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Employer guidance for preparing and responding to coronavirus

Employer guidance for preparing and responding to coronavirus

Coronavirus is continuing to spread globally, with 82,000 reports worldwide and 60 confirmed cases now in the United States as of this blog. Along with the global advance comes increased anxiety and confusion over how to prepare.

You may have seen that large corporations are canceling conferences, limiting travel and stocking supplies. But is this too extreme—or not extreme enough? What does this mean for smaller companies? And how can workplaces prepare? 

This blog is simply intended to provide information to promote common-sense preparedness, not panic. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidance that may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illness and the potential effects of more widespread outbreaks of coronavirus. Their guidance is two-fold: How employers can prevent now, and prepare for later.

What employers can do now

As all workplaces are encouraged to take safety measures, it’s important that employers communicate preparedness to employees. Employers should also be careful not to make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin. The following recommendations should be used to prepare and prevent the spread of the virus, but any confirmed illness should remain confidential.

  • Emphasize hygiene etiquette

Post information around the office that encourages staying home when sick and explains cough and sneeze etiquette and handwashing in areas where they are likely to be seen. Provide tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer around the workplace to encourage prevention throughout the day.  This is nothing new. This counsel is actually what should normally be followed to reduce the spreading of any sickness in the workplace.

  • Encourage staying home

Employees should be encouraged to notify their supervisor and stay home if they are feeling sick. Ensure that your company’s sick leave policies are flexible and in line with public health guidance, and communicate these policies consistently so that employees are aware. Some may need to stay home to care for a sick family member or may not be able to obtain a doctor’s note within the usual timeframe. Be flexible and make sure your employees know their health is a priority.

  • Advise caution for traveling employees

Direct employees to the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which employees may travel. Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of respiratory illness before starting travel and ensure that employees who become sick while traveling can notify a supervisor and contact a healthcare provider. If outside the U.S., sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. 

  • Maintain confidentiality

In the rare event your employee is confirmed to have coronavirus, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure, but maintain privacy and confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and HIPAA. Employees exposed to a co-worker can conduct a risk assessment per guidance by the CDC.  This is not an easy balance – so you may want to obtain some counsel in the event of a confirmed case in your workplace.

Creating an outbreak response plan

The severity of the illness or how many people will fall ill is still unknown, but the CDC has said the current risk in the U.S. from the virus is low. However, employers are still encouraged to develop plans in case the virus becomes more widespread. This could potentially result in containment efforts that might include closing schools, limiting public transportation or canceling large gatherings. The following bullets recommend action items for employers in the event that coronavirus becomes even more widespread.

  • Review policies for compliance

Review your company’s human resources policies to ensure practices are consistent with public health recommendations and existing state and federal workplace laws. For more information on employer responsibilities, visit the websites of the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

  • Consider remote work

Depending on your business, employees may be able to telecommute or flex their normal working hours to increase physical distance between other employees. This may be necessary in the event of an outbreak, as state and local health authorities could recommend social distancing strategies. Employers should ensure that technology and policies are in place to support employees who can work from home.

  • Plan for interruptions

Identify now the essential functions, roles and elements within your business to maintain regular operations. Develop a plan now for how your business will operate (or not operate) if employees are unable to come to work or if essential functions are inhibited. 

  • Prioritize communication

Information should be communicated to employees and business partners about your company’s disease outbreak plan. Establish a process now for this communication and set up triggers that will activate the response plan. Employers should anticipate employee fear, rumors and misinformation, so be careful that communication addresses these anxieties.

  • Stay informed in the community

According to the CDC, local conditions will influence the decisions that public health officials make regarding community-level strategies. Employers should take the time now to learn the plans in place for each community in which the business is located.

Looking ahead

Taking preventative and proactive measures now will prepare both employers and employees in the event that coronavirus does become more widespread. Rather than scrambling last minute, an overly cautious approach will make employees feel confident, informed and safe. 

As your PEO, we’re here to support you. This blog is intended to promote preparedness, NOT panic. Have further questions or concerns? Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to take steps with you toward protection and compliance. 

