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Managing Company Policies in a COVID-19 Workplace

Posted by Leslie Ruhland on May 5, 2020 12:30:00 PM
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Business is not the same today as it was last year. But what about in six months? And how do you manage your company policies in the meantime?



Your company's policies may not be "written in stone" but, for your employees, they provide stability and guidance. But what happens now that workplace dynamics are radically changed because of COVID-19? How do you maintain company policies for an onsite workforce that's now working from home?

In California, as in most other states, restrictions on commerce and wide-spread "stay at home" orders have disrupted the way businesses function and operate. The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented shift in workplace practices.

And this has brought with it an avalanche of unprecedented challenges and concerns.

As an article at Fox Rothschild LLC's website points out,

"It seems like “business as usual” no longer exists, but while employers face an ever-growing number of new compliance issues related to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and federal and state legislation concerning employee leave and benefits, businesses continue to operate, and employers must continue to manage an effective and productive workforce in order to maintain business operations."


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Some Best Practices for Company Policy Changes

The first reality that managers must confront is that policies can and should be adapted to prevailing circumstances. This does not mean a wholesale overhaul of your company's policy handbook. But it can certainly mean revisiting relevant policies that are now incompatible with your employee's current working situations. 

For those organizations that have had to furlough most or all of their workforce this is, unfortunately, not necessary. However, for a majority of businesses that have most or all employees working remotely, there are key issues that must be adapted to this new workforce dynamic.

Elicit Feedback From Employees

Actively listening to workers about policy questions and concerns can help managers and owners identify and prioritize policies that may need to be adjusted or added. Trying to anticipate these policy change needs is difficult and can be even overwhelming. Just as in "normal" workplace conditions, many policy issues or needs can be addressed as they arise.

Stay Current on the Law

Keep up to date on changes in the laws that affect your employees. These have been ongoing and require that you have the means to monitor the changes. Your policies must be dynamic and fluid in order to ensure that they comply with the law.

Support Your Employees

It's important to identify new and reinforce existing reporting chains and proper lines of employee communication in order to effectively and correctly communicate the changes that affect them. Just as important is reinforcing the status of any changed or new policies. Is it temporary, or is it intended to be in force indefinitely?


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Thinking About the Future of Policies

It's quite likely that one of the unanticipated outcomes of the the COVID-19 pandemic - and the response to it - is that many businesses may not return to a "business as usual" model. 

A recent article at The HR Director magazine noted,

"For a number of years, technological developments have been making working from home more possible, even preferable, unknowingly preparing us for this challenge. A recent survey by LinkedIn found that 82 per cent of working professionals would like to work from home for at least one day per week, while 62 per cent of organisations worldwide currently have a flexible workspace policy, according to IWG. It’s possible that the number of people now having to work from home could act as a catalyst for accelerated change, shifting the way we think about “going” to work."

The new reality for many California businesses is that the unplanned relocation of their workforce may have been the catalyst for a earlier shift that was already in making. Consequently, owners and HR managers should view any "intermediate" policy changes and adaptations as potentially permanent.

While not every employee would prefer to work remotely, the new work-from-home or WFH movement has taken an unexpected quantum leap and technology now exists to make it feasible. Video and meeting technology, for example, has evolved dramatically over the last five years or so allowing almost seamless "face-to-face" meetings, albeit virtually.

Forbes magazine observed that,

"But despite a surge in virtual meetings, a new Doodle survey of 300 HR professionals found that they are ill-prepared to transition to a fully virtual recruitment and onboarding model amidst COVID-19. The findings showed remote meeting tools are the lowest priority in HR budgets. And HR professionals are struggling to make remote workers feel like part of the team but find it difficult to integrate remote workers into company culture."

Communication, fostering company culture, and reshaping policies and procedures are the main keys to a successful transition to what may indeed become the "new normal" for many California businesses.

Your Partners for Remote Workforce Management

HR staff have a growing and demanding role in recruiting, hiring, and continually training employees. In addition, they are responsible for other functions such as employee development, payroll management,  employee records compliance, and managing employee benefits.

Outsourcing is increasingly becoming a cost-effective and strategic option. Accuchex can help you in managing your HR needs, payroll processes, and staying on top of compliance demands.

Get your Free Download: Payroll Outsourcing Guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.


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Topics: policies and procedures, policy manuals, remote workforce, coronavirus, COVID-19

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