Wednesday April 1, 2020
 

How AI will power the human side of Human Resources

As HR leaders try to scale their organizations in 2020 and beyond, strategic business decisions come down to strategic people decisions.

But in order to grow your company, empower front line teams and maximize efficiency, you often need people-centered technology to help you achieve these goals.

In fact, according to a recent Gartner Report, “88% of chief HR officers say they need to invest in three or more technologies over the next two years.” 

However, HR and People Operations leaders face many challenges when it comes to their day-to-day jobs and getting the resources that they need in order to execute their forward-looking initiatives. On top of having limited resources, today’s people leaders are overburdened with work and administrative tasks.

And 51% of HR leaders say, “…They didn’t have enough staff to appropriately handle the workload this year.” With a lack of budget for headcount, new technologies are positioned to support smaller HR teams to do more with less.

As a former Head of HR and the current CEO of a People Operations Platform, I’ve had direct experience with and currently work alongside HR industry leaders struggling with these types of issues. I often see HR leaders spending a great deal of time trying to get a seat at the table, achieve executive buy-in and showcase the ROI on their initiatives.

CFOs and key decision-makers frequently ask HR leaders to “show them the money” when it comes to making a case for investing in software or technology to improve the candidate, new hire and employee experience. 

While a numbers-first approach may work in business, treating people like numbers has a negative impact on any organization’s employee retention and therefore ultimately impacts their bottom line. As many as 40% of employees currently feel disconnected from their place of work, leading to disengagement, a drop in productivity and shorter employee tenures. When you think about it, HR professionals are every organization’s first line of defense, and they are responsible for safeguarding their company’s most important asset: people. 

While HR leaders struggle to deliver best in class employee experiences to increase retention and employee engagement, they’re having to evaluate how HR technology, AI and automation can better support them in their job and as people leaders. However, you can’t automate humanity. 

The more personalized your candidate-to-employee outreach is, the more your employees feel that you and your organization cares about them. So how can HR and People Operations leaders best assess AI, automation and how it can best impact their work and improve their organization?

Strategically deploying AI in HR

In my experience working with and helping HR leaders kickstart and support employee engagement initiatives, I’ve seen three key applications of AI in HR. AI can give People Operations leaders important insights when it comes to analyzing their people data, and using that data to make actionable decisions.

For example, at this stage of development, AI can (1) make recommendations, (2) provide predictions and (3) showcase anomalies based on previous employee patterns.

So how does this work in practice? AI can help HR leaders anticipate certain people changes, whether it’s based on previous employee tenures, promotions, or shifts in roles. Once HR leaders understand their people data, they can start their recruiting efforts in advance of having an empty role, design programs to improve career paths and create career mapping.

AI can highlight patterns like how long, on average, it takes an sales rep to get promoted to account executive, or showcase that perhaps you have very few experienced engineers on your team and in the upcoming year need to invest in more education and workshops for internal employees so that they can up-level their skill sets. 

One of the advantages AI gives HR leaders is that in the
best of cases, it can provide better recommendations based on thousands of data
points that the average HR person does not have time to analyze. When it comes
to candidate outreach for example, the AI in recruiting software sifts through
attributions, hundreds and thousands of resumes that fit a specific profile,
and that intake of data informs their recommendations. 

With recruiting specifically, HR leaders often find that they miss out on top candidates and talent because their response time wasn’t fast enough. But by automating messages or scheduling times to meet, automation does the bulk of the manual work for HR teams so that they can focus on how they will strategically position their company, do research on their candidate, and highlight parts of the organization that People Ops teams know from experience that their top talent is looking for. 

AI: The human connection

There can be a downside to AI and automation however, and that can be that the more communication or messages that are automated, the less human they can feel. However, when comparing HR technology, automation and AI tools, you should look to see how customizable these tools are, and program them to feel curated for your particular employee or candidate. 

Take for example the widely shared Spotify feature, “Your Top Songs.” This interactive feature is essentially a year in review, sent to millions of listeners, so the type of communication shared itself is not unique. However it’s the curation of what information is highlighted, your favorite song or artist, that makes it feel unique to you.

Perhaps you had no idea you listened to Billie Eilish 3,000 times last year, maybe that even scares you, but the reason Spotify continues to refine, iterate and offer a “Your Top Songs” feature is because it connects them to their customer base, it goes above and beyond and it shows their customers they care.