See the following links to more information about coronavirus: 

Why choose a PEO?

Why choose a PEO?

Servant HR provides fully integrated HR services—giving employers the freedom to focus on the success and growth of their businesses. Operating as a PEO enables us to take on the administrative load that comes with paying employees, offering benefits, managing risk and more. 

But what exactly is a PEO again? And how is it different from the other HR service options out there? Good questions! Let’s get a lay of the land.

Defining terms

PEO stands for Professional Employer Organization. The biggest distinction of a PEO is that it offers its services through a “co-employment” relationship. Co-employment means that the PEO allocates responsibilities between the employer and the PEO, as expressed in a service agreement. 

While the employer maintains their relationship with worksite employees, PEO’s provide many back-end services in a bundled offering. These often include payroll, health and welfare benefits, workers’ compensation and risk management services. 

Perhaps the biggest misconception about PEO’s is that the client loses control of its workforce through the co-employment model. But this is not the case, as PEO clients retain complete control over day-to-day operations and workforce management. Employers continue to make their own hiring, termination, discipline, scheduling, promotion, safety and culture decisions.

The relationship actually provides the exact opposite, as PEO’s often add to the control and confidence of an employer. Clients have access to higher quality HR offerings, systems and processes, and benefit from PEO expertise in making big decisions.

Other options

You may have heard of an ASO as well, which stands for Administrative Services Organization. The main difference between a PEO and an ASO is the co-employment relationship. An ASO manages only day-to-day administrative operations, but does not process payroll, remit taxes, sponsor benefit programs or offer workers’ compensation coverage under the PEO umbrella. There is no shared employment relationship. 

If that’s still not enough acronyms for you, there is an HRO model as well! Human Resources Outsourcing is the process of subcontracting human resources functions to an external supplier. This option has traditionally been only available to larger organizations, but like an ASO, an on-site employer remains the “employer of record” in the arrangement. 

So, why a PEO?

Here are three of our favorite reasons to consider:

Compliance

For many small businesses, administering payroll is a huge task in itself. What may seem just like “cutting checks,” actually involves many parts of the business, all affected by payroll functions. PEO clients enjoy easier, more confident compliance in tax payments, and more benefits options. A PEO literally has hundreds of years of human resource experience.  Partnering with a PEO provides peace of mind that a full-service team of experts is working solely for your protection.

Benefits

Another perk is there may be access to more affordable health and ancillary insurance. Alongside a PEO, you gain access to a much larger pool of employees when obtaining insurance quotes. PEO’s may receive bulk, discounted pricing so that clients are able to offer employees more comprehensive insurance coverage with better rates.

Cost

For many small business owners, cost is the most compelling reason for signing on with a PEO. Service fees for PEO’s are often significantly less expensive than hiring a full-time, in-house Human Resources professional. The PEO manages all the functions of a full-time employee, and in some cases, for as little as a quarter of the cost. 

In addition, many employers struggle under the weight of being both the business owner and the HR department. The inability to balance both effectively can ultimately cause a business to suffer. 

Thinking it through

Partnering with a Professional Employer Organization can have a ripple effect across an entire company, offering better health benefit options, employee management and more time for business owners to spend on what they really care about—their business.

Working with a PEO is a big decision for any company. While it may stand to benefit your business in many ways, don’t just take our word for it! Feel free to check out our reviews and explore our website resources. Learn more about our team and exactly what we do


Still not sure if a PEO is right for you? Give us a call today! We’d love to help answer any of your questions and determine how Servant HR can serve you and your business.

The Training and Development Your Employees Really Want

The Training and Development Your Employees Really Want

Your employees might be a little jumpy with Halloween just around the corner. However, recent research shows it’s not the spooky season that’s frightening your workers—it’s their jobs. 

