Posted on / Updated on / in Employee Handbook & Employment Policies & HR Strategy /

Updating your HR strategy for Changes from COVID-19

We’ve already experienced a lot of unexpected changes from COVID-19, but now we’re out of excuses. The pandemic has been around in the US a few months short of a year, and we need to make sure we include it in our plans since it doesn’t look like it’s going away for a while. Many of the changes we make to our HR strategies will still be in place after we “go back to normal,” too.

Remote working policies

Working from home has worked well for a lot of companies across a variety of industries. It seems like remote working will continue to be a big part of our work lives. In many cases, employee productivity is increased when working from home and it is likely that this trend is here to stay. From an HR standpoint, a formal remote working policy is a necessity at this point. You need to figure out what is best for your business and build your policies from there.

This new, formal policy does not have to entirely replace your current policies, but rather complement them. For example, many of the same rules that you have for in-office workers would still apply to remote workers. This could include things like performance can’t suffer when working from home, scheduling the right number of hours, and more.

Our team has put together an HR Forms Toolkit with sample policies, forms and company memos to help you navigate COVID-19. Download it free here.

Updating sick leave policies to accommodate COVID-19

Since COVID-19 is still hanging around, our sick leave policies need to reflect the possibility of contracting the virus or being exposed to it. New sick leave policies should be more flexible and consistent with health regulations, while still complying with state and local laws. This could mean increasing sick-day allotment and making the process easier for employees who need to stay home.

Quarantining for a number of days is a large aspect of this pandemic, whether you are experiencing symptoms or not. Your sick leave policies should reflect this. Keep in mind, that getting sick or having to quarantine due to exposure often does not come with advanced notice. Your employees need to be able to move seamlessly from in-office to remote work if they are still able to. Some employees, however, may not have the liberty of working from home, in which case your sick leave policy should allow for time off when these employees are required to stay home.

In case you haven’t come across it yet, we have put together several resources for COVID-19 here. Be sure to check it out for more tips, updates, sample policies and more.

How to adjust your culture if you go fully or partially remote

With remote work, it is a lot more difficult to get a true sense of the culture of a company. Here are a few ways to adjust your culture to a more virtual setting.

Avoid burnout and increase engagement. Encourage mental health breaks and working only during working hours. It’s easy to “take work home with you” when work is right there, but burning out will only cause a decrease in productivity and an increase in unhappy employees. Loneliness can also creep in when you’re not around the same people every day. One way to boost communication is to encourage engagement on online platforms. Don’t forget to have fun every once in a while, too!

Find the routines that work for your company and employees. Everyone works a little differently, especially when they’re all in different settings. Allowing flexibility and making changes when a structure isn’t working makes employees feel valued and helps them find what is going to work for your company.

Think about new ways to integrate your core values into this new setting. You may already have established a mission statement and core values as part of your company’s culture. Just because things work differently with remote workers, doesn’t mean that you have to come up with new values. You can find new ways to integrate your same mission and values.

Understand the leadership changes. There is a lot of trust when it comes to working remotely and leadership in your company needs to focus on trusting your employees to do their jobs well while supporting productivity and seeking results. Results are a key element of remote working, rather than productivity and office etiquette. Leadership, though, still needs to be available to your employees, so they don’t feel abandoned from a lack of communication.

Ensure your employees are aware of your virtual culture goals. Building a virtual company culture for your employees isn’t going to work if they aren’t aware of it. Employees should exemplify your core values, even remotely, and take advantage of a positive work environment.

Culture is always a work in progress, and even those companies with a super culture and work environment do well to review and evaluate from time to time. We have a great, new culture training program now available that you may want to check out, especially if you are considering a new remote work culture. Contact us for more information. 

Understanding how healthcare and benefits play a role

Planning benefit packages for the next year comes with new challenges in the wake of the pandemic. For example, more and more healthcare plans will include telehealth options, greater mental health support, expanding voluntary benefits, and increased cost-sharing. Other areas, like retirement plans and paid time off, may also change. COVID-19 affects every aspect of our work lives and we need to be prepared for that.

If you’re looking ahead and wondering how the pandemic might affect your HR strategy, Integrity HR is here to help you work it all out. We are dedicated to improving your company’s productivity and profitability, reduce your risks, and give you the opportunity to do what you do best – make your company great!

Need assistance with updating your strategy in light of COVID-19? Our HR consultants are here to help you. Get started today.

Budgets are tight. What are you doing to help your bottom line?
Top 5 Reasons HR Outsourcing Improves Your Bottom Line

Our team talked to business leaders who have taken the step to outsource HR and provided real world insights and learnings in this free resource. Learn more about how HR Outsourcing can impact your bottom line, and see if it is a good fit for your business.

New call-to-action

about the author: Integrity HR

Integrity HR's human resources blog is filled with expert advice (and sassy commentary) on those everyday employment issues that give business owners and managers HR headaches. From tips on how to retain key employees to how to write your dress code policy, our blog has all the HR resources you need.