Saturday April 20, 2024
 

Court: Worker’s salary and duties clearly exempted him from receiving OT pay

Employers can get into a lot of trouble when they require
employees to do extra work and not compensate them for it.

But in order for it to be an FLSA violation, the employee
has to be eligible for overtime.

No detailed analysis required

Daniel Smith worked as an organ procurement coordinator for Ochsner Health System. He sued his employer, claiming it violated the FLSA and he was owed unpaid overtime.

But after taking a closer look at both his salary and job
duties, a district court ruled that Smith was exempt from overtime, and on
appeal, the 5th Circuit agreed.

First, the court explained Smith’s job included procurement,
which is a duty listed under the FLSA’s administrative exemption – something
which made him ineligible for overtime pay.

The 5th Circuit went on to say a detailed analysis of Smith’s job duties wasn’t necessary due to his salary: $120,000 a year. Smith earned well above the FLSA overtime threshold, making him exempt from OT pay.

Misclassification can be a costly mistake for employers, so
it’s a good idea to double-check all your workers’ pay and duties to ensure
they’re being properly compensated.

Cite: Smith v. Ochsner Health System, 4/17/20.

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Employee with PTSD lashed out at colleagues: Does ADA excuse this?

Disabled employees have certain protections under the ADA, but what happens when their disability causes troubling behavior?

The 1st Circuit examined this question in a recent lawsuit.

Obscene language

Kirstie Trahan, a military vet with PTSD, worked in a call
center at Wayfair. She had issues with the close quarters of her work
environment and experienced PTSD flashbacks. This resulted in Trahan lashing
out at her co-workers, which included the use of obscene language.

HR conducted an investigation into the incident and determined Trahan had violated company policy by failing to treat her colleagues in a “professional manner.” Trahan was then fired for her behavior. She sued, claiming her termination violated the ADA. Trahan also spelled out ways her disability could’ve been accommodated.

But the 1st Circuit ruled in favor of the company. It said
Trahan’s behavior was in violation of Wayfair’s policy and a fireable offense.

As for Trahan’s request for an accommodation after she was
terminated, the court said she never expressed the need for an accommodation
before the incident. It was too late now, the court decided.

If performance issues are caused by a disability, the ADA
generally doesn’t require employers to look past them. However, accommodations
may be necessary depending on the case.

Cite: Trahan v. Wayfair, 4/21/20.

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Steps to prepare for the post-Covid bounce back

HR has never been as important as it has been
during the coronavirus crisis.

Its strength is demonstrating that commercial success can best be achieved by motivating, developing and coaching people, and creating great places to work.

The crisis has unleashed new ways of working and challenges leaders and managers to inspire people they haven’t seen in person for weeks. It has created a more human focus for many businesses as they support people through bereavement, illness, homeschooling, anxiety and maintaining mental well-being.

As the world moves slowly towards a return to work, the challenges will get greater for HR.

  1. Who do you bring
    back to work first, and how?
  2. How do we ensure
    our workplaces are safe?
  3. What do we retain
    in terms of new ways of working that appeal to staff and potentially make us
    more productive?

As we look beyond the short term, here are the three key opportunities that I believe will create great places to work — and that deliver improved performance and greater productivity:

Organizational design

How do we rewire our companies so that we allow people to work flexibly, retaining the work-life balance they desire and need, yet still feel that they belong and are part of the team?

It is clear that a wave of redundancies and
restructuring is in front of us. How do we do this not just with an eye on
reducing cost and being legally compliant, but with more thought as to the
skills, capability and potential we want to not retain and empower?

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to structure work differently, to change the organization’s rules of engagement, break silos and create new operating models which provide both increased efficiency and a more inclusive culture.

The pressure will be on the organisation to act fast but HR leaders need to educate their peers to see this as a moment on reinvention.

Leadership

It has been transparent thoughout the crisis
that we’ve seen both the best and worst of leadership. I’ve talked to HR
Directors and Chief People Officers over the last weeks and months and it’s
clear that the issue of leadership bench strength has become ever more
apparent.

Many leaders and managers have been shown to not have the capability to engage, motivate or inspire the people that work for them. In many HR functions we have recognized this for years but have turned a blind eye if problems weren’t created and tasks got completed.