A new Cornerstone report found that over half of American workers aren’t sure they have the skills to withstand a future layoff. Some economists are already forecasting a downturn after a recent spike in layoffs, and data shows employees are getting nervous. Cornerstone reports that 60% of baby boomers feel insecure with their current skill sets, especially as compared to the increasingly competitive talent market. And with the rise of new technology, workers are afraid they could lose their jobs to either more qualified employees or in some cases—to machines. 

So what is HR’s role amidst this worried workforce? How can you more effectively train your employees so they feel empowered to do their work and confident in their skills? To start, you’ll have to learn what your employees know and don’t know—and tailor your training and development programs to fit the needs of your organization.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers several key ideas for better training and development programs that actually increase employee confidence.

1. Survey your employees

The best way to get real information about organizational performance is to simply ask your employees. They know their exact pain-points and will be motivated to participate in training that specifically addresses their needs. Surveys also boost morale, as they demonstrate employer care and interest in employee development. SHRM notes the most common feedback from employee surveys is that employees want clearer work expectations and training by experts. 

2. Align training with goals

Management should define their operating goals before designing targeted programs. Specific goals might be better performance, productivity or customer satisfaction. Perhaps you need better onboarding and new-hire training so that employees can provide greater customer service. For compliance training, partner with regulatory agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (health and safety), the Department of Labor (wage and hour compliance) and the Department of Justice (harassment and discrimination training). You may consider contracting out design work in order to create more comprehensive instructional material. If you’re managing a multi-generational workforce, your goal may be to improve communication within the organization. Offer training for supervisors to improve their coaching skills and help develop a healthier work culture. 

3. Ingrain it into your culture

Speaking of healthier work culture, consider implementing a “life-long learner” philosophy that focuses on employee satisfaction. When making promotion decisions, give preference to employees who have completed training and performed well. A promotion should be one of the rewards for their efforts, as it answers the employee question, “What’s in it for me?” Celebrate achievements by letting everyone in your organization know when someone completes training and what that means for their growth opportunities. Advertise your programs and participants in internal communications, display their pictures and stories, and talk about it at every employee gathering. Encourage employees to be trainers or subject matter experts so that employees are engaged and empowered to take ownership of their skills. 

4. Keep innovating

Sometimes the problem lies, not in lack of programs or training content, but in the inability to communicate that content in an appropriate learning format. As we all get more comfortable with technology, there’s a growing need to adopt the latest ideas. Today there are apps, games, and easy-to-use video tools that can be streamed to mobile devices for individual training on the employee’s own time. It’s important to research the latest trends online, network with other training professionals, and revise programs to take advantage of the latest best practices. Just because it’s what you’ve always done, doesn’t mean it’s what you should do forever. Tailor your training to how your employees best learn and don’t be afraid to adapt to new technology. 

5. Measure results

Make sure you’re keeping track of how things are going. This lets you know if the training offerings you provide are worth everyone’s while. The best measures are the simplest ones; incorporate them into your program so everyone knows what’s expected. Look for behaviors and measure them on the job to determine if employees actually learned how to perform appropriately. If trainings do not provide the intended result, consider redesigning programs, as well as offering feedback. To ensure there are no surprises for employees, communicate the importance of feedback and implement a specific structure. Make feedback a regular part of life at work so employees know how they are doing in real-time. 

These are just a few ideas for revamping training and development at your company. You want your employees to feel happy, confident and motivated in their work—not insecure and nervous they might get fired at any second! Demonstrate your belief in your workers by investing in their development. Providing your employees with growth opportunities sets them at ease and allows for greater productivity in the long run. 

Want more ideas for training? Need HR coaching and counseling for specific issues at your company? That’s where we come in. The health of your business is our priority, so contact Servant HR and allow us to serve you today.

Two Ways to Revamp Traditional Incentives

Two Ways to Revamp Traditional Incentives

Many companies have approached employee incentives the exact same way for decades—sick leave, overtime pay and annual salary reviews. While these ideas are important and generous, companies must take cues from today’s market to broaden their perception of incentives.

Employee engagement is now a financial strategy for businesses and high engagement is commonly driven by recognition and reward. Two key factors have been identified in the creation of modern incentives that actually engage and produce real, bottom-line benefits:

1. Personalization

Consumer demand for personalization is up. Why would employee demand be any different?

