It goes without saying that 2020 has been quite a year and it has revealed a lot of things that require serious attention across virtually every aspect of how things are done. Call them hidden truths, call them cracks in the system… call them what you will, it does not change the fact that there is work that needs to be done in many areas. One of them being the workplace. 2020 has certainly highlighted how antiquated the workplace is and it proved that if you aren’t open to being ahead of the curve with change, you will be forced into it whether you like it or not.
Case in point – employees working remotely. Remember when some companies did not want to let employees work from home for a variety of (probably antiquated) reasons? Then COVID came in like a wrecking ball knocking down that wall and forced companies to make the change to allow employees to work remotely whether they wanted to or not AND had to set up all of the technology and adjust productivity in a very compressed time frame. The upside is it is working out for most companies and the employees.
We understand that change is scary and sometimes it also has to do with a feeling of loss of control. There is no bigger feeling of loss of control than being forced to change at a period of time, and within a timeframe, in which you have not control over. A worldwide pandemic. Let's learn from the working remotely lesson and be more open to other flexibilities and changes in the workplace and around workplace policies. Here are some other antiquated policies and/practices to re-evaluate for 2021:
Remote Working – There is still some work that can be done here around expectations, communication, and how the company is going to operate moving forward in a post-pandemic world. If it has not been done already, companies should be re-evaluating their work from home policies as a standard operation rather than only during a situation like COVID.
Paid Time Off Policies – Similarly to being forced into remote work, some companies were forced in providing paid time off to employees through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) along with the various States passing paid sick time requirements. Take the time now to evaluate Paid Time Off policies to see if they still make sense for the needs of the workforce but are also compliant with any State or Federal regulations. PTO policies should be designed for people to use the time and take time off when they are sick, so they don’t have to worry or get other sick because they come to get paid. Not to mention vacation and time for rest and relaxation. Does your PTO policy support or hinder employees? It should support and encourage time off. It is also helpful to ask employees what they need to be able to take time off. *hint – see cross training below*
Dress Codes – Is this still a thing? It is at some places and they even have dress codes for when on video calls. Is that necessary? It depends. Dress code policies are worth re-evaluating to see if they 1. Even need to be in existence 2. Are still applicable to the workforce 3. Do not have separate requirements of male and female employees.
Bereavement policies – Bereavement policies have never really been ideal and do not align with how people live. Typically, bereavement policies focus on immediate family and sometimes extended family with limited availability to paid time off. It should not be up to the company who may or may not be important or close to the employee.
Hiring Practices – The recruiting and hiring process in general can use a complete overhaul. It is a situation that both the candidate and hiring manager typically dread but it is because everyone thinks they need to hold everything so close to the chest and only show their hand at certain times in the process. It doesn’t have to be like that. The candidate experience is the window to the work environment of your small business. Pay attention to that and treat people through that process the same way that you would expect to be treated. Be transparent about pay for the roles and include a pay range in the job posting or at minimum, give candidates the position pay range at first contact. Be open minded and refrain from making assumptions about people based on things on their resume, including gaps in employment, movement between jobs and companies or assuming they are “overqualified”.
Employee Benefits – Benefits for employees aren’t always what companies think they are and then companies invest time and money into offering benefits to employees that they may not even need or use. Traditionally we see medical, dental, vision, etc. as employee benefits, which are great. But employee benefits are more than that. The benefits should be about the employee, not about the company and if the company is going to spend the money to provide benefits, it should be something that truly is a benefit to the employee that they will use or that they need. What people need changes over time and changes given different circumstances. What would really help employees ease their minds or relieve a burden is what an employee benefit is all about. That’s were lifestyle benefits come into play. Benefits like Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that support total well-being through mental health support, health advocacy and similar programs. Subscriptions to delivery apps or childcare programs. Those are employee benefits that truly support the individual. We recommend checking out Fringe for a lifestyle benefit option.
Cross training – If cross training isn’t a part of your small business, it should be. One of the many reasons why cross training is so beneficial to both small businesses and employees is because it keeps things moving. In a small business, if one person is gone, it can hinder the whole operation. With cross training, it prepares the company for both unforeseen circumstances related to employee changes but also for planned situations like vacation and time off. The biggest dread for people taking time off is coming back to a weeks’ worth of work piled up for them to conquer on their first day back. Having a team that is cross trained supports the ability for people to feel comfortable taking time off and having that separation from work that we know is ultimately more productive for everyone in the long run.