In the wake of a global pandemic, companies everywhere have had no choice but to adjust their current business strategies to overcome the internal and external ramifications brought on by the novel coronavirus. Some organizations have found more success than others when it comes to carrying out their “normal” business day while simultaneously keeping their employees healthy, happy, and motivated in a time of crisis.
Nevertheless, it’s critical that HR leaders and workforce management continue to evolve their business practices with the COVID-19 landscape to protect the well-being of their staff and the company as a whole. Doing this may be challenging at first, but by reconsidering a few HR policies, you’ll be able to build up the foundation of your company, develop interpersonal relations with your team, and further instill the core values in and outside of your organization.
Let’s take a deeper dive into common HR policies and how they can be reconsidered for the greater good of your company:
1. Leave Policies
Similar to employee health coverage, the leave policies for businesses can vary from company to company. For private employers, there are no federal policies enacted that require them to provide leave benefits like sick days, vacation time, or paid time off (PTO) for their employees. Although these policies are enforced across public sectors, state and municipal leave policies typically differ across the market, which ultimately gives organizations the authority to decide which leave benefits to offer as an incentive to new and existing employees.
Given the lack of federal mandate, you’d think that most employers would choose to reward their workers with a few leave benefits during the wake of this pandemic, but sadly, this isn’t the case. Despite the fact that some private employers have implemented a combination of the leave policies, others have not.
According to an employee benefits survey recently conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hourly-wage workers with a low-income status are less likely to have paid sick time, meaning that small, local businesses and their employees are more susceptible to the financial burden caused by COVID-19.
Due to the fact that these employees have been thought of as “essential workers” in the midst of the global pandemic, it’s necessary they receive support from their employers. With everything going on, it’s natural for employees to compare their company’s leave policies with other businesses and their paychecks against those who’ve filed for unemployment during this time.
Fortunately, the Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCRA) Act that went into effect in April has helped with leave coverage for most companies. This act requires certain public employers and private employers with less than 500 people to provide their employees with some form of paid sick leave for employees who’ve been battling the consequences caused by the coronavirus. In spite of this regulation, however, HR leaders should still reexamine their company’s current leave benefits and adjust them accordingly.
2. Health Benefits
At its core, human resource management is all about supervising and handling the wellness of both their company and employees. And now more than ever, it’s essential for HR leaders to step up and put their skills to the test by evaluating the well-being of individual employees as it relates to their motivation and needs at the company.
With an ongoing pandemic at hand, there’s no question that an emphasis on health-related topics and concerns is a prevalent issue in today’s world.
Telehealth and virtual healthcare coverage, for example, have become an increasing area of interest for people who are unable to schedule in-person appointments due to the effects of COVID-19. Luckily, patient care has been able to significantly improve thanks to telemedicine companies who offer everything from prescription-based skincare to virtual physician assistance on their online platform.
For this reason, it may be valuable to your company to encourage employees to utilize telehealth by implementing a rewards program that promotes employee recognition and company engagement by participating in the use of telemedicine services.
Research reports that the coronavirus outbreak has sparked higher demand for mental health support. Between the constant news updates, social distancing policies, and limitations for public outings, it’s easy to see how COVID-19 has impacted stress and anxiety levels.
With this in mind, HR leaders may want to make an effort to schedule monthly check-ins with their employees or offer some additional mental health resources to demonstrate empathy and compassion for employee experience under these unforeseen circumstances.
3. Remote Work Schedules
From forced office closings to the social restrictions that have been carried out amid the COVID-19 outbreak, remote work has become the “new normal” for most businesses. For some companies, remote work has been something they’ve prepared their company for so they can smoothly transition.
On the other hand, some businesses have faced challenges with the changes in operations and workforce management, causing confusion and impatience. With limited areas available to the public, maintaining a healthy, work-life balance is almost impossible for employees right now. Since many of them have to work from home, they have no choice but to merge their work-life with their home-life.
All things considered, remote work and employee engagement should be at the forefront of conversation for HR leaders throughout your company. It’s unrealistic to think that the business will not be impacted by this transition without a few operational and departmental changes.
Starting with a reexamination of employee work hours. While a nine to five schedule may have worked before COVID-19, it may not be the right schedule for employees during this time (and even post-pandemic). The reasons for this are endless — tight living arrangements, children at home, poor internet connections, lack of resources provided by the company, limited connection to the outside world — the list goes on.
To figure out where your employees stand with remote work and other life adjustments, send a company-wide survey or schedule a virtual meeting with every single employee through a platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts. This strategic approach can give the HR team answers fast and allow you to confidently decide on how you’d like to tackle remote work hours for employees.
Beyond that, it’ll give the HR team a chance to open up the floor to their employees, which can be a very powerful way to strengthen rapport across the company and build together as a team.
Change is never as effortless as it may seem. It’s natural to experience a few bumps in the road, especially when your life is turned upside down from an unforeseen virus that’s continuing to spread across the world. You may not have control with much right now, but what you do have control over are your HR policies.
As a leader, it’s your job to evoke the change you wish to see in the world by making positive transitions for your employees. Regardless of whether you reconsider one of these policies or all three of them, your impact will make a difference.
Remember that at the end of the day, your employees have (and will always be) your company’s greatest asset. By reconsidering management regulations and taking preventative measures to protect their health and happiness, your company is bound to bounce back and thrive as it moves forward post-COVID-19.