Insights

Adjusting your HR policies: Working through today’s pandemic

At ECS we’ve been fielding a lot of questions on how to handle all different aspects of business in light of our current environment. This is new territory for us all.

No topic is more important than HR, as great people are the engine to your business and do truly help fuel our economy.

HR leaders are faced with many new challenges today and may need to modify policies based on changing situations. The question is, how do you adjust your HR approach in our current climate? And yes, you are allowed to adjust policies. The key is to be fair and consistent in your approach.

Here are some important considerations when adjusting your HR policies:

Sick time and attendance policy:  Since people now have to quarantine when any symptoms arise, it’s important to be sure your sick time and attendance policy reflect that need. There are going to be times where employees won’t be allowed to come to work (if they haven’t already been moved to work virtually in situations where this is possible).

Vacation time:  If your company needs to cut hours, allow flexibility on vacation time so it can be used to either supplement income and/or be used for personal needs. Many companies that are cutting back worker hours (for instance, the hotel industry) are allowing employees to use vacation time to make up some of the loses.

Keep in mind ADA/FMLA/EEOC/WC laws:  Just because we’re in the midst of a health crisis doesn’t mean employment laws don’t still apply.  Be sure your continuing to adhere to those guidelines and doing right by all of your employees. It’s perhaps more important than ever to be vigilant on this front.

Don’t fight unemployment:  If you’ve had to lay off employees due to coronavirus, then allow those workers to apply for unemployment compensation without contesting it.  This isn’t the time to fight unemployment – plus morale will plummet among your existing staff if you chose to challenge anyone’s ability to get through this time.

Ask how the company can help:  Just ask your employees the simple question: “how can we help you get through this?”  It’s often the little things that make big difference in people’s lives.  If you don’t ask, you won’t know. We all need to look out for each other, especially those with whom we work closely.

Be transparent in your communications:  Businesses are making difficult decisions: stay open or close? Lay off people or cut back hours? It is vital to approach the process with candor and transparency so your team understands how and why you are making the decision. Employees also need to have a vision for your short- and long-term plans moving forward.  Don’t leave anyone guessing what’s going on or in the dark.

As we all continue to navigate through these uncertain times, be sure to reach out to others with questions. The ECS team is always happy to talk through your specific questions or concerns – we are ready to support you however we can.  Feel free to reach out to me – Karen Butz, HR Director, kbutz@thinkempirical.com, and LinkedIn with me here.