However, this is now out in the open and we have
to act.  HR facilitates creating great
people management.  But you will never be
able to create a high performance organization if your people leaders are
second rate and just can’t do what’s required.

We need to assess, develop and sometimes remove
the managers who aren’t able to empower and get the best from our people.

Technology

We have not invested enough in this area. At the
start of the crisis we needed data on our people and the majority of business
struggled even to get the basic information about their workforce.

If 60% to 70% of an organization’s cost base is
people, surely having data on this asset is important!

So, we need good systems that can provide the
data that allows us to optimise our performance. Then let’s move on to provide
a great employee experience, where employees are tech-enabled and have the
tools to do the job.

The moment is upon us for HR leaders to grasp this opportunity to make a huge impact on their organizations culture and performance. Let’s not play it safe, let’s reinvent.

The post Steps to prepare for the post-Covid bounce back appeared first on HR Morning.

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How to keep your workforce passionate during this downturn

No matter where employees physically work right now, most
are struggling to stay focused, productive and passionate about their job.

They’re distracted by uncertainty, new or changing responsibilities,
newsfeeds and an unsettling desire to return to normalcy.

On top of all that, there’s work!

And it turns out it’s even harder to focus on work when
they’re remote. Almost 60% of employees say there are too many distractions and
temptations at home, according to a
SmartBriefs poll.

“This means attention management is more important than
ever, not just for our productivity, but for our peace of mind,” says Maura
Thomas, author of Attention Management, in the Harvard Business Review.
“(It’s) about maintaining control of where your attention goes and recognizing
when it’s being stolen.”

If you can get yourself to focus again – and help your workforce do the same – you’ll regain some of that normalcy and passionate employees will help drive productivity.

Try these steps and best practices:

Recognize what distracts you

For those who now work remotely, the distractions are
infinitely different than they were onsite: kids in the background,
homeschooling to be done, chores to be finished, meals to be prepared, etc.

For those still onsite, it’s the increased demand and
nagging consciousness of those around them – Why is Ron coughing so much? Am
I sitting 6 feet from Rory? Who can help me with this when so many people are
out?

And no matter where you work now, there’s the draw of newsfeeds
and social media with round-the-clock updates on how bad things are.

Monitor what distracts you from starting or getting back to
work. Be honest with yourself and consider:

  • What time did I plan on focusing on work, and
    what time did it happen?
  • What did I do in the time between?
  • What caused me to stop being productive?
  • How long did it distract me?
  • Was it necessary to give that distraction
    attention?

How to handle remote distractions

To stay focused on work in a house, Thomas suggests:

  • Adjust your expectations. We all want to
    accomplish as much as we did when we worked together with our colleagues. It’s
    OK to change your expectations and goals – just not the quality of your work –
    based on the new limitations. “Show yourself the same compassion you would show
    someone else in your situation,” says Thomas. Be adaptable to weekly, or even
    daily, challenges and changes.
  • Put up a sign or close a door when you
    can’t be disturbed for up to 60-minute increments. Keep a dry-erase board or
    chalkboard near your boundary so others can write what they need in an
    emergency or a reminder on what they want for when you can take a break and
    address it.
  • List your responsibilities every day in
    order of priority. Focus on the high-priority, high-attention tasks – such as
    writing reports or online collaboration – when you’re least likely to be
    interrupted or distracted. Plan low-priority, low-attention tasks – such as
    cursory web searches or sorting paperwork – for times you’re more likely to be
    distracted.
  • Work in shifts. If there are two adults
    working from home, set a schedule so one can attend to children, homeschooling
    and chores for a couple of hours while the other can work uninterrupted. Then
    switch it up.
  • Schedule double-duty breaks. Take care of
    those nagging chores – laundry, emptying the dishwasher, walking the dog – at
    the same time you’d likely take a break if you were working onsite. The
    physical movement will be rewards for thought-intense work you do while holed
    up in your new, in-home digs. Even better, Thomas suggests you tie the personal
    responsibilities to a work goal. For instance: Once I gather and organize
    the files and screens I need to share in the video conference, I’ll take the
    dog outside for a walk.
  • Book a room. Some hotels
    have started to open up rooms as office space at a special rate on a
    day-to-day basis. With no tourists or business travelers, the hotels offer remote
    workers a proper desk, high-speed internet, a minifridge and practically no
    distractions.

