Liz is the office manager for a New Jersey-based ticket brokerage firm that employs a staff of 25. With the help of the company’s accountant and insurance broker, she handles all HR-related responsibilities for the company.
These tasks include tracking timesheets, processing payroll, administering benefits, recruiting, maintaining the employee handbook, handling employee relations, as well as ensuring compliance with employment laws.
Liz has been with the company for 18 years, since its inception. She knows the ins and outs of the organization and has satisfactorily performed her role—until the unprecedented coronavirus crisis turned American business on its head.
Like many businesses, Liz’s was unprepared. Justifiably overwhelmed, Liz was called upon to perform tasks that were out of her comfort zone—comply with the Governor’s Executive Orders, interpret complex new leave laws and communicate them to her staff, evaluate health and safety risk, furlough workers, counsel on benefits plans, respond to unemployment claims, create return to work strategies, and more.
With little guidance and time to react, Liz’s actions may have put her company at risk for an employment-related lawsuit.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all aspects of business, and HR is no exception. While many of the resulting needs have been immediate, the effects will be felt indefinitely. Here we explore how the role of HR is likely to change.
A Surge of Responsibilities
“Business as usual” has been redefined. As a result, HR will take on new responsibilities. These include:
Ensuring workplace safety
Practices like punching a clock and sharing a lunchroom will forever be changed. Office space will need to be reconfigured to maintain social distancing.
Access to resources that promote good hygiene (masks, handwashing, disinfectant wipes) will need to be provided, along with routine cleanings of the workplace.
Additionally, proper documentation must be maintained to support the measures taken to protect employees.
Adapting to remote work
During the pandemic, remote working capabilities were put to the test at a grand scale. And although remote employees are out of sight, working from home is still work and the same laws apply.
Employees still must follow policies, and employers still need to track time worked. Workplace safety is still an issue, and employers are required to provide accommodations.
Addressing new policies
The pandemic will result in the need to create new workplace policies and re-examine existing ones. These include protocols related to sick and other leave policies, remote work, business travel, reporting illness and diagnosis, and many more.
All will need to be clearly documented in the employee handbook and effectively communicated to employees.
HR Will Play a More Critical Role
Throughout the pandemic, management had to pivot quickly and reorganize in extraordinary ways. To get through it, they looked to HR for guidance.
For many organizations, the office manager, bookkeeper, or payroll clerk did not possess the experience and know-how to be a viable HR option.
Unfortunately, the rise in the number of employment-related lawsuits is likely to be the eye-opener. As businesses recover and adjust to the new normal, having a competent, dedicated HR resource will become invaluable.
To learn more about Balance Point’s HR consulting solution and how we can help future-proof your organization, schedule a call with us.
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