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  • 26 Mar 2020 8:16 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    In observance of Equal Pay Day (March 31, 2020), PayScale has updated our tremendously popular Gender Pay Gap Report for 2020. Since we have started tracking the gender pay gap, the difference between the earnings of women and men has shrunk, but only by an incremental amount each year. There remains a disparity in how men and women are paid, even when all compensable factors are controlled, meaning that women are still being paid less than men due to no attributable reason other than gender. As our data will show, the gender pay gap is wider for women of color, women in executive level roles, women in certain occupations and industries, and in some US states.

    Recently, pay equity has been thrust under a glaring media spotlight. The #MeToo movement of 2018, which began as an outing of sexual harassment and sexual assault, cascaded into analysis of gender inequality in the workplace in 2019, encompassing not only pay inequity but also barriers to advancement and representation of women in leadership. In addition, several high-profile class action lawsuits have made pay equity a hot topic in executive boardrooms across the country.

    Our research shows that the uncontrolled gender pay gap, which takes the ratio of the median earnings of women to men without controlling for various compensable factors, has only decreased by $0.07 since 2015. In 2020, women make only $0.81 for every dollar a man makes.

    The controlled gender pay gap, which controls for job title, years of experience, industry, location and other compensable factors, has also decreased, but only by $0.01 since 2015. Women in the controlled group make $0.98 for every $1 a man makes.

    New to the gender pay gap report for 2020 is analysis on the impact of lost wages on lifetime earnings. By calculating presumptive raises given over a 40-year career, we find that women in the uncontrolled group stand to lose $900,000 on average over a lifetime. Lost earnings narrow to $80,000 for the controlled group, but this is still significant, especially if you consider how lost earnings due to the gender pay gap would grow with compound interest if invested each year for 40 years.

    To illustrate the importance of the gender pay gap in more detailed terms, we also looked at the top 20 jobs with the highest gender pay gap. Here, the gender pay gap ranged from $0.83 (Anesthesiologists) to $0.90 (Sales Representatives) for the controlled group, showing that the gender pay gap is very real and larger for women in certain occupations.


    For the full article, please go to:

    https://www.payscale.com/data/gender-pay-gap


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    Source: PayScale

    https://www.payscale.com/data/gender-pay-gap

  • 25 Mar 2020 1:58 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for nlr national law review logo

    Monday, March 23, 2020

    On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The FFCRA relief package includes two (2) distinct provisions that provide emergency leave to employees: (1) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”); and (2) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”). The provisions of the FFCRA were fine-tuned in a matter of five (5) days, with the expectation that the Department of Labor (“DOL”) will provide clarifying rules shortly following the FFCRA’s effective date of April 2, 2020. Until such time as the DOL clarifies the FFCRA’s provisions, employers are working diligently to interpret the FFCRA’s terms and prepare for implementation. In particular, the public sector is faced with the unpleasant reality that the FFCRA may serve as an unfunded mandate on a local government system that is already underfunded. This Q & A overview seeks to provide further clarification and guidance to local governments as they implement the provisions of the FFCRA while continuing to provide effective and efficient services to their constituents.

    General Questions Regarding the FFCRA

    Continue reading this article at: 

    https://www.natlawreview.com/article/new-leave-entitlements-under-ffcra-issues-unique-to-public-sector-covid-19-resource

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    Source: The National Law Review

  • 25 Mar 2020 1:53 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image

    BY WORLDATWORK STAFF | MARCH 25, 2020

    As employers continue to navigate the uncertain terrain in a COVID-19 world, WorldatWork is collecting data throughout the week to gain a better understanding of how organizations are handling compensation decisions.

    Hazard pay (incentives and spot bonuses) for employees who are required to work on-site during the pandemic has been a point of particular interest for organizations across the globe. WorldatWork’s “COVID-19 Quick Polls” survey of 267 organizations found Tuesday that 65% are not planning on offering extra pay, but instead will provide perks such as meals and daycare options, while 9% have nothing planned.

    26% of surveyed employers said they are planning to provide hazard pay. Of those, 9% will offer a cash incentive that is a flat dollar amount, 8%  will give cash incentives tied to hours and shifts worked and 9% will give cash incentives that are based on a different formula, such as a percentage of salary.

    NOTE: Hazard pay means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship. Work duty that causes extreme physical discomfort and distress that is not adequately alleviated by protective devices is deemed to impose a physical hardship. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not address the subject of hazard pay, except to require that it be included as part of a federal employee’s regular rate of pay in computing the employee’s overtime pay.

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    WorldatWork’s, “COVID-19 Quick Polls” found on Monday that 57% of organizations have already paid or still plan to pay out salary increases in 2020. However, 19% of 238 employers said they are waiting to decide on whether they will pay out salary increases and 17% said they are cancelling salary increases in 2020.