How to handle mental drain

To curb the negative and “what-if” thoughts and regain a
positive and passionate outlook:

  • Be conscious of what you allow in your space.
    Researchers
    have proven the media (and sometimes those around us) exaggerate negative
    news. Focus on positive things and plan work and life toward them. If you’re
    still drawn to the newsfeeds, remember what Fred Roger’s said: When I was a
    boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look
    for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
  • Start and keep a gratitude journal. You’ve
    likely heard of it, and maybe even wanted to start one. Now’s the best time.
    It’s easy, positive and gratifying: Just jot down three good thing about the day.
    Try to include at least one work-related item on your list. It can be as a few
    simple words. For instance, The walk outside, Jane’s laugh, daffodil bloom.
    No need for explanations (unless you want to, of course.)
  • Even better, thank more people more often.
    Let them know how their actions and words positively affect you. It’ll help
    both of you regain a better perspective.

“Your ability to get important work done depends less
on where you work and more on how you work,”
Thomas says.

The post How to keep your workforce passionate during this downturn appeared first on HR Morning.

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New York Return to Work Guidelines

For weeks, many states issued mandatory stay-at-home orders to help combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has outlined a 12-step plan to reopen parts of the state while trying to keep the coronavirus pandemic from flaring up again. The plan centers on keeping the hospital system from becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus cases. It will also require massive testing and tracing systems, isolation facilities for infected patients and monitoring systems.

When New York employers reopen and employees return to work, they are under strict guidelines to keep their people safe onsite. 

It’s a new world, really. And we’re seeing what a new normal looks like.

No more chats around the water cooler with co-workers, unless everyone stays six feet apart, wears a disposable mask and uses hand sanitizer — frequently.

“Leaders must provide government recommended provisions, such as masks, sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as implement social distancing for the wellness and safety of on-site employees,” Deborah Alvord, Senior Director Analyst in Gartner’s Customer service and support practice.

Here’s are the essential steps New York employers must take to assure their people can perform critical roles while staying healthy on the job:

Steps for Safeguarding On-site Employees

Hand-washing

Provide employees access to regular handwashing with soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes and ensure that common areas (including but not limited to break rooms, locker rooms, dining facilities, rest rooms, conference or training rooms) are cleaned on a regular basis, including between any shifts.

Provide Masks

Provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement to wear masks while on the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC.

Make Space

On-site employees should follow the social distancing six-feet rule and all other CDC guidelines while in the workplace.

No Visitors

Allow only necessary employees in the office. Restrict deliveries – from essential supplies like masks and hand sanitizer.

Meet Remotely

When onsite employees must meet – for shift huddles, brainstorming, etc. –use Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting and Skype For Business.

Redesign

Add partitions where needed and raise cubicle walls. Add plexiglass dividers in common areas, such as the break room, so people can still sit six feet apart and interact safely. In more open-space areas, such as manufacturing and warehousing facilities, mark six-foot positions with brightly colored duct tape so employees always have a sense of a safe distance to maintain from each other.

Make Sure Your Workplace Stays Compliant

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Department of Labor issued the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or extended FMLA leave for reasons related to COVID-19.

The FFCRA poster must be posted in a conspicuous area. You can shop the required poster here:

  • 2020 FFCRA: Employer Paid Leave Requirements
  • 2020 FFCRA: Federal Employer Paid Leave Requirements

Additionally, New York is required to post their specific labor law posters.

After COVID-19: Getting Your Business & People Back On-track
Tuesday, May 26th, 1PM | Live & On-Demand

Join our 60-minute program, led by Michelle Coussens, to learn how to restore business operations and help your team resume activities  – while leveraging recent lessons learned. We’ll discuss how to:

  • Restore business operations after full or part-time shut down
  • Transition your remote workers back on-site
  • Prepare for a potential resurgence of the virus or other potential crises
  • Incorporate lessons learned from the current crisis and keep the advances going

Sign up here.

