Has your company been forced into remote working due to the pandemic?
Remote work can be great in normal times. By no stretch of the imagination is this a normal time. It’s never been more crucial for leadership to step up.
Managers play an important role in helping newly remote employees adjust. Those who succeed will help their organizations survive this crisis.
Considering managers have high influence on their teams–they account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement–their own experiences with your company can affect your entire workforce. “Covid-19 Has My Teams Working Remotely: A Guide for Leaders,” Gallup
This puts pressure on those who coach managers; HR directors, executives, business owners and consultants.
How are psychologists and leadership experts counseling managers?
- Set clear expectations
- Use repetition
- Be transparent about your company’s response to the pandemic
- Be realistic about productivity
- Be proactive about employee engagement
- Share your webcam during video conferences
- Be empathetic but positive
Let’s discuss what your employees are going through.
An earthquake during a pandemic followed by an economic cliff dive
The Salt Lake City, Utah area was shaken by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake on March 18. Like you, we were already dealing with the pandemic. Then the ground literally started moving under our feet.
The ground is still moving under your employees’ feet. And there are new aftershocks every day.
Leaders need to recognize that employees are going through a lot. It’s not just work as usual but done remotely — it’s work done remotely while dealing with what may feel like an existential crisis. Ravi Gahendran, Ph.D.
Your employees are not only worried about their health. Many of them have a partner or spouse suddenly out of work. State unemployment websites are crashing. The government loan relief program is having a bumpy rollout. Family members are sick with COVID-19. Hopefully, you haven’t had any deaths among your team but that is increasingly becoming a sobering possibility.
These types of thoughts are going through their heads:
Is my job secure?
What if I get sick?
Can the virus live on takeout pizza boxes?
My 6-year-old has been playing Minecraft for three weeks straight, am I a bad parent?
The importance of compassionate management
It’s your managers, first and foremost, who can guide your employees through this. But your managers are dealing with the same things.
A sudden change in the practice of management can be hard on managers. They may worry about disruptions to the workflow they’re accountable for. Some may feel they have to be physically present to be good coaches, unsure that they can engage workers from a distance. Rather more negatively, there are still some managers who don’t trust workers they can’t see. All of them will have to manage workers in a new way, and fast. Gallup
How can HR Directors, executives and business owners help managers successfully manage newly remote employees?
Don’t assume your managers know how to handle this abrupt change. Be specific about what you want them to do. Do you expect them to check in with their teams daily? Provide resources for them to help their teams adjust.
Now, let’s discuss what managers need to be doing.
7 Tips For Managing Newly Remote Employees
1. Set clear expectations
All of us need a plan to follow. Especially when we are stressed and distracted.
Make sure your managers set clear expectations with their teams. Newly remote workers might have children at home. Are they expected to work a normal schedule? How quickly should an employee respond to a Slack message?
Help employees set up a routine for at-home working. Though this is a basic productivity technique, don’t assume they are automatically doing it. Even if they followed a structured schedule at the office, it may have fallen by the wayside. Help them set up a basic schedule with enough flexibility to adapt to changing routines.
2. Use repetition. Use repetition.
Our anxiety meters are pegged day after day. It’s hard to remember things. It’s hard to stay focused. Your managers can help their teams by patiently repeating what’s important.
The 10x10x10 rule applies here: Say something 10 times in 10 different ways for people to retain 10%. “4 Actions to be a Strong Leader During COVID-19 Disruption,” Gartner
Use your HR portal or company message board to repeat important information:
- CDC coronavirus updates, health and social distancing advice
- Updated COVID-related regulations for the states in which you have employees
- Company PTO policies, government sick leave updates, FMLA specifics
- Expressions of gratitude for employees’ hard work and specific contributions (name names!)
- Tips on using videoconferencing applications (e.g. how to upload a personal photo for a virtual background)
3. Be transparent about your company’s response to the pandemic
Engaging work can be a welcome escape when life has been turned upside down. But when you don’t know what’s going on at work, it makes a fraught situation even worse.
