There is not an industry immune to the devastating effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Depending on the type of business, some are needing to quickly adapt to having their entire workforce telecommute, while others must maintain on-site operations, particularly for those deemed essential services. Regardless of what’s been the case for your business, the impact COVID-19 has had on HR and work-from-home policies has been pronounced to say the least.
With how much changes on a daily basis, it’s impossible to make any grand COVID-19 updates on the long-term effects the pandemic will have on HR and mobility, but there are some changes and considerations businesses should begin taking into account to better navigate this difficult time.
What changes in laws and regulations could impact your employees?
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred all levels of government into emergency action. There’s been a flurry of measures taken to help both individuals and businesses. Below are a few you and your employees should be aware of.
- People now have until July 15 to file their 2019 tax returns.
- The deadline for Americans to acquire a REAL ID has been extended to October 1, 2021.
- Most Americans will be receiving checks from the government as part of the recently passed stimulus package. Here is a calculator for them to get an estimate of how much they should expect to receive.
- Employers can now take employees’ temperature, which normally is prohibited, to help identify individuals who might have the virus.
How best can we assist employees on domestic or international assignments?
Many businesses are opting to continue on with assignments as they normally would, emphasizing the same Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines concerning frequent handwashing, social distancing and limiting unnecessary travel for employees on assignment. However, this is a question that varies from company to company. If you need help identifying the right path for your business, we’d love to help.
Communicate to your employees early and often with coronavirus updates
This is true of any crisis situation. The longer employees go without hearing any official updates, the more likely they are to make their own assumptions. As noted above, things with the COVID-19 virus are changing on a daily basis, which can make determining your company’s response plan difficult. Even if you don’t have all the answers (and who does?), share that your leadership is monitoring the situation to develop a plan and send coronavirus tips while also encouraging employees to share questions and concerns.
Also make sure you have feedback channels in place to hear how your staff is handling the crisis. This is especially critical with so many individuals working from home. Account for this feedback in ongoing messaging to help your employees feel affirmed and heard. Doing so not only will help boost morale during a difficult time, but also help your talent retention coming out of this crisis.
Dial up the empathy when communicating company needs
This situation truly is unprecedented territory that’s thrown both people’s personal and professional lives upside down. Virtually everyone is operating at a higher stress level in some way. It’s important for businesses to acknowledge this and give employees space to share their concerns. Certainly, continue to share business-critical messages and directives, but make sure you also take into account the common challenges and COVID-19 concerns everyone is facing.
Some things shouldn’t go back to business as usual once the pandemic is over
Fortunately, this crisis ultimately will pass, and life can return to normal. Whenever that is though, don’t be too quick to end all the special considerations around telecommuting, video conferencing, flex schedules and similar topics. Before COVID-19, employees had been requesting to work from home in increasingly higher numbers. Many businesses that had been hesitant to try them had their hand forced with COVID-19, and hopefully, they are finding these arrangements aren’t as counter-productive as they once feared. Find ways to continue these policies after you resume normal operations. Otherwise, some of your employees might go looking for other organizations that do.
You might also find some people are more conscious of hygiene and physical contact, going so far as to abstain from common greetings like a handshake. You don’t necessarily need to ban these things, but your company should acknowledge not everyone is comfortable with them and have that be perfectly acceptable.
There is no shortage of things to consider in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With how much changes each day, it’s important to stay fluid in your response and continually monitor for developments that could impact your business.
If you’re finding it difficult to make sense of what your HR and mobility looks like in the short and long term as a result of current events, we’re here to help any way we can.