The post New York Return to Work Guidelines appeared first on HR Morning.

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Rhode Island Return to Work Guidelines

For weeks, many states issued mandatory stay-at-home orders to help combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said Phase One of the state’s new plan to start easing restrictions on some businesses and social gatherings would start May 9.

The first phase, titled “Testing the Waters,” would allow some business and social activity to resume while keeping “significant restrictions” in place.

When Rhode Island employers do reopen and employees return to work, they are under strict guidelines to keep their people safe onsite. 

It’s a new world, really.

No more chats around the water cooler with co-workers, unless everyone stays six feet apart, wears a disposable mask and uses hand sanitizer — frequently.

“Leaders must provide government recommended provisions, such as masks, sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as implement social distancing for the wellness and safety of on-site employees,” Deborah Alvord, Senior Director Analyst in Gartner’s Customer service and support practice.

Here’s are the essential steps Rhode Island employers must take to assure their people can perform critical roles while staying healthy onsite:

Steps for Safeguarding On-site Employees

Hand-washing

Provide employees access to regular handwashing with soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes and ensure that common areas (including but not limited to break rooms, locker rooms, dining facilities, rest rooms, conference or training rooms) are cleaned on a regular basis, including between any shifts.

Provide Masks

Provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement to wear masks while on the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC.

Make Space

On-site employees should follow the social distancing six-feet rule and all other CDC guidelines while in the workplace.

No Visitors

Allow only necessary employees in the office. Restrict deliveries – from essential supplies like masks and hand sanitizer.

Meet Remotely

When onsite employees must meet – for shift huddles, brainstorming, etc. –use Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting and Skype For Business.

Redesign

Add partitions where needed and raise cubicle walls. Add plexiglass dividers in common areas, such as the break room, so people can still sit six feet apart and interact safely. In more open-space areas, such as manufacturing and warehousing facilities, mark six-foot positions with brightly colored duct tape so employees always have a sense of a safe distance to maintain from each other.

Make Sure Your Workplace Stays Compliant

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Department of Labor issued the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or extended FMLA leave for reasons related to COVID-19.

The FFCRA poster must be posted in a conspicuous area. You can shop the required poster here:

  • 2020 FFCRA: Employer Paid Leave Requirements
  • 2020 FFCRA: Federal Employer Paid Leave Requirements

Additionally, Rhode Island is required to post their specific labor law posters.

After COVID-19: Getting Your Business & People Back On-track
Tuesday, May 26th, 1PM | Live & On-Demand

Join our 60-minute program, led by Michelle Coussens, to learn how to restore business operations and help your team resume activities  – while leveraging recent lessons learned. 

We’ll discuss how to:

  • Restore business operations after full or part-time shut down
  • Transition your remote workers back on-site
  • Prepare for a potential resurgence of the virus or other potential crises
  • Incorporate lessons learned from the current crisis and keep the advances going

Sign up here.

The post Rhode Island Return to Work Guidelines appeared first on HR Morning.

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Coronavirus and the ADA: EEOC expands Return to Work guidance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has added details to its
guidance document, “What
You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other
EEO Laws.”

The commission made additions and changes to the section laying out Return to Work rules.

It addresses questions employers may have about accommodating employees with underlying medical conditions that may make them higher-risk for Covid-19-related illnesses as they return to on-site work.

The EEOC changed earlier guidance to clarify that the ADA does not allow employers to exclude employees from work locations simply because they have an underlying medical condition that the CDC says might pose a higher risk of severe illness if the individual contracts the coronavirus.

But employers can continue workplace screening and can exclude employees who have COVID-19 or symptoms and pose a direct threat of transmitting the disease to other workers.

However, as EEOC Legal Counsel Andrew Maunz explains in the new document, “Employers must do a thorough direct threat analysis, which includes an individualized assessment based on relevant factors and a determination of whether the threat can be reduced or eliminated through a reasonable accommodation.”

Threat analysis

The ADA direct threat requirement is a high standard.

It requires an employer to show that the individual has a disability that poses a “significant risk of substantial harm” to their own health under 29 C.F.R. section 1630.2(r) before they can be excluded from the workplace.