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    When it comes to bonus payouts for the 2019 plan year, which are typically paid out in early 2020, 67% of organizations said they have paid or still plan to pay out bonuses in 2020. Some companies are exercising caution, though, as 16% said they are waiting to decide whether they will pay out bonuses and 8% said they are cancelling bonuses in 2020.

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    Source: WorldatWork

    https://www.worldatwork.org/workspan/articles/how-organizations-are-handling-rewards-and-hazard-pay-decisions-in-a-covid-19-world

  • 24 Mar 2020 12:19 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    AUTHOR: Jennifer Carsen | PUBLISHED: March 23, 2020

    Dive Brief:

    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom has suspended the usual notice requirements of the Cal-WARN Act amid the coronavirus crisis that is forcing many businesses to close on short notice. 
    • In a March 17 Executive Order (EO), Newsom suspended — retroactive to March 4th through "the end of this emergency" — the notice provisions for any employer ordering a mass layoff, relocation or termination at a covered business when the closure was caused by unforeseeable business circumstances related to COVID-19.
    • California employers covered by the EO are still required to provide the required written notices, provide as much notice as possible and explain why the notice period was shortened. They also must now include a statement that affected workers may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

    Dive Insight:

    The federal WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more employees (usually excluding those who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months and those who work less than 20 hours a week on average) to provide at least 60 calendar days' advance written notice of a plant closing or mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site.

    The law provides some exceptions, including when layoffs occur due to natural disasters or at the conclusion of a temporary project. Additionally, notice is not generally required if a layoff is for 6 months or less, or if work hours are not reduced 50% in each month of any six-month period.

    In addition to information for employers, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers a WARN resource for workers. Notably, ​"although ... employers may take solace in the 'unforeseeable business circumstances' exception within the federal WARN Act regulations — for which COVID-19 likely qualifies — not every state has the same exception," according to a Squire Patton Boggs blog post.

    Many states, including California, have their own so-called mini-WARN laws that provide workers with greater protections than federal law. Employers must ensure they meet the notice requirements of both state and federal law when they lay off workers.

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/california-relaxes-notice-requirements-for-coronavirus-related-layoffs/574544/

  • 24 Mar 2020 12:17 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR: Ryan Golden | PUBLISHED" March 24, 2020

    Dive Brief:

    • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will observe a "temporary period of non-enforcement" after the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) takes effect April 2, according to an agency statement.
    • The non-enforcement is in effect as long as the employer "has acted reasonably and in good faith" to comply with the law.
    • "For purposes of this non-enforcement position, 'good faith' exists when violations are remedied and the employee is made whole as soon as practicable by the employer, the violations were not willful, and the Department receives a written commitment from the employer to comply with the Act in the future," DOL said.

    Dive Insight:

    The news is a crucial piece of information for U.S. employers with fewer than 500 employees, which are directly affected by the FFCRA. While it will sunset on December 31, the FFCRA is the first federal paid leave law encompassing private employers in U.S. history.

    DOL's announcement provides some temporary relief for small businesses, many of which face uncertainty as to how they will be able to afford to pay out the FFCRA's emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave and paid sick leave.

    Presumably, however, an employee of a private entity with 50-499 employees could sue his or her employer for an emergency violation of the FFCRA's emergency FMLA leave, Fisher Broyles partner Eric B. Meyer told HR Dive in an email. According to the statute, only DOL can bring action against employers with fewer than 50 employees that violate the FFCRA's FMLA provision, he said.

    Because the FFCRA's paid sick leave provision is enforceable under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee could assert a claim under that provision without DOL, Meyer added.

    Employers with fewer than 25 employees are exempt from the emergency FMLA leave's job protection requirement, provided the following conditions are met:

    • An employee takes emergency leave as provided under the FFCRA.

    • The leave-taking employee's position is eliminated due to "economic conditions" or other changes that affect the employer's operations resulting from the public health emergency.

    • The employer makes "reasonable efforts" to restore the employee to a position equivalent to the position the employee held when leave commenced, with equivalent pay, benefits and other terms and conditions.

    • If those "reasonable efforts" fail, the employer makes an effort to contact the employee if an equivalent position becomes available, within a contact period spelled out in the bill.

    DOL may create exemptions from both leave provisions, with similar circumstances for each. For the emergency FMLA leave, it may exempt via regulation (a) healthcare providers and emergency responders; and (b) small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the law's requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business. It is granted identical power with respect to the paid sick leave.