The same can be said of the way you program your messaging for your candidates, new hires and employees. You can, for example, design pre-boarding email templates for a sales team that very much reflect that specific team’s culture, automates team specific invites to go on outings to the opening night of Star Wars or whatever pop-culture event a particular team is obsessed with.

The more you inject personality into different team communications, the more you show that you’re listening, paying attention and trying to support the existing culture initiatives your team leaders are working hard to build. 

When utilized correctly, AI and automation can help reduce the administrative workload HR leaders face so that they can focus on bigger, strategic initiatives. To assess what types of AI or automation could be most effective for you, it’s important to review your people data and see where you can make improvements.

From there, when you start to automate messaging or leverage AI for recruiting, it’s essential to create personalized messaging that reflects your company’s values. Once the candidate is farther down the recruiting funnel, complement the speed and efficiency AI has given you to focus on researching and creating personalized communication so your candidates and new hires feel like they see themselves reflected in your company and in its communication.

After all, AI is only one tool that can help Human Resources. The most successful Human Resources leaders make sure they maintain their human connection to their people.

The post How AI will power the human side of Human Resources appeared first on HR Morning.

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EEOC reminds employers to stay vigilant on racial bias

EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon issued a reminder to employers to be vigilant for instances of discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or race.

Dhillon said in a news release, “Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can bring out the best and worst in people. We have seen many examples of people rising to the occasion, helping others in need, sometimes at great risk or sacrifice to themselves.  Sadly, there have also been reports of mistreatment and harassment of Asian Americans and other people of Asian descent.”

And in the workplace, she said, such discrimination is illegal. The commission is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

The EEOC chair urged employers and employees “to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace and to take action to prevent or correct this behavior.”

The President has recently changed his own racially-charged descriptions of the coronavirus after warnings of anti-Asian incidents and complaints from lawmakers, advocates and the Chinese government.

Additional information about national origin and race discrimination can be found at the EEOC website:

  • National Origin Discrimination
  • Race Discrimination

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EEOC OKs asking employees, candidates about COVID-19 symptoms

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, employers are permitted to check employees and job candidates for fevers, the EEOC said in recent guidance.

Employers may ask if employees and candidates are experiencing any other symptoms of COVID-19 as well.

Send symptomatic workers home

Typically, requiring a body temperature check would be
considered a medical exam and is forbidden under the ADA. However, during this
pandemic, the EEOC is making an exception.

Employers may also require any employees or candidates exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home. It’s important that the names of those affected remain confidential.

It’s also crucial to note that if you ask one candidate
about symptoms, you must ask all of them, or it could be considered
discriminatory. Employers may also delay the start date of any new hires
displaying symptoms.

The post EEOC OKs asking employees, candidates about COVID-19 symptoms appeared first on HR Morning.

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EEOC reminds employers on racial bias

EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon issued a reminder to employers to be vigilant for instances of discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or race.

Dhillon said in a news release, “Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can bring out the best and worst in people. We have seen many examples of people rising to the occasion, helping others in need, sometimes at great risk or sacrifice to themselves.  Sadly, there have also been reports of mistreatment and harassment of Asian Americans and other people of Asian descent.”

And in the workplace, she said, such discrimination is illegal. The commission is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

The EEOC chair urged employers and employees “to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace and to take action to prevent or correct this behavior.”

The President has recently changed his own racially-charged descriptions of the coronavirus after warnings of anti-Asian incidents and complaints from lawmakers, advocates and the Chinese government.

Additional information about national origin and race discrimination can be found at the EEOC website:

  • National Origin Discrimination
  • Race Discrimination

The post EEOC reminds employers on racial bias appeared first on HR Morning.

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HR self-care: The new norm in the age of COVID-19

During these challenging times, it’s important that HR leaders remain physically and mentally healthy, and yet, they are the first ones to forget to add themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness.

By better maintaining their health through self-care strategies, and by building support, HR leaders can more effectively develop the overall wellness that they are striving for.

HR leaders face a variety of challenges throughout the day. Some of these are daily tasks common to most employees at every level within the company – from getting up in the morning, commuting to work, caring for children and/or elderly parents, to time demands, technology demands and balancing work and a personal life.

However, HR leaders face the additional
challenges associated with managing constant uncertainty, attracting and
engaging talented staff, handling the bombardment of information from various
levels, and maintaining a strong health and benefits program.

Bill Wilkerson, CEO of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, identified the following as the top ten sources of workplace stress.