Under the ADA, such action is not allowed unless the employee’s disability poses a “direct threat” to their health that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation after they return to work.

The guidance indicates that analysis of threat factors should include the
severity of the pandemic in a particular area and the employee’s own health
(for example, is the employee’s disability well-controlled), and particular job
duties.

Analysis should also assess the likelihood that an individual will be exposed to the virus at the worksite. 

Measures you may be taking in general to protect all workers, such as disinfection or mandatory social distancing, are also relevant.

COVID-19 Accommodations

As workers return to work during the COVID-19 crisis, employers must consider whether there are reasonable accommodations that would eliminate or reduce risk so that it would be safe for high-risk employees to return to the workplace AND perform essential job functions.

If not, employers must consider accommodations that don’t require the worker
to be onsite, such as telework, leave, or a job change/reassignment to a location
where it may be safer for the employee to work or can work remotely. 

Identifying effective accommodation depends, among other things, on an employee’s job duties and the design of the workspace. 

Examples of potential accommodations provided by the EEOC’s
new guidance include:

  • Additional or enhanced protective gowns, masks,
    gloves, or other gear beyond what the employer may generally provide
  • Additional or enhanced protective measures, for
    example, erecting a barrier between an employee with a disability and
    coworkers/the public or increasing the space between an employee with a
    disability and others.
  • Elimination or substitution of particular job
    duties not considered “essential” functions of a particular position.
  • Temporary modification of work schedules to decrease
    contact with coworkers and/or the public when on duty or commuting).
  • Moving the employee (for example, moving a
    person to the end of a production line rather than in the middle of it if that
    provides more social distancing).  

The post Coronavirus and the ADA: EEOC expands Return to Work guidance appeared first on HR Morning.

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Performance management based on people not metrics

The technology sector has consistently been ranked as the No. 1 industry with the highest turnover, and it comes down to the one thing that sets digital advertising apart from traditional advertising – metrics.

Metrics and KPIs are important in evaluating employee success, but using only the number of phone calls taken or emails sent often fails to present a full picture of what employees are achieving and the value they bring to the business.

In fact, these statistics and data points often foster
a culture that can promote efficiency and profitability but can hurt the bottom
line in deep and irreversible ways.

Employers are
well advised to ditch the metric-based evaluation approach and instead, opt for
a holistic review of employee performance if they want to create a culture that
empowers their employees and benefits business initiatives.

A zero-sum game

Company
cultures driven by metrics often play to the idea of “winners” and “losers” and
create a zero-sum game. While there are aspects of competitiveness that can be
used for positive motivation and encouragement, many of these zero-sum cultures
can drive employees to hide, rationalize, minimize, or cover up—all to avoid
failure.

This becomes especially complicated when metrics are introduced as a way of measuring this success. For example, if a company begins to measure success based on the number of customers an employee speaks to over the phone per week, the duration of the call, how many customers are onboarded, etc., this can lead to an unconscious realignment of goals that is often in direct conflict with overall business objectives.

Rather
than ensuring that each customer has their questions answered and a full
understanding of how to use the product or service, employees are now being incentivized
to speak to more customers and spend less time on the phone with them. As a
result, the quality of interaction goes down, but the frequency of low-quality interactions
skyrockets.

While
there are metrics that show specific insights into employee performance, it’s
important to remember that these metrics provide a very limited view of
“success”, and a holistic review is going to be far more insightful when
examining overall performance.

It’s worth noting that you can use these
metrics as indicators. Just be sure to combine them with other indicators for an
overall business health score.

Understanding people

Creating a positive company culture that enables your business (and bottom line) to thrive, starts with focusing on the deeper issues connected to how people feel and understanding how that impacts how they behave within a work environment

Cultures based on
a people-first approach enables employees to learn and grow through their
weaknesses, acknowledge shortcomings, and grow rather than unconsciously
expending energy to meet KPIs—many of which can often be misleading when it
comes to demonstrating actual value.

Understanding how
employees feel, and how they make others feel (both internally and externally)
can often prove to be more valuable than what is it they know.