In the previous step, we discussed setting clear expectations. This brings transparency to the employee-manager relationship. Your employees deserve to know what the executive team is doing as well. Are they considering furloughs? Are they closing some locations? Are they applying for government relief to help recoup operating expenses? If you have employees worried about being laid off, it would be reassuring to know that leadership is proactively working to keep everyone on the payroll.
With coronavirus uncertainty spiking anxiety, one thing managers do have control over is being completely clear on company goals and guidelines. Keep Slack an open space to discuss issues and be honest with employees about what’s going on in the management level. Make goals and make them apparent, and workers will step up to the plate. Business Insider
Be specific about your company’s response to the pandemic and economic situation. The steps will be different whether or not your company is an essential business.
In times of uncertainty, it’s helpful to provide your team with tangible action items. Discussing your own next steps or recommending next steps to your audience gives them a sense of control so they feel like they are contributing to stabilization. Use language such as, “Here are the steps we are taking” or “Here’s what you can do” to demonstrate action. “How to Reassure Your Team When the News is Scary,” Allison Shapira, Professor of Communications at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business Review
4. Be realistic about productivity
If your employees started working at home in the past month, they would still be in a transition period–even if there wasn’t a pandemic. Don’t expect the same productivity and focus they had in the office.
Work extra hard to communicate in a level manner, emphasize verbal support and encouragement, and if at all possible, avoid criticism. Your workers won’t be at 100% during this time, but by being a source of stability, you maximize the productivity that your employees are able to have in this situation. (Source)
5. Be proactive about employee engagement
Employee engagement has been a buzzy topic in the HR space for years. The fiercely competitive hiring environment has kept the focus on how engagement improves performance, morale, and retention. But just because it’s self-serving from a profitability perspective, it doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.
First, ask each team member how they are doing.
Remote workers’ perspectives can provide rare insights into the organization. Shy, lonely workers need to hear they offer unique value–it can ease social anxiety–and outgoing, lonely workers need more contact. Either way, their insights on the work environment can bring to light connections they ought to make, as well as show managers new ways to improve processes. “How to Manage the Loneliness and Isolation of Remote Workers,” Adam Hickman, Ph.D.
After asking well-chosen questions, make a conscious effort to listen and understand their answers.
Even a general question such as “How is this remote work situation working out for you so far?” can elicit important information that you might not otherwise hear. Once you ask the question, be sure to listen carefully to the response, and briefly restate it back to the employee, to ensure that you understood correctly. Let the employee’s stress or concerns (rather than your own) be the focus of this conversation. “A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers,” Harvard Business Review
If you have been meaning to start some engagement programs, now is the time to put them into practice. Even small things can have a big impact. It’s a fun, creative exercise to figure out how to adapt them to managing newly remote workers.
- Use your HR portal to ask employees for suggestions for remote engagement programs. The most successful engagement programs often come from the bottom, not the top of the org chart.
- In addition, look at things other companies are doing to promote engagement for remote employees
These are some remote employee engagement ideas from Reddit (in their own words):
- I started a Teams channel for our HR team to share pictures of their dogs. Just the little things to remain connected.
- There’s an increase of employee appreciation. Virtual gift cards for delivery services and such for a job well done.
- Co-workers are picking a “remote” buddy and they’ll touch base every day. Some smaller teams are having virtual happy hours or coffee chats. My direct manager has a daily trivia question she’ll ask and whoever gets the most right by the end of this quarantine gets a prize.
- Slack works really well for bringing people together. We have a kids channel for people to share photos of their kids, some people have pets channels or other conversation starters. Also, we have a kudos channel where people can say thanks, awesome job to other coworkers.
6. Share your webcam during video conferences
It’s easier to stay focused on the conversation when you can watch the speaker. When none of the participants have their cameras on, the mind tends to wander.
Swallow your pride. Even if you badly need a haircut, turn on your camera. Take off that stained t-shirt and put on a shirt that’s appropriate for your company. If there is real life in the background, all the better. It’s comforting to be reminded that others are experiencing the same struggles.
Effective managers are always on the lookout for signs that an employee needs extra attention. It will be easier to respond to employees’ needs if you can get them to turn on their cameras. Facial cues can be as revealing as the words a person is speaking.
