The past 12 months have been a time like no other, forcing organizations to pivot quickly to accommodate a new reality. Now is the time to review handbook policies and internal processes that may have been revised on the fly in response to changing circumstances.
You can start by reviewing the ways your organization has changed since the start of the pandemic in terms of policy and process changes:
- Did employees’ transition to work remotely?
- Will they continue to do so? Did they start or expand use of personal devices for business purposes?
- Have schedules or reporting relationships changed to adapt to new circumstances?
- Have employees performed remote work from other states? (If they intend to remain there, you may need to register for general business, payroll, and/or unemployment tax purposes in that state. You may also need to review your current benefits offerings, as well specific employment laws for that state or local area. See our blog on state employment laws to consider with remote employees.)
- Has your brand or business model changed in response to the pandemic? Do you need to update position descriptions or organizational charts?
As you identify changes that have occurred and adjustments that will be necessary, review your employee handbook and update relevant policies to reflect your decisions. (Note: We do not recommend changing the handbook for policies that are temporary in nature, such as allowing employees to work remotely only until worksites open again. Temporary policies can be freestanding.)
In addition, consider the impact that the past year had on your employees and your organization’s culture:
- Some employees may have been working onsite throughout the pandemic. Others may be excited to return to the workplace, and still others may be cautious to return. This can result in actual or potential conflicts between employees who may judge or simply not understand another’s perspective.
- Some employees may be experiencing mental health issues resulting from isolation or other challenges encountered over the past year, while others are thrilled to be out of the house and back in the office.
- Some employees may feel the stress of changing family routines and expectations, and they may need additional time to adapt or help family members adapt.
- Some employees may be grieving the loss of a loved one during the pandemic, while others have experienced minimal personal impact.
- Some employees may need more time than others to reacclimate to their commute and former schedule at a worksite.
As your employees and you address these difficult issues, you can reaffirm a culture of inclusion, acceptance, and respect with effective planning, clear communication, flexibility, and empathy.
Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about how to handle these important workplace transitions and evolution, while maintaining your culture and supporting your mission and vision. We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments, as well as COVID-related updates from federal, state, and local authorities. Please keep watching our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-844-333-5253.