There are three
central ideas that need to be considered when building a culture based on
people rather than numbers:

Invest in them and
they will invest in your clients

Understanding
and investing in employees’ goals and passions are an integral part of building
a company culture based on people rather than metrics. When employees feel that
their needs are being met, and that their goals and dreams are aligned with the
company’s overall success, they can focus their energy on making those goals a
reality.

Allow for learning

A key
tenant of creating a people-first culture is understanding that employees are,
in fact, human. Humans make mistakes, and employees will too. Allow for
learning experiences and reward those that make mistakes and then bounce back
with new solutions and stronger experience. Sometimes failure can be just as
important as success when it comes to learning and growing as a team. By establishing a non-punitive culture,
a company can then truly foster teamwork where employees learn from their
experiences in a positive way. The team then desires to improve, using creative
problem solving to ensure other team members avoid similar pitfalls.

Open and Honest
Communication

Providing and encouraging open communication, honest feedback, and complete transparency is an essential part of driving a successful culture that puts people first. In order to empower employees to achieve, they need to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and what is expected of them, along with the freedom to share their ideas and opinions with managers and team members. Team members must feel enabled to provide feedback to their leadership in a respectful way so that the business can not only serve its clients, but team members too.

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Keeping a strong culture in the age of forehead temperature checks

Everyone is anxiously waiting to go back to the office and get back to work.  At the same time, we are also afraid that getting back to our old way of life is not safe yet.

The new normal of coming together requires precaution so we do not spread the disease all over again. According to the research done by the World Economic Forum, “there is no returning to normal after COVID-19 but there is a path forward”.

We need to change our past normal order of action and governments businesses and individuals will need to behave in a way that we find a way to balance employee safety (avoiding the possibility of new flare-ups) with the needs of the business.

To keep each other safe, most countries are recommending the following behavior of employees returning to work together in one space

  1. A daily temperature check to make sure we
    don’t have a fever and are not developing something. If we do have one, best
    practice would be to stay home
  2. Wearing a mask in public places to protect
    ourselves and to protect others from us. It is in agreement by experts that wearing a
    mask can help us prevent the spread of the disease.
  3. According to the FDA,
    constantly washing our hands and being extra careful with personal hygiene
  4. Disinfecting shared spaces, desks, and
    furniture to make sure we don’t get infected by mistake.

Temp check vs. worker rights

Keeping each other safe requires everyone to have a social responsibility and make sure to the best of their ability that they are healthy when they come to work. Employees should be able to check their temperature in private. 

Logistics may dictate taking employees’ temperature upon arrival at work, still checking should be in private and the identity of employees with fevers should be kept confidential. Managers should be aware, sensitive to this situation, and lead by example.

Some companies have also developed mini mobile apps that allow employees to check their temperature themselves and report them in the app.  Their reporting in the app or on paper is a claim that this was their temperature reading before coming in to work. 

We believe trusting your employees to report themselves will help implement other social considerations required and enhance the trust and mutual respect teammates have for each other in the workplace.

Not only do we believe teamwork is required to meet our business and career goals, we believe teamwork is required to adhere to healthy social responsibility for personal hygiene. 

This guide provided by SHRM covers the official directive given to employers.

Pandemic hygiene & culture

Hibob’s
research has found that 77%
of employees feel corporate culture is extremely important, and making
sure your company culture and employee engagement are not hurt by weeks of
remote work and these new requirements is a challenge.

On
the one hand, companies do not want to ignore regulations and need to maintain
a healthy work environment. On the other hand, companies don’t want to create
additional stress and tension regarding these new regulations. Flexibility is
the key to making people feel comfortable, and flexible schedules can be
organized in many ways.

  1. Employees can come back to work in stages.
  2. Employees can come back to work in shifts.
  3. Business travel that is not critical can be postponed for now.
  4. Employees should be advised to wear masks and disposable gloves, when relevant.
  5. Companies can allow employees to continue to work at home.

Trust in a safe environment

Communicate
clearly how you will be protecting everyone and keeping them safe. Explain the
measures you will be taking and show how the workspace has been changed to
accommodate the safety measures we need.

  1. Implement extra cleaning methods for the facilities to comply with strict hygiene methods
  2. Hold only smaller meetings for in-person, allowing larger groups to meet via video conferencing even while being in the office.
  3. Limit visitors to the office and require temperature checks and travel history
  4. Increase the physical distances between workspaces – see how you can change the workspace set up so everyone has a larger distance from each other.