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/dol-to-observe-30-day-temporary-non-enforcement-of-coronavirus-paid-leave/574700/

  • 24 Mar 2020 12:10 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    BY ELIZABETH C. TIPPETT - 3/13/2020

    The spread of COVID-19 is leaving workers in the U.S. scrambling to figure out what happens to their jobs–and their pay–if it prevents them from reporting to work.

    Editor’s note: Lawmakers are debating a coronavirus relief package that could include emergency paid leave benefits for all workers affected by the pandemic. Meanwhile, the spread of COVID-19 is leaving workers in the United States scrambling to figure out what happens to their jobs–and their pay–if it prevents them from reporting to work. The answer will depend on your employer’s policy, the laws of your state, and the reason you will be away. Elizabeth Tippett, who has spent over a dozen years as a workplace lawyer and scholar, offers a primer.

    1. CAN I TAKE TIME OFF IF I GET SICK WITH CORONAVIRUS?

    The first thing to do is figure out whether your company has a sick leave policy.

    Sick leave allows you to be paid while you are away from work due to illness. Sometimes companies have a “paid time off” policy instead of a sick leave policy, in which vacation is combined with sick leave into a bank of time that can be used for either purpose.

    Many sick leave policies are structured to accrue sick leave over time–for example, one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. These hours might roll over from year to year and be capped once you reach a maximum amount. Other times, companies have a lump sum policy, where they award you a fixed amount of sick leave that you can use over the course of the year.

    However, not every company has a sick policy–the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that roughly a quarter of workers have no access to paid sick leave. Still, it’s worth checking whether your workplace is required to offer sick leave under state or local law. Around 10 states, and many additional municipalities, mandate paid sick leave policies.

    There is no federal law requiring sick leave, though House Democrats have proposed a bill to address the coronavirus outbreak that would require companies to make 14 days of paid sick leave available to workers in areas that have been declared a public health emergency. Workers could then use the sick leave if they need to stay home due to illness or quarantine or because their workplace or child’s school has closed. Workers forced to stay home for more than 14 days could apply for additional paid leave benefits from the Social Security Agency, which would provide workers with up to two-thirds of their lost wages after those 14 days.

    2. CAN I TAKE TIME OFF TO CARE FOR A FAMILY MEMBER WITH CORONAVIRUS?

    Here, too, you’ll want to check your company’s sick leave policy.

    Many policies allow workers to use sick time to care for family members that are ill. State sick leave laws frequently require that employers permit workers to use accrued sick leave for caring for family members.

    3. CAN I TAKE TIME OFF IF MY CHILD’S SCHOOL IS CLOSED?

    A few states and municipalities–including MichiganNew JerseySan Diego, and Chicago–anticipated a problem like school closures due to a public health crisis and specifically said sick leave can be used in the event of such emergencies.

    In those states and cities, your employer’s policy should conform to that language.

    Elsewhere, employers tend to design their sick-leave policies around more routine absences and may not include school closures in their policies.

    4. WHAT IF I RUN OUT OF SICK TIME?

    State and municipal sick leave laws generally require only that employers provide a very modest amount of sick time–typically between one and two weeks per year. And if you just started a new job in recent months, you may not have accrued much sick time.

    If you have accrued vacation time, you may be able to use that once your sick leave runs out. Alternatively, sometimes companies officially–or unofficially–let workers take additional time off on an unpaid basis. If you’ve used up your sick leave, you could also try asking if you can have a “negative” sick leave balance, in which you are essentially borrowing from future sick pay accruals, allowing you to continue to receive pay for a limited period of time.

    If you or a family member become seriously ill, you might be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. This leave is available only for workers at companies with more than 50 employees and who have worked there for 12 months or longer. The regulations for the Family and Medical Leave Act state that the “flu” is generally not considered a serious enough condition to qualify for leave, unless “inpatient hospital care is required or unless complications develop.”

    Some states–like California and New York–also have family and medical leave laws that cover a broader range of employees and may provide partial pay. However, these generally require that the employee or the ill family member develop a serious health condition, beyond your average flu symptoms.

    5. CAN I STAY HOME IF I’M WORRIED ABOUT CATCHING COVID-19 FROM COWORKERS?

    Tech companies with hubs in the Seattle area have responded to a coronavirus outbreak in that state by advising or allowing employees to work remotely.

    Some state and municipal sick leave laws authorize employees to use sick leave in the event of “closure” of an employee’s place of business in a public health emergency.

    Otherwise, your best option is to check whether the company has a telecommuting policy that allows remote work. Even so, such policies generally give the company discretion whether remote work is compatible with your job and the needs of the company.

    Failing that, you could try using up any vacation time you’ve accrued. But with tourist hotspotssporting events, and festivals shutting down, it may not be much of a holiday.

