider to your business. Document why you chose to bring back certain groups of employees before others, as well as why each employee was chosen before others in their job type.
For Those You Don’t Bring Back
If you are bringing employees back in phases, it will save you time to communicate that plan to everyone as the recalls take place. If you bring back half your workforce but don’t communicate with the other half, they’ll hear about it through the grapevine and may start calling, texting, and emailing you frantically for more information. It will be best if you have a clear communication strategy and message from the outset and put people’s mind at ease about the future.
If you have decided not to bring certain employees back at all, you should communicate that decision to each of them as soon as possible so they can start making plans for their next job opportunity. Stringing someone along for weeks or months when you have little to no intention of bringing them back will result in ill-will. In the era of social media and online reviews — especially post-COVID-19, when many businesses will be fighting to rebuild their customer base — employers will benefit from showing compassion, especially toward those who will no longer be employed with them.
Need more tips for returning to work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? Click here to download our Return to Work Toolkit, featuring a checklist, a sample Welcome Back letter, a sample employee notice of face coverings, and some of your top compliance FAQs.
As countries and states around the world begin to re-open in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, HR and business leaders are left scrambling to make plans for their workforce to return to the physical office.
We teamed up with ThinkHR to answer your burning questions about the return to work process—from temperature checks to FFCRA compliance.
1. CAN WE SCREEN EMPLOYEES RETURNING TO WORK FOR COVID-19?
Yes. Generally, inquiries about an employee’s health or a medical exam (like a temperature check) would not be allowed, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 is allowed since it is a direct threat to others in the workplace. Because of that, you may inquire about symptoms related to the virus, require self-reporting by employees, and take employees’ temperatures.
Known symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and sudden loss of taste or smell. As the medical community learns more about COVID-19, additional symptoms could be added to this list. Employers can check this page for currently recognized symptoms.
If you decide to do screenings, make sure you screen all employees; otherwise you may find yourself in the middle of a discrimination claim. And remember that all information about employees’ health—including a lack of symptoms or temperature—must be kept confidential.
2. WE ARE REOPENING AFTER BUSINESS CLOSURE DUE TO COVID-19. CAN WE BRING SOME EMPLOYEES BACK, BUT NOT OTHERS?
Yes. If you are recalling some positions, but not others, you should document the business reasons why only those positions were recalled. If you are recalling some employees in a certain position, but not everyone in that position, you should document the objective, job-related criteria you used to decide which employees to bring back. Seniority or previous job performance, for example, would be acceptable criteria and relatively easy to defend if you are ever challenged.
3. SOME OF OUR EMPLOYEES HAVE SAID THEY DON’T FEEL SAFE RETURNING TO WORK. CAN WE JUST PERMANENTLY REPLACE THEM?
We recommend extreme caution when deciding to replace an employee who refuses to work because of concerns about COVID-19. Generally, employees do not have a right to refuse to work based only on a generalized fear of becoming ill if their fear is not based on objective evidence of possible exposure. However, under the current circumstances, where COVID-19 continues to be a threat across the country, we think it would be difficult to show that employees have no reason to fear coming in to work, particularly but not exclusively in a location with a shelter-in-place rule. Returning employees may also have certain rights under state and federal law. Here are few things to keep in mind:
- Recalled employees may have a right to job protected leave under a city ordinance, state law, or the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). See our overview of the FFCRA on the HR Support Center.
- Employees who are in a high-risk category — either because they are immunocompromised or have an underlying condition that makes them more susceptible to the disease — may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or state law if their situation doesn’t qualify them for leave under the FFCRA (or if they have run out of that leave). It would be a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances to allow the employee to work from home or take an unpaid leave, if working from home is not possible.
- Employees who live with someone who is high risk are not entitled to a reasonable accommodation under federal law, but we strongly recommend allowing them to work from home if possible or take an unpaid leave. Otherwise, they may decide to quit and collect unemployment insurance. If you want to keep them as an employee, being compassionate and flexible is your best bet.
- Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, an employee’s refusal to perform a task will be protected if all of the following conditions are met: Where possible, the employee asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and the employer failed to do so; the employee refused to work in “good faith,” which means that the employee must genuinely believe that an imminent danger exists; a reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; and there isn’t enough time, because of the urgency of the hazard, to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels, such as requesting an OSHA inspection.
Check state and local law to see if additional protections may apply.
Instead of replacing employees who express fear at this time, we recommend that you consider methods to encourage employees to come to work and to help put their minds at ease. Consider emphasizing all of the safety methods you have put in place (such as scheduled handwashing, frequent disinfection of surfaces, social distancing rules, reduced customer capacity, staggered shifts, or more extreme measures if warranted by your industry). We recommend relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health department guidance for establishing safe working conditions at this time. You might also consider offering premium pay (a.k.a. hazard pay) or additional paid time off for use in the future to employees who must come to work.
4. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY EMPLOYEE DISCLOSES THAT THEIR FAMILY MEMBER OR ROOMMATE HAS COVID-19?
5. CAN I SEND MY EMPLOYEE HOME IF THEY ARE SYMPTOMATIC?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised employers that employees who appear to have symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately. If the employee feels well enough to work, consider whether they can effectively telecommute.
Note: Nonexempt employees may be entitled to a few extra hours of pay if you’re in a state with reporting time pay, but this cost will be well worth it to maintain the safety of the workplace.
6. GIVEN COVID-19, IF AN EMPLOYEE IS OUT OF THE OFFICE DUE TO SICKNESS, CAN WE ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR SYMPTOMS?
Yes, but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. In most circumstances, employers shouldn’t ask about an employee’s symptoms, as that could be construed as a disability-related inquiry. Under the circumstances, however — and in line with an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace — we recommend asking specifically about the symptoms of COVID-19 and making it clear that this is the extent of the information you’re looking for.
Here’s a suggested communication: “Thank you for staying home while sick. In the interest of keeping all employees as safe as possible, we’d like to know if you are having any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Are you experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, a new loss of taste or smell?”
Remember that medical information must be kept confidential as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If the employee does reveal that they have symptoms of COVID-19, or has a confirmed case, the CDC recommends informing the employee’s co-workers of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace (but not naming the employee who has or might have it) and directing them to self-monitor for symptoms. Employers should also follow the CDC’s guidance for cleaning and disinfecting.
To help you prepare for the new workplace reality, we’ve put together a toolkit for the return to work, including a checklist, a sample Welcome Back letter, a sample employee notice of face coverings, and some of your top compliance FAQs. Download it here.
As states begin to loosen their Coronavirus social distancing restrictions and stay-at-home-orders, workplaces are beginning to discuss what going back to work will look like.
How is your company preparing? We want to hear from you: what kind of return-to-work plans have you created? Will your company remain remote, even as cities open? Will you still offer shareable snacks?
Fill out our survey below to let us know. We’ll share survey results in a few days so you can see how other businesses are navigating returning to the physical offer in the wake of COVID-19.
Need ideas on how to support your employees through these tough times? Click here to check out our COVID-19 Crisis Resource Center.
As companies continue to work remotely, many employees are struggling to adjust to their new daily routines. Between juggling work and the demands of their personal lives, it can be a big challenge for employees to stay on top of mental and physical health, while also prioritizing work.
If you begin to notice that your star employees are struggling, you may want to take a step back and reflect on what your company is or is not doing to adjust to the new normal.
Here are some tips on how to encourage your employees to stay on top of their heath:
Understand Schedule Changes
There are many advantages to working from home, but although it can be ideal for some, for others it can mean a whole new set of challenges. With schools and daycares around the country closed, many working parents are having to juggle their work responsibilities, while also caring for their children.
This is why it’s important for employers to be understanding and flexible when it comes to their employees’ needs. Although your employees should be held accountable if they are not meeting their work expectations, giving your employees the ability to work flexible hours can help alleviate their stress and increase productivity.
