Although the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT) contains important help for businesses, it also presents potentially significant labor issues for any mid-size company (500 to 10,000 employees) that receives direct loans under the Emergency Relief and Taxpayer protections portion of the Act. To receive a direct loan under the Act, a mid-size company must make a “good-faith certification” that it will comply with certain requirements listed in the CARES Act.
EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon issued a reminder to employers to be vigilant for instances of discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or race.
Dhillon said in a news release, “Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can bring out the best and worst in people. We have seen many examples of people rising to the occasion, helping others in need, sometimes at great risk or sacrifice to themselves. Sadly, there have also been reports of mistreatment and harassment of Asian Americans and other people of Asian descent.”
And in the workplace, she said, such discrimination is illegal. The commission is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination laws.
The EEOC chair urged employers and employees “to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace and to take action to prevent or correct this behavior.”
The President has recently changed his own racially-charged descriptions of the coronavirus after warnings of anti-Asian incidents and complaints from lawmakers, advocates and the Chinese government.
Additional information about national origin and race discrimination can be found at the EEOC website:
Congress has passed the third and largest coronavirus relief package to help struggling businesses and displaced workers during the pandemic.
Employers may ask if employees and candidates are experiencing any other symptoms of COVID-19 as well.
Send symptomatic workers home
Typically, requiring a body temperature check would be
considered a medical exam and is forbidden under the ADA. However, during this
pandemic, the EEOC is making an exception.
Employers may also require any employees or candidates exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home. It’s important that the names of those affected remain confidential.
It’s also crucial to note that if you ask one candidate
about symptoms, you must ask all of them, or it could be considered
discriminatory. Employers may also delay the start date of any new hires
The post EEOC OKs asking employees, candidates about COVID-19 symptoms appeared first on HR Morning.
The spread of the coronavirus is challenging organizations to rethink their approach to training as governments mandate travel bans, telework and social distancing. But simply using turning a lecture into PowerPoint slides on Webex is ineffective.
Orange County (Florida) Mayor Jerry Demings recently issued Emergency Executive Order 2020-04, ordering residents to stay at home and non-essential businesses to close in an ongoing effort to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It will become effective on Thursday, March 26 at 11 p.m. and expire on April 9 at 11 p.m.
During these challenging times, it’s important that HR leaders remain physically and mentally healthy, and yet, they are the first ones to forget to add themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness.
HR leaders face a variety of challenges throughout the day. Some of these are daily tasks common to most employees at every level within the company – from getting up in the morning, commuting to work, caring for children and/or elderly parents, to time demands, technology demands and balancing work and a personal life.
However, HR leaders face the additional
challenges associated with managing constant uncertainty, attracting and
engaging talented staff, handling the bombardment of information from various
levels, and maintaining a strong health and benefits program.
Bill Wilkerson, CEO of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, identified the following as the top ten sources of workplace stress.
These make HR self-care a priority
The treadmill syndrome – Often, HR leaders have too much to do, too many responsibilities, and feel that they should be even more productive. Learning to delegate appropriately, prioritizing and being more realistic about what they can and should be achieving, can help to tackle this syndrome.
Random interruptions – Telephone calls, walk-in visitors, and ‘emergencies’ from the teams that they support. Goal setting, time management and assertiveness strategies can increase productivity, and alleviate the stress of incomplete projects.
Pervasive uncertainty – An HR leader has to have the emotional capacity to tolerate
uncertainty and frustration. Their coping strategies through this uncertainty
will allow them to be able to raise tough questions without getting anxious
themself. Others will observe their verbal and non-verbal cues, and this will
impact the rest of their team’s ability to effectively cope.
Mistrust, unfairness, unresolved
conflict and vicious office politics –
Addressing these situations head on through effective communication and
conflict management skills, rather than avoiding them, is the only way to
guarantee that these issues will not continue to poison them or their
No sense of clear direction within the
company – When there is a sense of little
direction in the company, an HR leader must work to bring the vision into clear
Career and job ambiguity – Effective HR leaders tie what they do on a day-to-day basis
to the vision and mission of the company.