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    Source: FastCompany

    https://www.fastcompany.com/90477115/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-sick-leave-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

  • 20 Mar 2020 12:23 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Taxes 2020: April 15 federal tax filing deadline extended to July 15

    Jessica Menton | USA TODAY | 3/20/2020

    The Trump administration will push the income tax filing deadline to July 15 from April 15, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday in a tweet.

    Mnuchin said that at President Donald Trump’s direction “we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.”

    Earlier this week, the IRS had deferred the payment deadline to July 15 but had left April 15 filing deadline in place.

    According to the latest government data available, as of March 13, the IRS has received more than 76 million returns and has issued more than 59.2 million refunds.

    The average refund check was $2,973.

    While the IRS is reportedly going to increase pressure to have states align with the new federal deadline, it is important for people to check with their local government to make sure they do not miss their obligation in their state. 

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    Source: USA Today

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/20/taxes-2020-irs-delay-april-15-tax-filing-deadline-july-15/2883840001/

  • 20 Mar 2020 8:51 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    building a better employee experience

    March 19, 2020

    by Karen Shellenback - Global Products Leader, Analytics and Research, Mercer

    It is official! The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 or coronavirus a pandemic. Organizations around the globe have implemented work-from-home policies as a key way to help reduce COVID-19 contamination vectors. Recently, Google (Alphabet) expanded its work from home directive (for those who are able), beyond Washington state to all of North America. The high-tech company also made this recommendation in Europe. Universities in the US have closed campuses and are providing virtual learning. Airbnb, Microsoft, Apple, the European Parliament, the Mayor of NYC, Marsh & McLennan, and many others have addressed the issue with employees and asked workers, especially the “health-vulnerable” to stay home and work from home, if able.

     

    The watershed has begun. Business operations today are all about continuity during crisis or potential crisis. But are most organizations ready? Are corporate clients fully prepared to leverage flexible work as a strategic approach to mitigating risk? The answer is likely, no … but there are ways to ramp up for success should your leadership require work from home as an emergency measure.

     

    Disaster preparedness, risk mitigation coupled with flexible work practices have not necessarily been top of mind for corporate executives — until now. One of the primary reasons organizations should have a flexibility strategy, policy, and protocol in place is for times such as these. However, our 2019 Mercer TAAP Design of Work research indicates that only 1% of firms have implemented a total “virtual workspace environment” where all team members (employees and/or contingent workers) work virtually from home, satellite offices, or third spaces. Only three in 10 organizations leverage virtual work, either full-time (29%) or as needed (31%). However, now that risk mitigation is setting in, 92% of companies surveyed are planning work from home scenarios in response to potential office closures and 66% report (Mercer COVID-19 survey live results: 3-18-2020) flex policy changes to increase work from home capabilities.

     

    The task may seem monumental for organizations that are now in a position to move from 0 to 100 on the remote work speedometer. Many employees, managers, and organizations will be thrown into new ways of managing, communicating, and delivering in an increasingly very real — virtual reality. The future of virtual work and workers is here in ways many did not conceive of six months ago.

     

    Organizations that have knowledge workers, who can work remotely, are now in the position of gearing up to mitigate further risk and keep business flowing. It is now about deployment and operational readiness and this crisis provides an opportunity for deep insights into what operational, business, and customer service processes are truly necessary to operate effectively and efficiently.

     

    Organizations that have already established remote work protocols and contingency plans are ahead in the game. Need a virtual workplace strategy quick? Here are some key considerations to get moving. These recommendations will set up your organization for continued efficiency and success — today and after this pandemic/health crisis has passed.

     

    1. Create a cross-functional response team.
    This team should include executives from business operations, finance, HR, IT, facilities, occupational health, travel, cyber security, risk, compliance, and legal to strategize and optimize potential operational and risk scenarios. Get ready to plan for multiple and fast-moving contingencies and establish directives for multiple trigger events. Please read COVID-19 – An employer’s guide: Ten considerations to support your workforce for more ideas.

     

    2. Assess which jobs, roles, and tasks can be worked virtually immediately, and as the situation progresses, as well as roles that could continue to work virtually on a more regular basis after the crisis response is over. Challenge the core response team to think differently about what tasks really need to be done on-site and which roles can be worked remotely with the use of new technologies and agile design thinking.