These make HR self-care a priority

The treadmill syndrome – Often, HR leaders have too much to do, too many responsibilities, and feel that they should be even more productive. Learning to delegate appropriately, prioritizing and being more realistic about what they can and should be achieving, can help to tackle this syndrome.

Random interruptions – Telephone calls, walk-in visitors, and ‘emergencies’ from the teams that they support. Goal setting, time management and assertiveness strategies can increase productivity, and alleviate the stress of incomplete projects.

Pervasive uncertainty – An HR leader has to have the emotional capacity to tolerate
uncertainty and frustration. Their coping strategies through this uncertainty
will allow them to be able to raise tough questions without getting anxious
themself. Others will observe their verbal and non-verbal cues, and this will
impact the rest of their team’s ability to effectively cope.

Mistrust, unfairness, unresolved
conflict and vicious office politics
 –
Addressing these situations head on through effective communication and
conflict management skills, rather than avoiding them, is the only way to
guarantee that these issues will not continue to poison them or their
workplace.

No sense of clear direction within the
company
 – When there is a sense of little
direction in the company, an HR leader must work to bring the vision into clear
focus.

Career and job ambiguity – Effective HR leaders tie what they do on a day-to-day basis
to the vision and mission of the company.

No feedback – This prevents HR leaders from knowing how they are doing and whether they are meeting corporate expectations. A 360-degree feedback process can help HR leaders identify any gaps between perception (what they think) and behaviour (what their team sees).

No appreciation – HR leaders are expected to give appreciation and are often not the recipients. Dr. Clifton and The Gallup Organization discovered that 65% of employees received no recognition in their workplace in the last year. However, we know that regular recognition and praise increase workplace engagement, productivity, safety, retention, and customer satisfaction.

Lack of communication – Mixed or incomplete messages can lead to critical mistakes in problem solving. While problem solving, the HR leader needs to ask who needs to learn what in order to develop, understand, commit to and implement the strategy. The HR leader needs to listen to others to raise questions that may indicate an impending challenge.

HR leaders get caught up in the situations that are stressful and often forget about the simple techniques that can be used to restore their body’s natural rhythm and decrease the negative effects that stress can have on them.

Practicing these quick tips, below, can ensure their health and wellness. The great thing about them is that they are fast and simple.

Breathing

Air is the primary ‘food’ of our body. Rapid, shallow breathing is a common involuntary reaction to stress and is part of our innate stress response. This shallow breathing causes us to feel tired and foggy headed. Deep breathing interrupts this stress response and can be a powerful means of recharging oneself and regaining a more natural rhythm. It can relieve headaches, relax shoulders, stop racing thoughts, increase energy and turn restlessness into calmness.

Desk-ercise

Tense muscles cause blood to be squeezed out of the body tissue resulting in oxygen and nutrient depletion. This can cause pain and even a lack of concentration. Deskercises or self-massage can be helpful in releasing tension and restoring the flow of blood. Deskercises can relax neck and shoulder muscles, increase focus for problem solving, and can revitalize energy.

Some quick examples: Neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, stomach squeezes, hip twisters, wrist curls, quarter squats, and hand massage. Focus on particularly tense muscles or create a whole-body stretching routine.

Nutrition, water, light

During high stress times we often
compromise or completely forget about eating, drinking and getting outside.
Taking lunch, drinking a glass of water, or going outside for a stretch break
are simple and necessary techniques that provide essential energy and can
restore rhythm.

Safe space – beauty, sound, aroma

The space in which we work can have a
profound effect on our mood, energy and comfort. It is a benefit to create a
space that feels, sounds and smells great and to take a few moments after a
stressful situation to become involved in the quiet of one’s surroundings.

Fun

An HR leader’s mood and behaviours drive
the moods and behaviours of everyone else – “Smile and the World Smiles With
You”. Moods are contagious – laughter is the most contagious of emotions and
depression can have a definite negative impact on the work group.

An HR leader’s emotional maturity affects their performance and creates a certain culture or work environment. It creates climates where information sharing, trust, healthy risk taking and learning flourish.

Leaders can make sure that they are in an optimistic, authentic and high-energy mood, which will positively affect their own behavior, and the mood and behavior or those around them.

Though HR leaders frequently forget to add
themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness, there are a
variety of strategies that can assist them in remaining physically and mentally
healthy.

Self-care in these chaotic and challenging
times must be the new norm. HR leaders need to address their unique challenges,
maintain their health through quick stress busters, and build support and
connectedness in their personal and professional lives.