No feedback – This prevents HR leaders from knowing how they are doing and whether they are meeting corporate expectations. A 360-degree feedback process can help HR leaders identify any gaps between perception (what they think) and behaviour (what their team sees).
No appreciation – HR leaders are expected to give appreciation and are often not the recipients. Dr. Clifton and The Gallup Organization discovered that 65% of employees received no recognition in their workplace in the last year. However, we know that regular recognition and praise increase workplace engagement, productivity, safety, retention, and customer satisfaction.
Lack of communication – Mixed or incomplete messages can lead to critical mistakes in problem solving. While problem solving, the HR leader needs to ask who needs to learn what in order to develop, understand, commit to and implement the strategy. The HR leader needs to listen to others to raise questions that may indicate an impending challenge.
HR leaders get caught up in the situations that are stressful and often forget about the simple techniques that can be used to restore their body’s natural rhythm and decrease the negative effects that stress can have on them.
Practicing these quick tips, below, can ensure their health and wellness. The great thing about them is that they are fast and simple.
Air is the primary ‘food’ of our body. Rapid, shallow breathing is a common involuntary reaction to stress and is part of our innate stress response. This shallow breathing causes us to feel tired and foggy headed. Deep breathing interrupts this stress response and can be a powerful means of recharging oneself and regaining a more natural rhythm. It can relieve headaches, relax shoulders, stop racing thoughts, increase energy and turn restlessness into calmness.
Tense muscles cause blood to be squeezed out of the body tissue resulting in oxygen and nutrient depletion. This can cause pain and even a lack of concentration. Deskercises or self-massage can be helpful in releasing tension and restoring the flow of blood. Deskercises can relax neck and shoulder muscles, increase focus for problem solving, and can revitalize energy.
Some quick examples: Neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, stomach squeezes, hip twisters, wrist curls, quarter squats, and hand massage. Focus on particularly tense muscles or create a whole-body stretching routine.
Nutrition, water, light
During high stress times we often
compromise or completely forget about eating, drinking and getting outside.
Taking lunch, drinking a glass of water, or going outside for a stretch break
are simple and necessary techniques that provide essential energy and can
Safe space – beauty, sound, aroma
The space in which we work can have a
profound effect on our mood, energy and comfort. It is a benefit to create a
space that feels, sounds and smells great and to take a few moments after a
stressful situation to become involved in the quiet of one’s surroundings.
An HR leader’s mood and behaviours drive
the moods and behaviours of everyone else – “Smile and the World Smiles With
You”. Moods are contagious – laughter is the most contagious of emotions and
depression can have a definite negative impact on the work group.
An HR leader’s emotional maturity affects their performance and creates a certain culture or work environment. It creates climates where information sharing, trust, healthy risk taking and learning flourish.
Leaders can make sure that they are in an optimistic, authentic and high-energy mood, which will positively affect their own behavior, and the mood and behavior or those around them.
Though HR leaders frequently forget to add
themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness, there are a
variety of strategies that can assist them in remaining physically and mentally
Self-care in these chaotic and challenging
times must be the new norm. HR leaders need to address their unique challenges,
maintain their health through quick stress busters, and build support and
connectedness in their personal and professional lives.
Every workplace has negative people who erode morale. They’re not always easy to pick out of a crowd, but they can do an amazing amount of damage over time.
Most of the time, these folks don’t make the big mistakes that call attention to themselves. They’re frequently pretty good at their jobs, so they’re not called on the carpet too often.
But like a virus running in the background of a computer program, their acidic personalities eat away at the goals – and ultimately the bottom line – of the company week after week, year after year.
Who are these people? They’re the employees who:
- continually find things to complain about and exaggerate the seriousness of co-workers’ mistakes
- spread gossip and start rumors that pit employees against each other
- talk behind co-workers’ backs, and
- undermine supervisors’ authority with a never-ending flow of criticism that stays under-the-radar so it’s rarely recognized and corrected.
It’s been said the only way to fix a bad attitude is through psychotherapy, religion or brain surgery. But it’s a rare manager who is a shrink, a minister and a neurosurgeon.
Still, every manager needs a strategy to deal with this constant drag on employee attitudes.
The stakes are too high to just let things slide.