     

    3. The third and critical concern is technology.
    What technology (devices, process, and infrastructure) is needed? —
     Laptops, VPN (virtual personal network), “all in one anywhere access” apps, SaaS cloud platform, video conferencing, smart phones? What percentage of the workforce already has a company issued laptop? Will you require additional laptop purchases or rentals, or can desktops be taken home? Will the company reimburse individual employees for internet access (full or partial)? What is the minimum internet speed required? What about other equipment — headsets, printers, extra monitors, webcams, keyboards, docking stations, office supplies, tablets, chairs, and ergonomic desks? Are any of these items required for certain roles, or all roles, and what is the purchase policy or reimbursement policy on such items? Is there a need for specific technology for accessibility? Clarify in writing what equipment and supplies are owned by the company and which are considered company assets. Also clarify the policy for corporate equipment return upon termination of the remote work agreement.

     

    Budget: What is the budget estimate for the purchase or rental of new required technology? Whose line item will this new remote technology expense fall under?  Can HR or IT negotiate with video conferencing companies if your organization needs additional licenses or access?

     

    Security protocols: Are there additional firewalls, encryption, multifactor authentication systems (MFA) required? Which systems are required and in what timeframe?  As more and more companies allow workers to work from home the risk of attacks may increase. What is the cybersecurity education plan for remote employees? This large group of new users distributed in networks at home will require cyber risk mitigation training.

     

    Office space: Will the organization require dedicated office space, clear of physical hazards? Will the organization require a locked space for client security reasons? Will you establish a policy for dependent care? Normally, many organizations require that remote employees arrange for an outside caregiver or another adult in the home to provide dependent care while working from home. However, in this particular situation the essence of the matter requires flexibility and realistic expectations regarding dependent care. It is likely that employee children will be home from school and older parents may be living with their adult children.

     

    Tech staffing: Is your tech team staffed to install and configure new network security or VPN systems? If new company laptops are issued — do you have the staff to set up quickly (but securely) if the company goes 25%, 50%, 75% or even 100% remote within days? The IT team should streamline the number of collaboration programs and apps loaded on each computer to simplify the IT and user experience; which programs are simple, already in use and essential across all LOBs and functions? How will IT leaders scale the demand upfront and further scale as the work from home policy progresses? Will the organization be staffed with enough IT experts to troubleshoot technology issues — especially if a large majority of workers are now learning to use equipment at home?  

     

    4. Legal considerations.
    Are there national, regional or local laws that impact the distribution of your workforce into remote positions? There may be tax jurisdiction implications for workers who live (and now work) in a different taxing authority than the office/headquarters. Will your organization require specific personal home or renter’s insurance coverage for equipment? Will you forbid your employees to meet with clients at their home office? What are the legal ramifications for the company’s worker’s compensation policy for injuries incurred at an employee’s home while working? In addition, what policies are necessary to ensure accessibility/disability accommodations?

     

    5. Managing expectations.
    Get ready to assuage a lot of fear and assumptions and manage expectations. Both managers and employees may be fearful of working in new ways. A key component of making flexibility work is providing guidance on how to create effective working relationships with peers and managers that deliver results. However, only 33% of organizations offer training to managers on how to manage “flexibly.” Furthermore, even fewer organizations (14%) provide training to employees on how to “work flexibly.” (Mercer Design of Work, 2019) This status has just been upended — organizations that haven’t done this already are in for a crash course.

     

    Managers, supervisors, and leaders:

    • Managers often worry about: How will I manage my employees if I cannot see them? What if my reports do not want to return to the office after the risk is over? How will I assess performance? While the second question is addressed later in this article, the best response to fears number one and three is to ask managers who raise these concerns; “How do you manage your employees’ performance now while they are physically in the building?”  Managers answers should be the same for both remote and office workers: “I evaluate my direct reports based on results and execution against stated goals.”  This type of performance management is location independent.

    • Managers will also need guidance on assessing who is able to work more independently and in isolation from the office (if your organization rolls out partial work from home). HR can help supervisors assess which roles, functions, and jobs are most suitable and what personality traits are most likely to remain committed, motivated, and responsive while removed from face-to-face in-office interactions. Do not make assumptions about generations — i.e., “Baby Boomers may not embrace the required technology as well as Gen Y employees.” You may find that older generations are just as productive as the younger generations and actually enjoy the solitude more.

    • Managers will need extra help in facilitating the technology set-up required by the firm and potentially executing any written agreements that the organization mandates regarding remote work expectations, equipment, and security protocols.  Managers can help employees set expectations and help remote workers structure their daily schedule for success.

    • The feeling of isolation is real for distributed workers; especially if implemented in a quarantine situation. Set up weekly team conference calls and ask that everyone turn on their video to build camaraderie, if possible. Try to schedule half hour weekly video check-ins with each direct report to check in on them personally, build trust, delineate performance tasks, and provide support. Ask team members to check in on their fellow teammates too — to build cohesion and care. If your company already uses social recognition platforms — now is the time to push increased participation to help build confidence and connectedness among team members.