The post HR self-care: The new norm in the age of COVID-19 appeared first on HR Morning.

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What you need to know

In an effort to provide
employees paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave in response to the
COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recently passed The Families First Coronavirus
Response Act (the Act). The Act will take effect on or by April 2, 2020.

The new law creates two new
emergency leave benefits for eligible employees: (1) emergency paid family and
medical leave and (2) emergency paid sick leave. It generally applies to
employers with fewer than 500 employees, with some exceptions discussed below.

Key provisions of the Act
that will impact employers are summarized here:

Up to 12 weeks of Emergency
Family Medical Leave
(EFML) is available to employees who have been
employed a minimum of 30 days and who are unable to work (or telework) because
they need to care for their child whose school is closed, or whose childcare
provider is unavailable because of a public health emergency
. Additionally,
the Act provides that:

  • The first 10 days of EFML is unpaid, but employees may elect to substitute any of the employer’s other paid leave benefits during this period, e.g., paid vacation leave.
  • After the initial unpaid 10 day period, employers must pay employees at least two-thirds of their regular compensation, up to a maximum of $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate.
  • The FMLA’s job protections apply to EFML, but there is an exemption for employers with fewer than 25 employees, where the employee’s position is eliminated because of economic slowdowns related to the declaration of a public health emergency and the employer attempts to restore the employee’s employment within a year.
  • The Secretary of Labor is permitted to exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees from the EFML requirements if the Act’s requirements would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” We are closely monitoring the Department of Labor for announcements about possible exemptions for small employers.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) is available to all
employees for immediate use, regardless of their length of employment.
Employees may take EPSL for the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19.
  • The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine because of concerns related to COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for an individual who is quarantined or advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care for the child has been closed, or the child car provider is unavailable because of COVID-19 precautions.
  • The employee is experiencing any other, substantially similar condition, as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Other aspects of EPSL
include:

  • Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of EPSL, and part-time employees are entitled to EPSL in the amount equal to the average amount of hours they work over a two-week period.
  • There is no carryover of EPSL into the following calendar year, and employers are not required to pay out unused leave upon an employee’s separation from employment.
  • Employers must pay EPSL to employees in addition to any other leave benefits the employer offers, and employers may not require employees to use any other leave before using EPSL.
  • If an employee uses EPSL to care for himself or herself for reasons (i)-(iii) listed above, employers must pay the employee his or her regular compensation, up to a maximum of $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate.
  • If an employee uses EPSL to care for a family member or for reasons (iv)-(vi) listed above, employers must pay the employee either two-thirds of his or her regular compensation or the minimum wage, whichever amount is greater. Employers must only pay up to a maximum of $200 per day or $2,000 in the aggregate.
  • Employers must post a notice about leave entitlements in a conspicuous location within the job site; the Department of Labor is expected to publish a model notice for positing on or before March 25, 2020.
  • The Secretary of Labor is permitted to exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees from the EPSL requirements if the Act’s requirements would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”  We are closely monitoring the Department of Labor for announcements about possible exemptions for small employers.

The Act provides employers
some financial relief in the form of tax credits on a dollar-for-dollar basis
for EFML or EPSL payments to employees, subject to certain caps.

In addition to the Act, many
state and local jurisdictions are considering legislation that may supplement
the Act’s leave benefits in response to COVID-19. Employers should confer with
counsel about how state and local laws may augment the leave to which their
employees are entitled.

For some answers to commonly
asked questions regarding how to communicate with staff about COVID-19
challenges, click here.

For additional information
regarding COVID-19 legal issues, please visit Venable’s COVID-19
legal resources page.

The post The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What you need to know appeared first on HR Morning.

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5 ways the COVID-19 crisis will transform HR’s role

Human Resources is at the front lines of employers’ response
to the COVID-19 crisis.

The crisis is forcing almost every business to immediately develop,
adapt or improve remote work policies and procedures.

As HR pros struggle to keep employees safe and informed, it
helps to think about what changes will be more permanent and how you’ll guide
employees and organizational leadership through those changes.

Here are 5 effects that you’ll likely be dealing with long after things return to “normal.”

Remote work will be a permanent feature for more organizations.

And that is a good thing, because, in addition to workers moving to remote temporarily as we weather this crisis, many will continue working remotely at least part of the time after businesses re-open their doors.

Luckily, for most employers, the technology and communications infrastructure needed for successful remote work are available to employees.