Looking for answers – 4 key questions
So what’s to be done? The experts say managers should move away from the vague “bad attitude” discussion to the hard facts of employee behavior.
The key questions:
- What’s the impact of the employee’s behavior?
- How do the person’s actions differ from the standards set for overall employee behavior?
- What’s the effect of this individual’s behavior on the people who work with him/her?
- If this person acted according to our accepted standards, could it make a difference in morale and productivity?
Managers should identify the actions of negative people – and make it clear those actions will no longer be tolerated.
An example: A Midwestern company established a “no jerk” policy. It included the statement:
Each employee will demonstrate professional behavior that supports team efforts and enhances team behavior, performance and productivity.
Handling tough conversations with acidic employees
Establishing policy is a solid first step; it creates a good framework.
But managers need practical advice that gets results day to day on the front lines.
Managers need one-on-one coaching sessions to cover these points:
- Acknowledge the awkwardness. Managers can let employees know they’re providing feedback that’s difficult to discuss. It’s only human to feel that way.
- Keep it results-oriented. A phrase like “I’m bringing this up because it’s important you address this issue to be successful in your job” is helpful.
- Accentuate the positive. It’s a good idea to highlight the good things that are likely to happen when the person changes the disruptive behavior. On the other hand, if the person remains defiant, stressing the negative outcome if the person’s attitude doesn’t change can be effective, too.
It’s human nature to want to delay having a tough conversation with an employee with a bad attitude. But that only makes things worse.
And since it’s going to be a tough conversation, it’s recommended that supervisors prepare for the discussion.
Suggestions for handling the confrontation:
- Be specific about what you want. It’s a mistake to use general terms in a discussion about a specific behavior problem. For example, a manager says “I don’t like your attitude. I want you to change it.” That’s pretty safe, but it could mean anything.
Instead, the manager should say “It’s not helpful the way you talk about our customers behind their backs. It poisons the attitude of the others in customer service. From now on, if you can’t say something supportive of a customer, please don’t say anything at all.”Managers should try to gather specific examples of negative things the employee has said in the past, and use those in the discussion for clarity.
- Let people rant … a little. Once a manager has gotten through discussing the specific behaviors, it’s likely the other person is going to feel the need to blow off steam and maybe even mount a defense. To avoiding having people feel like they are on the witness stand, let them rant a bit. It’ll help them feel like they are being heard – because they are. Then steer the conversation back to the results you want.
- Try to use “we.” Work to get across the notion that the issue is a problem for everyone concerned. A manager can start by saying “We have a problem” or “We need to change.”This helps the person realize the behavior is important, without finger-pointing.
- Avoid overusing “you.” Putting all the responsibility on the employee is a conversational black hole that’s impossible to escape. The constant use of the word you, as in “You have a bad attitude and everyone knows it” is an invitation for a fight. Instead, try “We need to talk about your attitude.” The point here is, while it is OK to use the word “you,” using it continually in a negative way kills the conversation.
- Avoid “however” and “but.” Some managers believe that if they lead with a compliment, it’s easier to wade into the problem. That conversation looks something like this: “You’ve done a pretty good job, but …” and then the manager lowers the boom.That often angers people and leaves them thinking, “Why can’t he ever just say something positive and leave it at that?”Consider substituting “and” for “but” and “however,” and the conversation is likely to go smoother, as in: “You’re doing a pretty good job and we need to talk about how to get you to show more respect for customers.”
- Don’t feel as if you have to fill the silence. In a tense situation a manager may be tempted to fill every gap in the conversation. Don’t. Stay silent when there’s a lull. Obligate the other person to fill in the silence. It’s surprising the amount of information a manager can get without ever asking a question … just by remaining silent.
The post Dealing with acidic attitudes: Help for your managers appeared first on HR Morning.
Our Seattle office has continued to update our guidance to respond to commonly asked questions and local resources for Washington employers. We also encourage you to review our nationwide Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus, put together by our firm’s COVID-19 Taskforce.
Leaders are obligated to make responsible decisions to keep their companies afloat. But those who manage the economic effects of this crisis in a clear and compassionate way create more value for their companies and will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before. So before announcing deep layoffs, consider these measures first.