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Transitioning Back to the Workplace - Part 2 of 4

Updated: May 20

This is the second part of a four-part series in which we will look at a variety of things that small businesses must consider when planning next steps and bringing employees back into their jobs or back into a work environment.


In our first part of the series, we talked assessing the work arrangements of your small business and what that looks like now and in the future. You can read part 1 here to catch up.


In this part of the series, we will look at the policies, procedures and documentation that should be either created or reassessed to make sure they align with the new workplace. Some of the policies will be driven by the decisions that were made in Part 1 of the Checklist series and the new work arrangements that have been established, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Work from Home Policies – based on the decision made in related to continuing to allow employees to work from home, either full time or par time, defining a policy around telework is imperative for setting standards and expectations around working from home. There could be situations in which not all positions can be done remotely. If that is the case, the work from home policy is even more important in clarifying what roles do and do not qualify for telework based on business needs. Telework policies can and should include a variety of components, not only who can or cannot work remotely. The policy should also cover things such as technology requirements, background standards for the video calls and yes, even a dress code or appearance standards. For a little perspective around this topic, check out this article. Each companies’ policy may be different based on the business needs, culture and internal versus external interactions.


Paid Time Off, Leave and other applicable policies – The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was enacted on April 1st, is effective through December 31, 2020, is applicable to all companies with under 500 employees and provides paid leave to employees for a variety of reasons related to COVID-19. This Act has forced small businesses to assess their paid time off and leave policies 1. To account for this new requirement and 2. To provide necessary protections to employees and the workforce when they need to be out of work because of any illness. Some states have requirements around providing paid leave, but not all and it is typically up to company policy.


Infectious Disease policy – Having a policy related to infectious disease in the workplace outlines expectations around what the company is doing to provide a safe and healthy work environment as well as the expectations of employees and their responsibility to themselves and their co-workers in the workplace. This policy could also incorporate standards related to the physical work environment, that we will dig deeper into in the 3rd part of this series.


Organizational Chart updates – With layoffs or other staffing changes through the pandemic, it is possible that the reporting and team structure of the small business is different than it was prior to the pandemic. If that is the case, updating the organization chart and providing current company information to employees is another important step in communication and updating HR related policies or information.


Recruiting Strategy – Assessing and redefining your small business recruiting strategy to ensure that everything is in place to be able to recruit for the right fit employees effectively but quickly is important for a variety of reasons. One being that it is very likely that there are open positions because the recall or rehire of laid off and furloughed employees was unsuccessful for whatever reasons. It is also very likely that there will be turnover of employees that may want a remote working arrangement if it has been determined that remote working isn’t a long-term option for your small business. Lastly, with unemployment at an all-time high and the way things are done is completely different than it was before, adjusting you recruiting strategy to accommodate those changes is necessary for moving forward.


Job Descriptions – A regular review of job descriptions is recommended even outside of a pandemic, but similar to the organizational chart, it is likely that roles have changed, and the job descriptions need to be updated to reflect those changes. The job description should be updated to reflect any work from home arrangements, any change in responsibilities as well as any job consolidations or work share arrangements, even if temporary through a phased back to work approach.


Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) process – As mentioned, the enactment of the FFCRA on April 1st applies to all companies with less than 500 employees so small businesses need to have a process for managing employee leave requests under this act. The process should include guidelines around the request for information from the employee, employee eligibility, approval or denial of leave documentation and reasoning, tracking of leave time for tax credits as well as how much time is available to employees, pay adjustments based on the leave taken and a return to work process.

There are a lot of things to consider and decide when returning employees to work that were not of concern before March 2020 and the company policies need to reflect these new decisions. Companies and employees alike will experience things that have they have never experienced before in the workplace and having clearly defined policies, job descriptions and standards provide the support employees need to best function in their roles and feel comfortable at work.


Don’t go at this alone. The team at Employers Advantage LLC is here to help support your small business and work together to get small business back in business.

Be well,

Deanna

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Bridging the gap between HR policy & practical application.

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