HR managers are facing two big problems at this stage of the pandemic.
One is that they’re having trouble hiring and retaining people. The labor shortage is real, and what was an issue before the pandemic has now bloomed into a full-blown crisis. Due to the Great Resignation, people are also leaving their jobs in droves, creating staffing issues in multiple industries.
The second challenge is that the legal environment HR managers find themselves in is changing, seemingly every week. COVID-19 mandates and labor laws are continuing to shift—such as the introduction of the NY HERO Act—and HR managers are struggling to keep up. Labor laws were already complicated before the pandemic and will only grow more complex as things ebb and flow. For HR managers who are already battered by decision fatigue, it can seem like they’re facing a murky road ahead.
Fortunately, there are proactive ways HR managers can gain control.
They can attract and retain talent by using the latest workforce management technology while also maintaining compliance with state and federal labor law guidelines, even as the guidelines shift because of COVID-19. Most importantly, they can help keep their workforce safe.
Empower employees in uncertain times
The lack of transparent, agile and automated scheduling methods cause people to leave their jobs. Out-of-date scheduling methods, poor user experience or a lack of transparency and visibility for employees is adding stress to an already-stressful moment in time and as such, making the decision to leave easy.
Take this hypothetical example: It’s 6:00 p.m. and an employee at a warehouse is getting ready to leave for the day. It’s been a long one, as one of his co-workers got sick and his supervisor asked him to arrive early to cover. He’s been dealing with cranky co-workers since 7:00 a.m. and needs to get home to study for a course he’s taking. He feels little to no control over his schedule because it seems to shift on a dime, especially as COVID-19 mandates change, making him more resentful of his supervisor.
Around 6:05 p.m., his supervisor calls. The supervisor needs the employee to stay until 9 p.m. tonight. Out of frustration, the employee quits on the spot.
Can you blame him?
This type of poor scheduling impacts higher ed, K-12, construction, healthcare and even government jobs. When employees are consistently forced to accept last-minute overtime shifts, it leads to a strained work-life balance that breeds resentment, burnout, reduced productivity and turnover. Even the most committed employees will eventually burn out and leave if they have no visibility into their schedule.
That’s why on-demand scheduling that utilizes the latest technology is so important. When employees can enter their availability into a system prior to schedules being created, the process is streamlined. Provided the system is smart and AI-powered, it also helps HR managers ensure employees are staffed appropriately while not violating overtime laws.
The right system also allows for centralized online access, empowering employees to view and manage their work schedules. This level of autonomy is now expected by employees: they want to manage their personal administrative work details through mobile or online channels. They like having 24/7 access to their information and receiving automated notifications and reminders in real-time.
Another huge benefit to having the right system in place: workforce management tools ensure payroll is delivered correctly and on-time. When simple processes like clocking in and out can work smoothly with workforce management software and payroll providers, employees gain back time and paychecks are accurate, workflows are improved and stress is lowered, which is especially important at a time when employees are already feeling stressed.
Stay compliant with federal, state labor laws
Even before the pandemic, there were many labor laws that HR managers needed to be conscious of and for good reason.
Federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) help HR managers provide employees with a fair and equitable employment experience. These laws protect employees but also present compliance hurdles for HR managers.
Add in COVID-related legislation, like the HERO Act in New York, and the path to compliance is even more complicated now and may continue to change.
In a National Small Business Association survey, the majority of business leaders said that meeting Department of Labor requirements was their most difficult compliance issue, with not just the IRS seen as more demanding. Labor laws control almost everything about the employee/employer relationship, and the complexities surrounding COVID-19 mean they can change rapidly. The penalties for noncompliance can be sizable and include regulatory fines, lawsuits and long-term damage to an employer’s reputation.
Using outdated time-collection and tracking methods is a surefire way HR managers create headaches for themselves. Luckily, integrated workforce management technology automates scheduling, absence and leave management and time tracking, among others. This allows HR managers to meet wage and hour requirements more effectively.
The right technology also makes dealing with COVID-19 mandates easier. For example, if your workforce management system allows you the right capabilities, you can configure around an employee’s vaccination status.
Be proactive to manage issues
With the right approach to scheduling, HR managers and HR decision-makers can stay ahead of the curve.
Entire industries continue to grapple with attracting and retaining employees. And, because of the changing world of work due to the pandemic, it’s getting harder for HR managers to do right by their people while also ensuring they’re compliant with state and federal guidelines. As the landscape becomes increasingly complex and hiring practices fluctuate, it’s become more important than ever to maintain compliance.
With the right tools in place, HR managers can be proactive in their approach and provide a better experience for their employees, while also ensuring they stay compliant with ever-changing laws.