Key Information for Employers – Dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis

Letter from impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell

With the ongoing global effort to slow and halt the spread of the Coronavirus disease, COVID-19, our impactHR team started remote client work last week.

impactHR's Kelly Mitchell

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell

As with many employers, we’ve taken this step to ensure the maximum safety and health of our client organizations’ teams and ours. This is our top priority always and is especially so now.

As part of this, I want to assure all of our clients that our team remains fully on-duty and committed to addressing on-going HR needs and issues, especially during this period.

In addition, for any specific HR-related emergency that may require our onsite presence, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. We’re continuing unabated service to our clients and collaboration with our expert partners.

In this special edition of impactnews, we provide relevant information and links to resources to help employers and their employees navigate the uncertain weeks ahead.

Thank you as always and my sincere wishes for health and safety in the days ahead.

Sincerely, Kelly Mitchell, Principal, impactHR

Key Information for Employers: Dealing with the Crisis

To help you and your organization navigate the current crisis, here is a practical set of key resources:

  • CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers: Core information about COVID-19 and how employers can help prevent and slow the spread of the virus:
  • US Chamber of Commerce Resources for Business Guide: provides content on workplace tips for employees, a workplace communications toolkit and guidance for employers on planning and responding to the crisis.
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act: The US Treasury, IRS and Labor Department (DOL) announced last week all US businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds can take advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, beginning April 1, 2020, to provide employees with paid leave (either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members). The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division this week issued guidance documents for employers and employees.
  • EEOC Guidance for Employers: This offers guidance on complying with ADA, Rehabilitation Act and related policies (including reasonable accommodation practices). This guidance document, for example, says employers may measure employees’ body temperature.
  • Flexible I-9 Compliance: The US Department of Homeland Security has announced that employers with all employees working remotely will not be required, on a temporary basis, to review new employees’ identity and employment authorization documents in employees’ physical presence.
  • SBA Disaster Assistance: DC, Maryland and Virginia have been approved for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses impacted by the current pandemic.
  • For Maryland Employers: The Maryland Department of Labor has launched its COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund to support businesses undergoing economic stress due to the pandemic by preventing or minimizing the duration of unemployment resulting from layoffs. MD Governor Larry Hogan also announced this week, among other measures, the closing of all non-essential businesses in the state.

impactAction: If you have questions about any of this information and complying with evolving regulations, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

Coronavirus: Tips for Communicating with Your Teams

In the midst of the current crisis, it can be a challenge to prepare and send work communications to employees that are engaging and effective.

With all of the fast-moving, time-sensitive information about virus-related workplace news and updates, it’s critical to communicate clearly with your employees on newly developed company programs, processes and news.HR-outsourcing

One key tactic is communicating with and reaching employees where they are, such as via their cell phones more than just their laptops. In-boxes are quickly inundated with email, which means this communications method can’t serve as a primary form of communication anymore.

To this end, consider these communications tactics:

  • Consider sending blast text messages to your employees via a HRIS system (in addition to using email). Research shows email open rates average below 33% while text messages see an average open rate of 99%.
  • Utilize online team collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Basecamp and many more for immediate communications with your employees and to stay easily connected.
  • Deploy video platforms, such as Zoom, as part of your communications toolkit. According to one recent study, videos for employees (especially when working remote) generate an average 78% employee engagement rate and 94% response rate per video viewed.

With five generations in the workplace, now is the time to be more multichannel-oriented in your employee communications. This is about modernizing the way HR communicates, especially in this time of crisis.

impactAction: If you have questions about employee communications, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

JHU Engineers Develop Coronavirus Tracking Dashboard

The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering has developed an interactive web-based dashboard to “visualize and track reported cases in real-time.”

The dashboard shows the location and number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries for all affected countries.
Learn more.

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell Publishes Column in BBJ on Marijuana Policy

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell authored last week’s Baltimore Business Journal Help Desk column on “How your company can better navigate cannabis law in the workplace.”

In her column, Kelly writes: “Few issues today appear more complicated than the thicket of employment-related policies around cannabis use in the workplace.”

“The District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia region signifies this complexity to a tee,” writes Kelly. “As it stands, 46 states plus Washington, D.C., allow marijuana use in some form, either medicinally or recreationally. Twelve states plus D.C. (not including Maryland and Virginia), have laws prohibiting employers from discriminating against job applicants or employees who use medical cannabis.” Read more.