Should managers require their team members to turn on their webcam during virtual meetings? Psychologists warn managers to tread carefully. Encourage, but don’t insist. Give them time. After a few weeks, they might become confident enough to share their webcam.
7. Be empathetic but positive
This is a balancing act. Validate your employees’ stresses. Then build them up and point them forward.
During team and one-on-one video meetings, it may be appropriate to set aside a little time for venting. But don’t end the meeting on a downer. When you’ve acknowledged the gravity of the situation and validated their concerns, shift gears. Affirm your confidence in your team’s ability.
Research on emotional intelligence and emotional contagion tells us that employees look to their managers for cues about how to react to sudden changes or crisis situations. Effective leaders take a two-pronged approach, both acknowledging the stress and anxiety that employees may be feeling in difficult circumstances, but also providing affirmation of their confidence in their teams, using phrases such as “we’ve got this,” or “this is tough, but I know we can handle it,” or “let’s look for ways to use our strengths during this time.” With this support, employees are more likely to take up the challenge with a sense of purpose and focus. Harvard Business Review
Mentoring your managers is critical right now. You’ve got to be at the top of your game.
The team at ApplicantStack wishes you success as you guide your managers during this difficult time.
Updated April 23, 2020.
What programs in the recent relief bills help small businesses?
In March 2020, the federal government passed three multi trillion-dollar relief bills which represent the largest economic stimulus in US history.
- The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act–Passed March 6, 2020
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)–Passed March 18, 2020)
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act–Passed March 27, 2020
Small Business Tax Credits and Forgivable Loans
In this article, we focus on two small business relief programs. They are part of the second and third bills. The programs we address are:
- Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave (Part of the FFCRA)
- Paycheck Protection Program (Part of the CARES Act)
Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave are part of the FFCRA that includes the EPSLA and the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the CARES act.
What are most important things for small businesses to do right now?
It’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed right now. Many business owners do. Let’s take things one step at a time. First;
- Track employee hours for at-home, onsite, and mobile employees
- Don’t cut wages, furlough employees, or lay off employees before you learn what you can qualify for
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
What is the EPSLA?
The FFCRA requires employers to provide paid leave through two separate components;
- The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (Expanded FMLA)
The EPSLA is the second law contained in the FFCRA that provides paid leave. Specifically, it provides full-time employees up to 80 hours (two weeks) of paid sick leave for basically the same coronavirus related reasons as outlined in the EFMLEA.
We will now answer employers’ frequently asked questions regarding these programs.
How does an employee qualify for leave under the programs?
You will recognize that many of these qualifiers are contained in FMLA. The notable addition is that employees may qualify if they are unable to work because the employee must care for a son or daughter whose school or daycare is closed due to a public health emergency or if the employee is under a quarantine order by any jurisdiction.
Can I qualify for the EPSLA tax credit if I have employees outside the U.S.?
The 500-employee requirement applies to only employees in any state of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any U.S. territory.
How do I calculate required paid sick leave if my part-time employee’s schedule varies from week to week?
Use a six-month average. If the employee’s number of normal hours scheduled has not yet been determined, or if the employee’s schedule fluctuates from week to week, you may use a six-month average to calculate the average daily hours.
When calculating EPSLA pay, am I supposed to count overtime?
Yes. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires qualifying employers to pay workers for hours they would have been normally scheduled to work even if that is more than 40 hours/week. However, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act requires that paid sick leave be paid only up to 80 hours over a two-week period.
What is the easiest way to track employee hours, PTO accruals, and overtime?
Employee time tracking systems create online timecards as employees log their hours with an online web clock. They also track PTO, sick leave, and overtime.
I can’t wait until I file my taxes next year. How can I make payroll right now?
The answer to this question brings us to the second topic of this article, The Paycheck Protection program.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The PPP component in the CARES act is designed to provide loans to businesses to cover qualified operating expenses for a limited period. If the requirements are met, the loan can be forgiven. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer this program.
How much of the loan can be forgiven?
Employers may receive 100% reimbursement if the conditions are met.
What types of business operating expenses apply?