But HR needs to start now, collaborating closely with Finance, IT and other departments to develop and implement new rules. Among the questions that need to be addressed:

  • How will managers translate existing work rules, meeting schedules and communications strategies to the new reality?
  • Who will pay for remote workers’ connectivity and any required equipment, like printers, monitors, headset, etc.?
  • How will you recover them if someone quits or is fired?
  • How must job descriptions change to accommodate part- or full-time remote work?
  • How will you monitor and enforce attendance?
  • What HR functions must adapt – talent acquisition and development, discipline, benefits and compensation all introduce their own challenges in a remote work environment.

And in the meantime, HR’s role in monitoring and maintaining morale becomes even more crucial.

It is a good idea to create a formal process for checking in with remote employees to ask how they are dealing with the added stress during the crisis – and to keep on top of any issues after things return to a new normal.

Are they are staying in touch with their colleagues and manager? Do they need anything to help stay productive? Are they aware of available emotional health resources and how to access them?

It will also become clear over the coming weeks what jobs cannot be done effectively offsite. You’ll need to start on contingency plans and work policies for those, as well.

Nurturing culture gets more challenging in dispersed workplaces

Workers and business leaders tell researchers they believe a strong and well-defined organizational culture is critical to long-term success.

It sets the organization’s identity, helps form its mission and gives employees at all levels a sense of identity and purpose in their work.

But culture is also vulnerable in times of crisis when decisions are being made on the fly and financial survival takes priority over almost everything else.

Unfortunately, culture is also impossible to automate – there is no technology solution that can preserve and enhance organizational culture.

Employee engagement, constant communication and demonstrated commitment to your culture by leadership are the only tools that will work.

And workers will detect lip service even when they’re working remotely and will remember it after the crisis passes.

It is hard to put culture at the top of HR’s priority list while you are putting out fires every day. But, if anything, culture is even more important now and can hold your organization together over the long term.

Talent acquisition and retention remains critical

With the dire economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic becoming clearer by the moment, companies and whole industries are laying off workers and freezing hiring.

That may require greater reliance on contractors and temp workers in the early stages of the eventual recovery. But companies’ reputations among the candidates you’ll need longer term will depend on how they are treated during this crisis.

That may mean hiring some employees back as 1099 contractors in the short term or helping them sign on with temp agencies.

Even in the midst of this uncertainty and turmoil, however, it’s a good idea to keep your talent pipeline full and maintain contact with prospective rehires and new hires.

Engaging a remote workforce

Keeping employees engaged, enthused and productive is one of HR’s most valuable roles and, often, one of your team’s superpowers.

And research makes it clear that employees who feel that their physical and emotional wellbeing is a real priority for the organizations they work for are more engaged.

That translates into real money.

Two decades of Gallup research shows that highly engaged teams:

  • produce substantially better outcomes
  • treat customers better and attract new ones
  • are more likely to remain with their organization than those who are less engaged

Engaged employees are also healthier, Gallup reports, and less likely to experience burnout.

You can show workers at home you are committed to their wellbeing by adjusting benefits.

A great immediate step is to reduce or eliminate copays for telehealth visits. If you don’t already include mental health consultations as part of your telehealth plan, add it now.

And, with financial stress impacting almost every employee, it is a good time to investigate options like daily pay, subsidized loans, and free access to financial education webinars.

Loyalty to your workers amid unprecedented stress and confusion will come back to you through their ongoing loyalty and dedication to your mission.

Accommodation and compliance

With the number of people working remotely exploding, employers face new policy issues and, potentially, very real employment law concerns.

Potential compliance issues include:

  • Permitted employer actions under the ADA, FMLA, Title VII and other federal and state statutes and regulations
  • The important ADA concepts of “disability-related inquiries,” “medical examinations,” “direct threat,” “undue hardship, and other similar terms
  • Leave policies and FMLA requirements
  • Acceptable teleworking arrangements to protect employees

You’ll need to keep track of all the new requirements in new laws coming out of congress, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that takes effect on or by April 2, 2020.

Taking effective action requires leaders to conduct advanced planning and make strategic management decisions, all of which will rely heavily on the advice and insight only HR can provide.

Additional resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for HR Professionals. Keeping yourself and your team educated and informed during times of uncertainty is important. To help, we’ve compiled the need-to-know resources regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) – how to keep yourself and your team safe, managing remote employees, and more.