Still, a recent Deloitte survey reported that only 8% of companies say their systems of incentives are very effective at creating a personalized, flexible solution.

Personal and frequent engagement with employees can lead to the discovery of unique incentives that work well for each individual. Incentives then become the tangible evidence that employees are truly known and cared for within their organization.

Personalization of incentives often looks like project or target-based bonuses. For some, the ability to create their own benefits packages may be most rewarding. For others, the freedom to do more independent or remote work can motivate and establish trust. Other ideas include creating company-wide recognition with company-wide games—meeting specific performance targets on a points-based system.

By personalizing incentives, employees feel known and uniquely valued within an organization. Oftentimes, being heard is a powerful incentive in and of itself.

2. Purpose-Oriented

An employee’s interpretation of the work he or she does for a company is a critical part of employee engagement. If the brightest minds feels their work is worthless, work ethic will inevitably decline.

This requires employers to give employees a well-defined and visible mission that can inspire and motivate even the most tedious work. Those from the lowest level to the top should be able to see their contributions and value in day-to-day operations.

Sometimes creating purpose-oriented incentives doesn’t even mean creating new ones—it may mean just presenting incentives in a more thoughtful way.

For example, let’s say a travel marketing agency traditionally gives an extended PTO incentive. That’s nice. But if the extended PTO is given with the intent that employees go out, travel, experience the world and bring fresh ideas back with them… that’s a purpose-oriented incentive.

A carefully developed reason for longer vacation time actually gives employees a sense of belonging, purpose and importance. Traditionally, people take vacations to escape from work. But how might organizational culture and engagement shift if even on vacation, employees felt purposeful and helpful?

Another purpose-oriented incentive could involve linking employee rewards to social causes or community issues that matter to them. This incentive is both purposeful and personalized, as it caters to an individual’s passion. Win-win.

Time to Reevaluate

Still not sure you need to revamp your traditional incentives? Try walking by some desks. Do your employees perk up at the sight of you, trying to look busy? Or are they already driven and motivated? Do you find yourself struggling to know what to say, or do you know your employees on a personal level?

Servant HR is a human resource service provider that gives business leaders freedom to focus on the parts they love about their business. Give us a call and see how a PEO can help you today! We take care of your business’s administrative tasks, so that you can take care of your employees—and we think that’s a pretty good incentive.

What is a PEO? Servant HR explains.

What is a PEO? Servant HR explains.

You are a business owner. You are passionate about what your business does. But, legal compliance of I-9 documents? Benefit renewals? Unemployment compensation defense? Maybe not so much.

And yet, attention to the details of HR is critical. Overlooked tax changes, missed reporting requirements or a tricky employee termination can cause serious legal and financial repercussions.

Fortunately, Servant HR is a full service HR department that enjoys serving clients through eliminating their administrative hassle. Our team of experts partners with you to manage and optimize all your human resource responsibilities, so you have the freedom to focus on what matters most — growing your business.

What is a PEO?

When a company signs on with Servant HR, a unique relationship is formed as Servant HR becomes the company’s PEO.

The acronym PEO stands for Professional Employer Organization. While the acronym is attached to a variety of business models, NAPEO (The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations) defines a PEO as a “provider of comprehensive HR solutions for small and midsize businesses.

A professional employer organization establishes a three-way relationship between a company, its employees and the PEO. Rather than the traditional employer/employee relationship, the company and the PEO become “co-employers.”

What is Co-Employment?

Servant HR is an administrative employer, managing payroll, workers compensation, benefits and unemployment compensation matters. Management and day-to-day oversight is still the responsibility of the worksite employer.

When a company engages Servant HR as its PEO, employees sign a Co-Employee Acknowledgement Agreement. This agreement confirms employee understanding that he/she is now an employee of both Servant HR and their worksite employer.

What exactly does Servant HR do?

