HR During Times of COVID
Updated: Jul 26
How has COVID changed the workplace for employers and employees? Does COVID mean that employees have different rights now or the same? If you were laid off or furloughed, what do you need to know about this transition? This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Blanco with Small Business PartnHR who works as a small business HR partner and offers a wealth of information that is very applicable during these times. The whole video interview can be found here, however a few of the highlights are covered here today.
There are two parties to considering when discussing human resources (HR), the employer as well as the employee. For employers this is a challenging time to be running a business. You may have happier employees now that they get to work from home and aren’t worried about coworkers getting them sick, but employers still expect work to get done and have to rely more on judging work output as people are less monitored from home. For employees that are coming to work, there are other concerns to address such as keeping their rights under Federal programs such as the Americans with Disabilities Act while balancing the need to keep all employees safe. It may be reasonable to allow employees to work from offices that can be shut or to work from home, but it may also be too great of a burden if the company is not able to continue to operate profitably under those constraints.
Some of the take away points that Steve offered to employers is to take this time and make a point to review your employee handbook, policies, values, and guidelines and make sure those policies are communicated appropriately and often to staff. And to also keep in mind that if you treat a single employee in a certain manor, other employees must be offered the same privileges. Last, that employers should keep in mind that now is a great time to hire because you can open up your candidate pool to more people with virtual positions; however, other states or even local municipalities can have their own rules for how employees have to be treated if they reside in that other area. For example, if you hire a virtual assistant that works from a home in California, even if your company is based out of Utah, you must follow California employment laws.
The next area that Steve and I discussed was around employees who may find themselves laid off or furloughed during these times. If you find yourself in either of these situations, he recommends putting in an unemployment application with your state right away. If you have a severance, you may not be eligible for payment until after that forward pay is completed, but it is better to get the program in place earlier because the benefits will most likely not be backdated in the future.
We also talked about the changes that job seekers face today. For starters, the interview process will most likely be entirely remote and can start with a phone call and then lead to a video call. On the video calls, don’t be surprised if multiple people are on the call, or jump on the call as you go, because it is so easy for companies to have individuals join for 5-10 minutes since we are all in front of computers all day. And before you start that process, make sure you are comfortable with the technology. You can download the various video call platforms (Zoom, WebEx, Teams), and have someone get on a call and ask you questions to practice your answers. You can even record that session and look back to see how you did.
There are a few things to consider on potential interviews. First, have a good background visible on your screen and make sure you have limited distractions and noises coming through. Second, make certain you have a good internet connection and considering plugging your computer directly into the router if you do not so that you avoid screen or sound issues. Third, keep in mind that you need a clear image and good sound quality, so depending on your equipment you may want to get a plug-in camera and microphone to keep you presenting well. And fourth, make sure you dress for success and are well groomed even if you are not in person.
For many that find themselves out of work, this may not be something that has happened for years if ever. When considering a resume, you can now use many online resources that will take what you enter and automatically generate the design for a resume. Keep in mind the following things when it comes to resumes: 1) have a professional email address and stay away from firstname.lastname@example.org and stick to email@example.com, 2) if you think there may be questions on your eligibility to work in the US, mention that on the resume, 3) list your address but if it isn’t local and you are moving make sure you note that, 4) contact your references and get them ready if needed, 5) know that keywords are used a lot to find your resume, so look at a job listing and make sure the main words being advertised are ones that you use in your resume, 6) you don’t need a local phone number but make sure it’s listed, and 7) don’t include a photo unless you are applying for positions as a model.
The last thing we talked about is considering social media. Know that employers will most like search for you and may even ask for links to your sites. Make sure everything you want found is findable and hide or delete anything you think could be offensive. Also, consider getting on LinkedIn and using that to network and find new positions. If you apply for a job at a company, try searching for the company to network and see who you know that works there or that used to work there.
The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material, and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the services of Steve Blanco or Small Business PartnHR. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.