    Employees

    • Employees will need to know remote work expectations and some will require additional support to successfully make the change. Do not assume that all employees will easily make the switch even if your organization currently allows for ad hoc work from home. Some employees will fundamentally enjoy the solitude of full-time work from home and some will desperately miss the face-to-face interactions at the office. Be prepared to support employees as they transition to new ways to work. Help them understand how rituals like a walk or coffee before work can mentally help them start their day. Many remote workers dress business casual and avoid the yoga pants or pajama bottoms to help them feel professional and motivated.

    • Make sure that all employees working remotely understand how to use the required technology (such as video conferencing, access to shared drives or workflow/project management technology, IM, logging into email from remote location, and setting up call forwarding from office phones to smart phones or home phones) before deploying them to their home offices. This is not a time to upend current in-office systems. Try to minimize the implementation of new technology unless absolutely necessary during this phase of rapid change and potentially steep learning curves for many team members. Try to reduce the use of multiple collaboration products to the most effective and simple platforms across all work teams.

    • Communicate expected work hours, discuss with clients the changes in work location/venue, and expectations for response timeframes for both team members and customers.

    6. Communicate!
    The number one concern from the onset is communication.

    Communicate the near term scenario and expectations weekly — and immediately, if trigger events occur.  If policy changes to travel, face-to face meetings, and virtual work are planned — estimate the onset of the new policy and the duration of the change.  Please read COVID-19 – an employer’s guide: Ten considerations to support your workforce for more ideas.

     

    7. The genie is now out of the bottle. No more business as usual.
    Executive leadership and HR should be prepared for push back against old ways of working once the crisis is over. Employees may ask: “Why don’t we have more remote work options on a regular basis?” This crisis-based flexible work experiment will deliver new ideas for the design of future work models. Some employees may want to continue flexible and distributed work and some will want to return to the office as soon as possible, but as an organization your staff improvised and learned many new ways to deliver while working in a distributed network.

     

    Hone in on learnings from this endeavor. What worked, what didn’t work well, and how could little and big tweaks made a difference in negative outcomes or more positive results? What is the most fascinating learning that came from this experiment? Would a more permanent flexibility policy be advantageous for the business, your employees, and for future risk and crisis mitigation? What mistakes were made that can be fixed if a more sustainable flex policy were implemented? What were the costs and overall operational savings or ROI (return on investment)?  Can the travel budget be reduced in the future to allow for more video-based meetings?

     

    Either way — after implementing a mandatory, or a significantly large crisis-based work from home policy — we can bet your organization will not be the same as before COVID-19. You may find that your employees and organizational structures are inherently more agile and more resilient and that may be a silver lining.

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    Source: Mercer

    https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/covid-19-the-crash-course-for-going-remote-quickly-and-effectively.html

  • 20 Mar 2020 8:37 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AP: Gov. Gavin Newsom 190916

    Weizhen Tan@WEIZENT | Riya Bhattacharjee@LOISLANE28 | PUBLISHED THU, MAR 19 20209:44 PM EDT

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued a statewide order for all residents to ‘stay at home’ amid a coronavirus outbreak.

    “We need to bend the curve in the state of California,” Newsom said, as he announced a statewide order for Californians to stay home.

    “There’s a social contract here, people I think recognize the need to do more ... They will begin to adjust and adapt as they have been quite significantly. We will have social pressure and that will encourage people to do the right thing,” he said, in addressing how this order will be enforced.

    Newsom added: “Home isolation is not my preferred choice ... but it is a necessary one ...This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time.”

    The stay home order is in place till further notice.

    All dine-in restaurants, bars and clubs, gyms and fitness studios will be closed, according to the order. Public events and gatherings are also not allowed. Essential services will stay open, however, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, and banks.

    According to the orderCalifornians in 16 critical sectors are to continue working. Those include emergency services, energy and food and agriculture.

    Newsom said he made the decision “based upon some new information” and projections that came in from Johns Hopkins University.

    He reiterated throughout the press conference and in response to questions from reporters: “We need to meet this moment and flatten the curve together.”

    “We have 416 hospitals in CA, but within the hospital system we have a capacity to surge beyond the 78,000 currently staffed beds by an additional 10,000,” Newsom said. “If we change our behaviors that inventory will come down, if we meet this moment, we can truly bend the curve.”

    “It’s now just time to absorb and recognize that we need to change our behaviors in a way that meets this moment and allows a recognition that this moment will pass,” he added. 

    “The supply chain must continue, and Californians must have access to such necessities as food, prescriptions and healthcare,” the order said. “When people need to leave their homes, whether to obtain or perform the functions above, or to otherwise facilitate authorized necessary activities, they should at all times practice social distancing.”