Employers should be considerate of what their employees require to achieve maximum productivity. If the standard 9-5 does not work for your employees, then discuss implementing a flexible working arrangement, or consider incorporating timesheets to better allocate everyone’s hours.
Check In With One Another
Communication is one of the most vital aspects of any well-organized company, but although communication is essential, it should never come across as overbearing. While employers should contact their employees regularly, they should also be mindful that they are not constantly disrupting employees or micromanaging their tasks.
You don’t want your employees to feel that you think they’re incapable of completing a task on their own or that you don’t trust them to get the work done. Schedule a weekly check-in that allows you and your employees to talk about all aspects of the job, how adjusting to working from home is going, and how they’re feeling about recent changes and their workload. You should also utilize your one-on-one time to set expectations for your employees, as well as allow them to set expectations they have for you.
Remind Them of Their Resources
There are many digital resources available to help employees during this hectic time. Telehealth companies offer both primary care and telepsychiatry, which can include anonymous virtual group therapy and individual therapy. If you sense that any of your employees are struggling to cope, advise them to get in contact with a support system. Encourage them to take advantage of your employee assistance program (EAP), if you have one, as well. If employees are stressed about their finances and you offer financial wellness benefits, remind them to leverage those resources as well.
To boost company morale, consider using Zoom for more than just meetings—schedule your own virtual happy hour after work! This can be a fun activity to help everyone step away from work and reconnect. Encourage stress relievers, like getting fresh air or informing them of any virtual fitness classes that could be beneficial.
You can even opt to make all of your one-on-one meetings “walking meetings,” so you and a direct report have an excuse to step outside mid-day. If you have one employee who is passionate about meditation or cooking, consider asking them to start a virtual social club that will give other employees a creative outlet they could turn to if needed.
Be Cautious of Burnout
One of the biggest hurdles many professionals will face when working from home is overcoming burnout. This typically develops when employees struggle to separate their work life from their personal life, which can be tricky when a bedroom or dining room becomes an office space. Employees might find themselves glued to their laptops at all hours of the day in order to stay on top of any work updates.
Help your team steer clear of burnout by keeping your virtual door open to encourage honest and transparent conversations. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as talking. You can also pair employees with a mentor or work-buddy to help support and keep each other focused. There are various ways to help eliminate burnout, so ask your employees what they need from you to help improve their productivity.
Also, workplace best practices are set from the top down. Encourage managers to sign off at a reasonable hour and respect employee’s time by not sending emails after a certain time. This way, no one feels pressure to stay online or check their email overnight.
Don’t Forget to Celebrate
Remember to stop and celebrate even the little victories. It can take a toll on your employees to continue to work hard and feel as though no one is noticing your efforts. That’s why it’s important to regularly show them your appreciation and gratitude. Email weekly achievements or shout-outs to highlight your employees’ work, leadership skills, and achievements.
Just because we are apart, doesn’t mean we can’t come together to acknowledge hard work and personal or professional milestones. Don’t forget to celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, and personal events, too. As you work closely with your employees don’t forget to give them the encouragement they need to succeed.
This is an adjustment period for both employees and employers. Make sure you are doing your part to maintain and encourage open communication with your team so they can feel appreciated and supported. Be patient, understanding, and flexible as you and your employees work to navigate this new work environment and embrace a new normal.l
NEW YORK, April 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- From engaging newly remote workforces to keeping up with rapidly changing compliance and legislative requirements, mid-sized employers are faced with a unique set of challenges due to the novel coronavirus. Namely, the leading HR platform for mid-sized companies, has responded to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic with product and service enhancements that enable compliant and engaging people management.
Expressly developed to keep employees connected and informed, Namely offers a combination of software solutions and services to help HR manage effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As federal and state governments pass laws aimed to curb the spread of the virus and keep the economy afloat, workplace compliance has become a pressing concern for mid-sized companies.