Coronavirus & Remote Work: Pivoting from Bricks to Clicks, on Monday, March 30 at 1 PM. Join internationally-recognized business consultant Michelle Coussens to get tools and information to help your organization make the leap from having employees work in the office to working remotely from home – while minimizing downtime and anxiety and maximizing productivity.

Coronavirus & Influenza: Obligations Under FMLA, ADA, Title VII & More, on Tuesday, March 31 at 1 PM. Please join Dr. Jim Castagnera, labor and employment attorney as he explains what employee-related actions the ADA, FMLA, and other relevant federal regulations permit employers to take before, during, and in the aftermath of an outbreak.

Coronavirus in the Workplace: Employers’ Duty to Protect Employees, available on demand. Join Adele L. Abrams, Esq., a nationally recognized authority on Occupational Safety and Health law for this 60-minute program explaining what OSHA requires from employers, and steps you can take to protect workers.

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5 easy ways to do a mental spring cleaning

The pandemic has changed how we do business, and created a lot of stress and anxiety.

As HR pros scramble to manage their chaotic days, it’s important not to forget some of the basics, especially those annual rituals that help bring a welcome sense of routine and normalcy.

After all, it is springtime, and that means it’s also a great time to do a “mental spring cleaning”.

Organize your mind

As a busy HR pro, you always have a hundred different things on your mind. There’s so much on your to-do list, it’s hard to keep track of what takes priority and what can be pushed back for now.

The best way to sort through the mental clutter? Keeping a journal, according to bullet journal creator Ryder Carroll.

Here’s how you can write down all your thoughts and organize
them in a helpful way.

1. Take inventory. Write down everything you need to do, the things you should do and what you want to do.

2. Ask yourself why you’re doing these things. We often get bogged down with unnecessary responsibilities. People get so focused on what they should be doing, they lose sight of whether they want to do these things at all.

3. Check if it’s vital for you or someone you care about. Is this task so important it directly impacts you or someone important to you? If not, it’s just a distraction, and you can cross it off your list.

4. Break down what’s left. Now that you’ve whittled down your list, break down each task into small, manageable steps so it’s not overwhelming.

5. Revise your inventory often. Even just five minutes is enough to check your list and keep everything on track. The more frequently you take stock of all your tasks, the easier it is to stay balanced.

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ADA violation: Company failed to accommodate employee after surgery

When an employee returns to work after getting a kidney transplant, the ADA requires employers to reasonably accommodate them.

One employer didn’t even try to, and ended up in court.

Accommodation requests denied

Michael Fisher worked at Nissan North America when he needed a kidney transplant. He took time off to get the surgery. When Fisher’s leave was up, management told him he could only return to his position without restrictions.

Fisher returned to his job, but found it difficult to
complete as he was still recovering from the surgery. He started having
attendance issues, and Nissan wrote him up.

Fisher was open about his difficulties and requested several
accommodations, including a transfer, extra bathroom breaks or a temporary
part-time schedule. Nissan refused to grant any of his suggestions, and Fisher
was fired for absenteeism.

He sued for disability discrimination, and the 6th Circuit
ruled in Fisher’s favor.

The court said Nissan pressured Fisher to return before he
recovered and refused to accommodate him. The company didn’t participate in the
interactive process either, which is a violation of the ADA.

When a disabled employee has a reasonable accommodation
request, it’s usually best to grant it.

Cite: Fisher v. Nissan North America, 2/27/20.

Additional resources

The Premier Learning Solutions webinar, Coronavirus & Influenza: Obligations Under FMLA, ADA, Title VII & More, on Tuesday, March 31 at 1 PM. Join Dr. Jim Castagnera, labor and employment attorney with 36 years of experience, as he explains what employee-related actions the ADA, FMLA, and other relevant federal regulations permit employers to take before, during, and in the aftermath of an outbreak.

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4 keys to a successful remote work strategy, when you have to close your doors

The COVID-19 emergency is putting unprecedented strains on the global economy and on individual businesses.

Regardless of size, employers are having to adjust to a big change: going from seeing workers on site every day to having most employees working from home.

Getting it right means you’ll minimize downtime, anxiety and lost productivity over the coming weeks through preparation, communication, and implementation.

Challenge and opportunity

But, explains business advisor Michelle Coussens, founder of
Plan B Consulting, moving to a more dispersed workforce that includes both
onsite and remote workers should be more than an emergency response.