    California estimates that more than half of the state — 25.5 million people — will get the new coronavirus over the next eight weeks, according to a letter sent by Gov. Gavin Newsom to U.S. President Donald Trump.

    “In the last 24 hours, we had 126 new COVID-19 cases, a 21 percent increase. In some parts of our state, our case rate is doubling every four days,” Newsom wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. Newsom asked Trump to dispatch the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to the Port of Los Angeles through Sept. 1 to help with the influx of expected cases.  

    At Thursday’s press conference, Newsom said, “We believe the virus will impact about 56% of California’s population ... You do the math, that’s a particularly large number ... We believe with a 20% hospitalization rate, that’s about 19,543 people that would need to be hospitalized – above the existing capacity of our system.”

    California reported nearly 699 confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET Wednesday night, according to the California health department. Newsom said the virus is spreading in the community in 23 counties across the state. It is the third hardest hit state in the U.S., behind Washington state which has 1,376 cases as of 6 p.m. EDT Thursday and New York which has at least 5,000 cases. 

    Earlier this week, Newsom ordered all non-essential businesses to close, including bars, beer pubs and wineries. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, cannabis clubs and other businesses deemed as essential are still open, state and local officials say.

    San Francisco Bay area officials on Monday became the first in the country to issue a “shelter in place” order that will affect nearly 7 million residents of six counties in the Bay Area as the region tries to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The order asks all residents of six Bay Area counties, including San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda, to remain home as much as possible. It takes effect at midnight and will last until April 7, the order says.

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday also issued a “Safer at Home” order, asking residents to stay home and limit all “non essential activities.”

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Source: CNBC

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/19/california-governor-issues-statewide-order-to-stay-at-home-effective-thursday-evening.html

  • 20 Mar 2020 8:33 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Published on March 19, 2020 | William E. Brewer, CCP, MBA

    With uncertainty in the economy, many companies turn to laying off a portion of its workforce to reduce labor costs. After all, labor is often the largest expense to a business. However, it is very short sighted for a business to jump to layoffs (or reduction in force) as an answer for a downturned economy. When the economy is down, some business decision makers have a difficult time looking ahead towards recovery. It is as if these decision makers believe the down economy will never end. There will be a recovery and your business will need to be prepared for it. Through some simple research, businesses will learn that layoffs do not result in improved profits. Also, layoffs do not position a business for future growth.


    To clarify terms, a layoff or reduction in force (RIF) is a separation from employment with no likelihood or expectation that the employee will be recalled because the position itself is eliminated.


    On the topic of profitability and layoffs, I came across a note on a study that “examined a large specialty retailer found that conformance quality (how well an employee executes prescribed tasks) has a higher impact on profitability than service quality (defined as the extent to which the customer has a positive experience) … stores that cut staff were unwittingly cutting profits, and yet the practice was standard. Why? ‘An emphasis on minimizing payroll expenses and an emphasis on meeting short-term (often monthly) performance targets,’ the study found. Another consequence of understaffing at this retailer was lowered morale, a finding echoed in other studies.”[1]


    When a position truly goes away, such as something disruptive to the industry or business, the permanent closing of a job type would make sense in which those holding the job should be trained to a new role. When that cannot be done and the position is being permanently closed, the layoff would make sense. An example we have all seen is the growth in advertising revenue yet print publications continue to decline causing many jobs with print publications to truly go away.


    In looking at severance payments alone, if each person laid off receives an average of about six months’ worth of severance pay and outplacement services, it will take six months to start saving money. Recessions can last 12 to 18 months, and when demand picks up, it is common for a business to have to start hiring people about a year or so after its layoff. Thus, undoing the savings it began realizing six months earlier.


    In going through a layoff, most understand the direct costs of:

    ·      severance pay,

    ·      payment of accrued vacation or paid time off,

    ·      supplemental unemployment benefits,

    ·      outplacement services,

    ·      pension and benefits payouts,

    ·      administrative processing costs, and

    ·      costs of rehiring former employees.


    However, a layoff has indirect costs. These indirect costs could include:

    ·      recruiting and employment costs of new hires,

    ·      low morale,

    ·      risk-averse survivors,

    ·      decline in share price following a layoff announcement,

    ·      decreased productivity among survivors,

    ·      increase in unemployment tax rate,

    ·      lack of staff when economy shifts back,

    ·      training costs,

    ·      increased voluntary terminations from survivors,

    ·      opportunity costs of lost sales,

    ·      potential for legal action from upset employees,

    ·      potential strikes by unions in some countries,

    ·      loss of institutional memory and trust in management,

    ·      and brand equity costs / damage to the company’s brand as an employer of choice.