Namely has increased its Comply Solutions Powered by ThinkHR to deliver tools, templates, news updates, and more to help clients stay on top of coronavirus regulations and compliance updates, like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the CARES Act, HIPAA, ADA, OSHA, and more. Namely clients can also reach out to a team of certified compliance advisors to get expert answers to company-specific questions or general inquiries.
To support payroll changes for clients, Namely introduced a solution that allows clients to defer collection/remittance of tax payments in accordance with financial relief efforts (the CARES Act) that have stemmed from COVID-19. This also includes solutions for deferring student loan garnishments and social security as well as the increased reporting to support applications for loans being offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Namely has also created earning codes that allow businesses to track the new sick leave and FMLA as it relates to the FFCRA, and implemented another earning code to support the Employee Retention Credits offered by the federal government.
Remote Work Support
In its recent survey, Namely found that 45 percent of respondents said that employee morale was their top HR concern during the pandemic; 17.5 percent reported that productivity was their top business concern.
Namely is equipped to fully support the transition to remote work with virtual onboarding, eSignature, eLearning, a social-like newsfeed, team goal setting, custom fields for home office supply tracking, an easy-to-use online benefits selection wizard, and more.
Business Continuity Planning
Namely provides business-critical services to clients. As a result, the people operations platform provider exercises a business continuity strategy that combines industry best practices, risk management, and technology to provide resilience in the event of a disaster or other unforeseen disruption to normal business operations.
Crisis Center & Resources
Namely's Client Help Community has seen a 72 percent engagement increase since in the past weeks, as clients turn to the space for support and answers to common coronavirus questions. The Help Community features support articles to help clients navigate social security payment deferrals, student loan deferrals, remote work attendance tracking, check printing, and more.
To support HR professionals who are not Namely clients, the company launched a COVID-19 Crisis Resource Center. It features numerous resources to help companies remain connected, productive, compliant, and successful during social distancing.
"Right now, our job is to work harder than ever to make sure that the multitude of legislative, compliance, and operational changes can be well understood by the HR community," Namely CEO Larry Dunivan said. "We want to make ourselves and our products available to help HR, legal and payroll professionals at mid-sized companies navigate these complex waters."
Namely is committed to helping mid-sized organizations navigate this time of uncertainty. The company is offering their HR software and implementation services for free with the purchase of their robust Comply Solutions. This package is designed to give mid-sized businesses the affordable toolkit they need to effectively engage their workforce and stay compliant during this period of constant change.
To learn more about the offer, click here.
In today’s workplace, there’s no place like home. Whether you call it telecommuting or just working from home, the practice is undeniably on the rise. Since 2005, its prevalence has skyrocketed 173 percent.
Working from home is on course to becoming less of a perk and more of the new normal. Even so, there are several practical and compliance considerations your HR team will need to make. Follow the best practices below to ensure your work from home policy is more than just a remote success.
1. Set Expectations
Your team will need to set reasonable and clear expectations on who is allowed to work remotely and under what conditions. How many days per week are generally acceptable? Do employees need to work with the company for a certain amount of time before earning the privilege? Do employees need to formally request work from home days through your HR platform? Because all teams operate differently, it may be worth delegating specifics to individual managers. In most cases, they’ll thank you—not all departments or roles lend themselves to telecommuting equally.
Be clear that remote workers should be available during regular office hours, whether it's by telephone, Slack, email, or virtual meeting. Working from home doesn’t mean running errands or painting the garage on the company’s time. While it may seem obvious, spelling it out in your policy or employee handbook equips your HR team with a defense if an issue arises.
Lastly, stress employee accountability. Abuse of the benefit is a concern among businesses just starting out with telecommuting. Be sure to gently remind employees that telecommuting privileges are not a right and can be revoked if goals or expectations are not met. While that may sound harsh, HR will only rarely have to flex its muscles on the issue. Studies have found that telecommuters, aware that they may be viewed with suspicion, go out of their way to be available and contribute.