That’s because the tools, processes and structures you put in place now can pay off in greater efficiency and flexibility after the crisis passes.

And that will improve your competitive position for years to come.

Steps to take right now

Without a robust plan in place, employers’ ability to
respond is slowed, and they risk creating additional confusion and panic among
both employees and customers.

Work from home prep checklist

  • Cross-train employees
  • Develop a list of critical business functions
    and essential personnel
  • Create and disseminate temporary authority back
    up designations
  • Have a communication tree with updated contact
    information and directions
  • Determine alternative sources of supplies
  • Review insurance policies and opportunities for
    adjustment or enhancement
  • Test your plan through drills/simulations

Specific steps for the current Coronavirus emergency:

  • Encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Conduct workplace deep cleaning, and repeat as
    appropriate
  • Prepare in advance for additional potential
    event cancellations
  • Identify back-up people and processes should
    they become needed
  • Reach out to vendors to coordinate your plans
    with them and be clear on their resources
  • Line up extra resources for when “normal” work
    resumes in order to catch up
  • Establish a daily update protocol, along with a
    number employees can call to speak with an authorized company representative
    about concerns or questions

Setting remote work expectations

For many workers, this crisis will be the first time they have worked remotely for more than a day or two. And managers are just as inexperienced at managing a dispersed workforce they aren’t seeing onsite every day.

That means establishing and enforcing policies and expectations around work hours, deadlines, and attendance at meetings.

The more structure you put in place, especially at the beginning,
the more smoothly operations will run. Once you get everyone settled in and
working relatively well, you can work on how to scale online collaboration and
enhance results.

Keeping connected when working from home

Both your managers and employees need to feel that they are still connected, visible and up-to-date on assignments, deadlines and inevitable changes. According to the Owl Labs 2019 State of Remote Work Report, 14% of remote workers in normal work situations have 10+ meetings per week, including:

  • Standard check-ins
  • Project planning and updates
  • Brainstorming
  • Ad hoc, informal discussions

Those don’t have to be hours-long all-hands meetings. In fact, a quick old fashioned phone call to check-in is often all that is needed.

But some meetings will need to include a large group. Make sure everyone has connections fast enough to keep meetings productive. Provide remote employees with meeting software and hardware (headsets, etc.).

Set remote meeting rules

When everyone is not in the same room, it’s easy to miss details. With everyone at home with family during this crisis, the distractions will be even greater than usual.

To address those issues, Coussens suggests taking these important steps:

  • Allow time at the beginning of the meeting for information socialization/catching up
  • Record meetings and/or take formal minutes and distribute them to everyone afterward
  • Set down firm rules about closing email, social media, and other applications during the meeting (or give meeting leaders the ability to force shutdowns)
  • Get everyone using a shared calendar. That will let meeting organizers consider schedules and time zone implications
  • During the meeting have everyone participate, if only to give a quick yes or no opinion on a proposal

Fostering innovation when employees are working from home

Collaboration tools are critical to keeping your team’s
creativity flowing. Shared electronic white boards, online simulations, joint
training sessions across multiple teams are all ways that you can leverage remote
work to help your team to brainstorm, share learning, and learn about each
other.

Leadership needs to make sure they have the tools, training, and time needed.

Also, set expectations that your team will continue collaborating regularly. Follow up to make sure they know how to access and use the tools available.

All of those moves will pay dividends now and after the
crisis has passed, helping create productive habits and increasing your
employees’ flexibility.

For more information on remote work

Coronavirus & Remote Work: Pivoting from Bricks to Clicks, on Monday, March 30 at 1 PM. Join internationally-recognized business consultant Michelle Coussens to get tools and information to help your organization make the leap from having employees work in the office to working remotely from home – while minimizing downtime and anxiety and maximizing productivity.

Additional resources

Coronavirus & Influenza: Obligations Under FMLA, ADA, Title VII & More, on Tuesday, March 31 at 1 PM. Please join Dr. Jim Castagnera, labor and employment attorney as he explains what employee-related actions the ADA, FMLA, and other relevant federal regulations permit employers to take before, during, and in the aftermath of an outbreak.

Coronavirus in the Workplace: Employers’ Duty to Protect Employees, available on demand. Join Adele L. Abrams, Esq., a nationally recognized authority on Occupational Safety and Health law for this 60-minute program explaining what OSHA requires from employers, and steps you can take to protect workers.

The post 4 keys to a successful remote work strategy, when you have to close your doors appeared first on HR Morning.

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