Reopening Planning Resources and Tips from the impactHR Team

With the coronavirus lockdown in place over the last two months, it’s hard to miss the new announcements from local and state governments that a slow, gradual period of reopening should commence. hr-xpress

With many facets of the crisis still bedeviled by uncertainties, key institutions and organizations are crafting expert guides on how to prepare your workplace for optimal safety for your employees. Here are a select few:

US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has released a portal and “decision document” for businesses and workplaces.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s “Operational Toolkit for Businesses Considering Reopening or Expanding Operations in COVID-19“: this Operational Toolkit consists of three parts – an instruction manual; a business risk worksheet; and an assessment calculator.

The US Chamber’s “State by State Business Reopening Guidance“: this online portal provides quick access to each state’s reopening status and related policies and guidelines for employers. The US Chamber also has released a comprehensive “Ready to Reopen: A Playbook for Your Small Business.”

In addition, the impactHR team provides their reopening insights based on their daily work with clients, representing a range of companies and organizations across industry sectors:

Kelly Mitchell, Principal: “Train your managers as they will be the first to have to respond to employees’ fear, anxiety, stress and fatigue. What resources or support will you provide them?”

Jeanne Minor, Senior HR Consultant, Client Services: “Don’t forget to have a policy in place for what employees should do when there are visitors to the office. Have proper signage with directions for both employees and visitors.”

Li Na Goins, Senior HR Consultant, Client Services: “In this fast-paced situation, employers need to have more frequent communication to stay connected with their employees. Ask for frequent feedback as to what is working or not working to make any necessary tweaks.”

Bonnie Monroe, Senior HR Consultant, Client Services: “Ensure you are considering the following: your employees likely want to get back to work at the office, but they’re scared. Move forward with compassion, empathy and tons of flexibility. Focus should be on accountability – not on where you are sitting.”

Denise Powell, Senior HR Consultant, Client Services: “Communicate! While your employees are back to work, the environment is not necessarily back to normal. Stay in tune with your employees and anticipate what questions or concerns they may have. Provide information, acknowledge their concerns and be transparent if you don’t have the answers.”

impactAction: If you have questions about reopening your workplace, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

Webinar: impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell Joins Expert Panel on Reopening, 5/28

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell will join a live webinar panel on “Re-open, Recover and Roar,” Thursday, May 28, 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT, hosted by Towson University’s Business & Leadership Alumni Alliance. With pandemic conditions gradually improving, the webinar’s topic focus is on “navigating the highly anticipated re-opening” of the DC/MD/VA region and the US.

The webinar’s expert panel, comprised of regional business leaders from a variety of industry sectors, will provide a comprehensive view on the challenges and opportunities for businesses in the midst of the recovery from the pandemic. In the webinar discussion, Kelly will join with Ed Callahan, Co-Founder and Creative Strategist with Planit; Brian Davis, Managing Director and CEO of Clearview Group, LLC; Lance Johnson, Vice President and Relationship Manager with Howard Bank; and moderated by Katie Bush, Manager of Business Development with KatzAbosch. Register here.

Building Employee Engagement: Ask What Motivates Your Employees

For your employees working remotely, questions arise such as, “How do I keep my employees connected?” and “How do I keep my employees engaged or motivated?”

These are two different questions which call for two different responses (both of which certainly apply to the current reopening period and onward).

Employee Connection: Consider ways to keep employees connected such as video calls, regular check-ins and virtual hang-outs to inspire collaboration, encourage accountability and ward off feelings of isolation and social disconnection.

Employee Engagement: Finding ways to engage and motivate employees calls for a more thoughtful approach. Employee engagement is the degree to which the employee feels motivated and inspired about their job and their commitment to the organization.

Simply put, engaged employees will put forth additional discretionary effort into their work. These are the employees who will take initiative to go the extra mile to benefit the organization. Engagement is something that comes from within the employee.

So how do we unleash employee engagement? Every employee has motivating needs. When one of their motivating needs are met, it is like adding fuel to the fire for their engagement.

Unleashing employee engagement requires that we identify what each employee’s motivating needs are and then find ways to support those needs. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to employee engagement, so be wary of applying a broad stroke solution to all employees. What motivates one employee may not motivate another.

So how do you identify your employee’s motivating needs? Ask them. Ask your employees what is most motivating and rewarding to them in their job. There are a variety of motivating needs, including:

  • Team recognition and encouragement
  • Supportive and harmonious team environment
  • Independence and freedom to solve problems their way
  • Opportunities to compete and win
  • Time to problem solve in quiet and time to think before offering ideas
  • Social interaction, acceptance, variety and consistency
  • Freedom from rigid structure and time to train and become an expert
  • Certainty of what is expected
  • Recognition for depth of knowledge and error-free work

Once you identify the motivating needs that are most important to each of your employees, you’ll have the insights you need to start supporting them in more meaningful and specific ways.

Creatively use these insights to help with your employee communication, recognition, work assignments and setting up team structures. This thoughtful effort will help your employees feel heard and seen, and they will know you value them as individuals.

OSHA Posts List of Jobs Classified by Risk to Coronavirus Infection

To help employers assess coronavirus-related hazards to which their workers may be exposed, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has posted a list of specific job tasks divided by four risk exposure levels: very high, high, medium and lower risk.

OSHA also highlights for employers its current set of standards to ensure employee safety on the job, such as provisioning for personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensuring the workplace is optimized to reduce coronavirus-related hazards for employees.

US DOL: New COBRA Model Notices for Employee Healthcare Options

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has issued new FAQs under COBRA and revised COBRA model notices to help employees facing layoffs or furloughs with their health benefit options.

For employers, the DOL is issuing updated versions of the model general notice and the model election notice to ensure employees (as qualified beneficiaries) better understand the interactions between Medicare and COBRA.

The new model notices include “additional information regarding the potential advantages to enrolling in Medicare before continuing to receive coverage through COBRA or in lieu of COBRA completely,” according to the Shulman Rogers law firm. Read more.

The 2020 Women’s Leadership Conference Goes Virtual, July 21

The 2020 Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) is going virtual! The WLC’s new date is Tuesday, July 21, 2020, 9:00am-2:00pm EDT.

The theme of this year’s online conference is HERSTORY: Ignite your 2020 Vision: Enlighten, Embrace, Equip and Execute! The keynote presenter is Donna Hartley, motivational speaker, who will talk about “Fire Up Your Life! The Power of Inner Leadership.”

The annual WLC, which impactHR is sponsoring, features a distinguished group of women leaders in the Baltimore-Washington, DC region and recognizes the contribution of phenomenal women leaders and their effect on regional business growth as well as to inspire attendees to strive for more effective leadership. The WLC is hosted by the Howard County (MD) Chamber of Commerce.

Register today.