2. Take off the Blinders
Ever hear of FOMO? It’s more than just a social media phenomenon. “Fear of missing out” is a very real feeling among full-time remote workers, who may find themselves looking from the outside in.
These anxieties may come to a head around performance season, as telecommuters often feel overlooked for promotions or raises. Those concerns aren’t entirely unfounded. Researchers from MIT recently found that “passive face time,” or simply being seen in the office, could have a disproportionate impact on perceived performance. In the study, it was found to be a subconscious impulse on managers’ parts, and largely a wrong one. For most roles, studies have shown telecommuters actually outperform their office-bound colleagues.
Whether they’re remote or on location, learn how to keep your entire workforce in the loop with a social HR platform.
Akin to handling issues like unconscious bias, HR should keep a close watch on passive face time’s influence over reviews. Educate managers on the issue and keep a close watch on performance and compensation data. If there’s a clear trend of telecommuters being scored lower or overlooked for raises, look into the matter with their managers. Additionally, as we’ll discuss later, you can leverage technology to combat the influence of factors like passive face time.
3. Stress Communication
When employees are permitted to work remotely, the interpersonal dynamics are undeniably different. Interaction is largely scheduled in advance—there are no chance encounters by the water cooler or casual check-ins. It can become difficult for managers and HR departments to pick up on the subtle social cues employees give when they’re struggling or when something’s on their mind.
If communication is the key to success in any personal relationship, it’s arguably just as valuable in a work from home arrangement. Full-time teleworkers should be expected to participate in regular check-ins with managers.
When hiring a fully remote employee, go as far as to even evaluate writing skills. Despite the wealth of virtual meeting options out there, video and audio still take a backseat to emails, the reading and writing of which account for 28 percent of the average workweek. Your new hire doesn’t have to write like Hemingway, but he or she should be able to produce clear and concise correspondence.
4. Invest in Technology
Leveraging the right technology can bring your remote and on-premises staff closer together, stamping out that “FOMO” phenomenon.
It takes far more than just a phone system to bring remote workers closer into the fold. If you haven’t already, push to incorporate video into your workplace meeting habits. The impact can be dramatic: one survey found that 87 percent of remote employees felt more connected to their company through videoconferencing. If your company holds monthly or quarterly all-hands meetings, be sure to broadcast these as well.
Certain HR platforms make it easier promote a feeling of inclusion, specifically those that include a company social feed. These can be used to easily share business updates from leadership, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, or just to recognize other employees. Incorporating tools like these can help make even the largest company feel small, no matter where employees are geographically located.
5. Address Compliance
As is the case with most HR issues, compliance has a part to play in a successful work from home policy. For nonexempt or overtime-eligible employees, this is especially true. How can you track off the clock work when employees aren't on location?
When the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938, it's fair to say that telecommuting wasn’t on the minds of legislators. Let’s address a common misconception: no part of the FLSA explicitly prohibits hourly or nonexempt workers from doing their job remotely. That being said, there are a number of steps you can take to allow these employees to use your telecommuting perks without exposing your company to added liability.
Firstly, reiterate that even something as seemingly minor as checking emails after hours is still considered work. This is a best practice not just when dealing with telecommuters, but with any nonexempt employees. If you haven’t already, invest in technology that goes beyond what a paper timesheet can provide. Make it a rule that with all remote work, punching in and out is handled digitally and at the moment, not retroactively.
Managers should be mindful of their own habits as well. Messaging nonexempt, remote workers at odd hours only invites later compliance issues, regardless of whether he or she expects an immediate response.
In just a matter of years telecommuting has evolved from a novelty to a near-expectation among U.S. workers. Some have suggested that employers may be the biggest winners, with one study finding that companies could save $11,000 per employee, per year if half of their workforce worked remotely.
Whatever your take on the issue, there is no one-size-fits all approach to getting telecommuting right. By taking the telecommuting best practices above into consideration, you’ll have a work from home program that is fair, compliant, and really hits home.
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