    Here are some ideas that could be part of a business leaders’ arsenal that can help a business steer away from terminating the people who show up each day to get the work done: 


    ·      Reduce your workweek. Going from a five-day workweek to a four-day workweek reduces payroll by 20 percent. The company reduces its need to rehire with an upturn in the economy. Employees stay on the job, supporting their families, in lieu of being out of a job.

    ·      Extend time off. Instead of offering two weeks of paid vacation, offer additional weeks, two of which are paid and the other weeks as unpaid but excused time off.

    ·      Incentivize employees to save money. An example, I came across an idea where for every $1,000 identified to be saved, there was a one-time 20% incentive. Your employees will feel empowered and they can be an excellent source in identifying money saving ideas.

    ·      Offer sabbaticals. “These extended periods of time away from the office are different from long vacations in that managers challenge employees to step away from the office, take a pay reduction, get some training or learn a new language, and then come back at full pay with more skills. Sabbaticals are successful with established, high-performing professionals.”

    ·      Hiring freeze / do not replace attrition.

    ·      Halt renewing contracts with existing non-employee workers.

    ·      If you need to increase staff for a short-term time in the middle of an economic downturn, consider bringing in non-employee (contract) workers.

    ·      Retraining employees for new positions.

    ·      Shutting down the business for short periods of time.

    ·      Offer job sharing.

    ·      Offer early retirement.

    ·      Reduce pay.

    ·      Freeze pay.

    ·      Reduce or eliminating paid overtime.


    What about the weak performers already in the company? An economic downturn is a poor excuse to remove weak performers. Independent of an economic downturn, a company should have already taking the correct steps to move the employee’s performance to a level that at least meets expectations and if the employee fails to improve within a reasonable timeframe, that employee should have been removed from the business. Ideally, the failing employee will recognize through a performance improvement plan process and resign. When this does not happen, the company should initiate the exit and not draw out the time of having an under-performing employee weakening the organization.


    As an adjunct professor teaching HR management, I have highlighted examples to my classes of well branded companies that took another path in lieu of layoffs. Some of these examples include Southwest Airlines, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, and Apple.


    Going through the 9/11 downturn, Southwest Airlines had a strong focus on its employees and a no-layoff focus which is among the core values that is part of the company’s human resource strategy. A layoff would weaken this strategy, so a layoff approach is not seen as an option for Southwest Airlines. During the same time period, other airlines took a layoff approach. Those airlines emerged from the downturn with a damaged employee and customer reputation (loss of trust and loyalty) where Southwest Airlines emerged strong in comparison.


    Southwest Airlines reduced costs leveraging its workforce that was very productive and flexible. Their high productivity turned into cost savings. Some of this cost savings was passed on to consumers who were also looking to reduce their own costs during the economic crisis. Southwest Airlines was also able to leverage that job security for its employees into creative thinking leaving the employees feeling comfortable that there would be no repercussions for making mistakes. The company maintained its positive image keeping them as an employer of choice when the economy turned upward again. Southwest Airlines also used its cash reserves to sustain the company through the poor economy as they had a large reserve with no debt. During this time, they delayed the purchase of new aircraft and stopped its plans to renovate the company headquarters. During the Great Recession, Southwest Airlines repurposed its recruiters to customer service / customer facing roles tapping into their people skills strengths.


    Another example was Joie de Vivre Hospitality, one of the largest operators of boutique hotels in the United States. During a recession period, they focused their efforts on making the line-level, hourly wage employees feel safe and secure in their jobs. Senior executives took a 10% pay cut and salaried employees took a 2 ½ yearlong pay freeze which allowed the line-level, hourly employees to receive benefits and an annual wage increase.


    As Apple was heading into the Great Recession, Steve Jobs had said, "We've had one of these before, when the dot-com bubble burst. What I told our company was that we were just going to invest our way through the downturn, that we weren't going to lay off people, that we'd taken a tremendous amount of effort to get them into Apple in the first place -- the last thing we were going to do is lay them off. And we were going to keep funding. In fact, we were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that's exactly what we did. And it worked. And that's exactly what we'll do this time."


    At Honeywell in the 2008-2009 recession, the leadership team agreed to ensure that any restructuring during that period would be permanent, not purely based on the recession and would be tied to what was best for business efficiency and profitability over the long term. In addition, they agreed that restructuring decisions would have no impact on Honeywell’s ability to outperform in recovery. Another tool Honeywell used was the use of furloughs. This helped Honeywell save on compensation costs, reduce rehiring needs, and gave some level of comfort to employees who know the furlough will be for only a short period of time.


    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Source: LinkedIn Pulse

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/options-layoffs-create-employee-customer-loyalty-brewer-ccp-mba/

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