We provide comprehensive HR management tasks across five main disciplines:

  • HR Coaching & Counseling
  • Payroll
  • Benefits Administration
  • Risk Management
  • Retirement Program Setup & Admin

As a PEO, we strategically partner with clients to manage and optimize all human resource responsibilities — for both the benefit and protection of the client.

Any other reasons to consider a PEO?

So glad you asked!

According to NAPEO, small businesses that work with a PEO:

  • Grow 7 to 9 percent faster
  • Have employee turnover that is 10 to 14 percent lower
  • Are 50% less likely to go out of business

Any other reasons to consider Servant HR specifically?

  • Relief from the burden of employment administration
  • Expanded human capital management through a team of professionals
  • Improved employment practices, compliance and risk management
  • Administration of comprehensive employee benefit packages
  • Improved productivity and profitability

Unlike single-task outsource companies, Servant HR values the total relationship. By maintaining close management of all HR functions, our team gains valuable insights, understands procedures and offers holistic service. Our mission to take care of you and your employees makes relationship our priority.

Have more questions? Considering a PEO for your business? Contact us today! We’re excited to show you the benefits of a relationship with Servant HR.

HR and automation: Integrating human and digital resources

HR and automation: Integrating human and digital resources

Since the agricultural revolution of the 18th century, the productivity and efficiency of technology has instilled fear of employment displacement. Everything from surgical automation to grocery store self-checkout has people wondering: Am I going to lose my job to a computer?

The concern is legitimate. According to the 2017 Global Future of Work Survey report from Willis Towers Watson, business leaders expect 17 percent of work will be automated by 2020. While some industries (i.e. manufacturing, military, etc.) have been highly automated for years, other sectors such as retail, finance, banking and insurance are currently reeling from increases in automation. Restaurant kiosks, ATM machines and even automated financial planning platforms are being offered in place of human talent.

Technology’s power to transform economic sectors is nothing new, and its influence is only speeding up. So what does automation mean for HR — a department namely for humans?

HR is not exempt from the impact of automation. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, “Software bots and sophisticated algorithms are making it much easier for recruiters to source and screen job candidates, a function formerly performed solely by very human HR employees.”

Technology provides a more user-driven employee experience and most commonly automates tasks that are tedious and time consuming. We at Servant HR have experienced this on a small scale through the implementation of electronic onboarding. Automation has lessened the paperwork shuffle and provides employees with forms they can fill out on their own laptop, on their own time.

Automation advances undoubtedly improve customer service and eliminate human error. It’s definitely good… but isn’t that kind of bad? For the ones who get paid for the paper shuffle?

It sounds like it, but it’s widely argued that humans still retain an edge. As smart as computers are, the human body itself is a flexible and adaptable work platform. Human workers see the details, weigh implicit factors and can make complex decisions in unique situations. While rote work can become more efficient, according to a KPMG study, jobs that involve networking, project management, sales, conflict resolution, hospitality, creativity and any level of social intelligence are insulated.

But insulated doesn’t mean isolated. The automation revolution is a revolution for a reason—it’s everywhere. Rather than viewing automation as the enemy, Lisa Buckingham, a brand officer at Lincoln Financial Group, encourages today’s businesses to “provide a blend of digital and human services.”

This analysis is based off of companies like Amazon and Lyft, who were born digital. These companies continue to raise consumer expectations across all industries for simple, transparent solutions. Even the most creative and human-centered jobs must embrace the efficiency and simplicity of technology.

Oxford University program directors, Michael Osborne and Carl Frey, have conducted extensive research on the future of employment. Their work also reveals that tasks requiring relationship building and an understanding of human needs in social situations are best-suited for humans.

We think so too. At Servant HR, relationship is our priority. Our people-centered approach to businesses makes our team of experts an irreplaceable asset to our clients, despite the imminence of automation.

Automation is not the enemy. Done right, automation frees up human workers to provide more hospitality, one-on-one interaction and detail-oriented customer service.

And service is what we’re all about.

To learn more about what our personal PEO can do for your business, contact us today!

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