HR tech can help

We have seen 143% growth in social media workplace communications during these WFH times. This tremendous growth was created by employees using tech to help them overcome WFH isolation.

Slack, MS Teams, digital project management tools, and communication tools on HR tech tools all helped employees and managers maintain communications and keep the culture alive.

During physical social isolation, teammates kept close by acknowledging hard work that was done and updating each other. HR leaders and managers used polls and surveys to get feedback and understand how people are doing.

Don’t ignore your tech tools and keep using them even now, when some employees are coming back and some are still working from home or on another shift. Take advantage of the WFH habits that were created.

Organize volunteer action

HR
can make coming back to work meaningful in many ways. It is beneficial not to
ignore the outside world; during these unprecedented times, people want to find
ways to help others and give back. HR leaders can facilitate volunteering
activities to engage employees.

The best groups or clubs created are the ones created bottom-up so HR can suggest and build the new clubs using HR tech, but the actual activities should be suggested by team members and create that feeling of solidarity.

Creating clubs and acknowledging people’s need to help others will enhance company culture and make working for your company even more meaningful during these times.

With all the regulations, precautions, and health concerns from the pandemic, many people are hesitant to come back to their offices, use public transportation, and go back to the way things were only a couple of months ago.

This is a time for flexibility. Employers need to continue to keep in touch with people in and out of the office with the same digital tools they used while the employees were working from home. Finally, providing  employees a way to give back and help others will make coming back to work meaningful in so many ways.

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5 keys to keeping it together when we’re all working apart

In the two months since stay-at-home orders took effect
across the country, we’ve all wondered whether this is the new normal.

Who knows! But what’s certain is remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future – likely until Labor Day and beyond – and so this pandemic will continue to have a big impact on everyone’s mental health.

Mental stamina

The challenge of working from home every day can be taxing
on everyone at your organization.

After two months at home, some employees will be experts at getting their jobs done – others will be at their wit’s end.

It’s going to take a great deal of mental stamina for you
and your team to continue pushing through, and psychologist Darrin Grelle,
principal research scientist for SHL, has some great remote work strategies you
can pass along to your team to help everyone get through this.

1. Separate

If you have a home office or other private room with a door,
work from there, Grelle says. Of course, many don’t have this luxury. Instead
of a room, designate a specific area for you to work in.

Your area can be as simple as a spot at the kitchen table or
a cushion on your couch. The idea is to have a separate physical space dedicated
to work – this will help you to form a mental separation between your work life
and your home life.

If you need to do something non-work related during the day,
leave your designated work space to do it. This will also help you gain
awareness  of how much time you’re
spending on other activities, Grelle says.

2. Connect

A lot of important socialization and relationship building
happens in the workplace. Take that away, and employees might find themselves
running out of steam.

To stay connected with everyone, take advantage of the chat
system your organization uses, and say hi to those who are available. Your
colleagues are likely just as eager for some conversation.

Virtually chatting with your co-workers will help break up
the day, facilitate idea sharing and relieve stress, Grelle says.

3. Disconnect

Working from home can cause you to lose track of time. With
everyone at your company on different at-home schedules, it can be tricky to
know when to log off and call it a day. With your laptop readily available, you
might find yourself working late and checking emails constantly.

This is a recipe for burnout. According to Grelle, it’s
essential to have a firm start and stop time while working at home. And when
it’s time to sign off, shut your computer down and don’t turn it back on until
the next day.

4. Get dressed

Many might be tempted to stay in their pajamas all day, but
this can make it difficult to fully engage in your work. Grelle says it’s
important to put on something other than pjs.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should be putting on skirts
or ties – but getting up, getting dressed and settling into your work area will
give you a sense of much needed normalcy.

5. Keep moving

Working from the comfort of your home makes it a lot easier
to stay seated for much longer than you would in your office chair, which isn’t
good.

It’s important to get up frequently and keep your blood
pumping. Walk around, do some stretches – even a small amount of activity will
help you refocus and concentrate.

The post 5 keys to keeping it together when we’re all working apart appeared first on HR Morning.

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