- Interest on mortgage debt
- Health insurance costs
Is my business eligible for a Paycheck Protection Loan?
Your business is eligible if you:
- Have fewer than 500 employees
- Part-time, full-time, temp, and independent contractors count as employees
- Are a single-member LLC, corporation, 501(c)(3), sole proprietor, Veteran organization, or Tribal business
What should small business owners do right now to determine if they qualify for a Paycheck Protection Loan?
- Look at your payroll to see if you kept the employees you had
- If you reduced your staff, there will be a reduction in loan forgiveness available
- If you’ve cut wages by 25%, that dollar value will affect the loan forgiveness as well.
Can I qualify for a Paycheck Protection Loan if I have already let employees go?
Yes. If you bring them back on your payroll.
Where can I find more information about tracking employee time, earning tax credits or qualifying for a Paycheck Protection Loan?
How Do I Pay Quarantined Workers?
Use Geofencing to Track Remote Employees
How To Manage PTO For Remote Workers
What Are The Best Guidelines For Creating A PTO Policy For Your Business?
How to Buy Employee Time Clocks For Small Business in 2020: The All-Encompassing Guide
New fully integrated feature speeds communication with applicants and increases engagement
Salt Lake City, Utah
Tuesday, July 1, 2019
SwipeClock today announced unlimited texting is now available in ApplicantStack, the top-rated applicant tracking solution included in WorkforceHUB or as a standalone product. Customers that activate the feature before July 8, 2019, receive their first month free—a savings of $25 in the first month. ApplicantStack allows collaborative, paperless recruiting and onboarding. SwipeClock is a leading provider of simple and affordable workforce management services.
“Texting is the communication method of choice for many applicants,” said Coleman Barney, SwipeClock CEO. “This new capability speeds communication and response times and helps streamline and shorten the hiring process for our customers.
Once texting is activated, ApplicantStack users are immediately able to text applicants by clicking on a mobile icon next to the applicant’s contact information. Landlines are automatically recognized and excluded from texting. Users can enter both text and an optional link to a questionnaire. Reply messages are displayed within ApplicantStack, which also keeps the messages as part of the applicant’s complete history.
ApplicantStack with texting enabled helps hiring managers communicate more effectively with job applicants. Managers who communicate with job applicants by text can expect a 98 percent open rate — far greater than with email. Candidates are more likely to read text messages and typically respond within three minutes.
Texting capability is available for US and Canadian users only.
SwipeClock is a leader in simple and affordable workforce management solutions. More than 1,000 payroll and HR service providers partner with SwipeClock, empowering 35,000+ businesses and their 1,000,000+ employees to reduce labor costs, comply with regulations, and maximize profits.
SwipeClock solutions streamline HR management, from applicant tracking to timekeeping, advanced scheduling, benefits enrollment, secure online document storage, employee engagement and automated workflows. These solutions are integrated and mobile-ready.
SwipeClock products include WorkforceHUB, TimeWorksPlus, TimeSimplicity, ApplicantStack, and intelligent hardware clocks TimeWorksTouch and TimeWorksTUFF for rugged timekeeping in the field.
ApplicantStack has exciting news. We now offer texting!
Sign Up For Texting Now And Get July Free
Send unlimited texts for free during July. Just sign up before July 8.
How Does ApplicantStack Texting Work?
- ApplicantStack users can contact candidates via text message in addition to email
- Texts can include links to questionnaires
- Complete conversation history is retained and can be viewed by any user
Affordable Texting For All Users On Your Account
Unlimited text messaging is only $25 per month. All users on your account can text any applicant in your account for one low monthly price.
Why Is Texting A Must-Have For Recruiting?
Consider the following:
- 98% of text messages are opened. By comparison, the email open rate is 20%.
- 95% of text messages are read within 3 minutes—most in UNDER 5 SECONDS! (source: Forbes, Slick Text)
- The response rate for SMS is 45%. Email response rate is 6%. (Source: Gartner)
- People respond to text messages in 90 seconds. It takes 90 minutes, on average, for an email response. (Source: CTIA)
Any way you measure it, texting reigns supreme.
Connect With Applicants Immediately
You can send a text instead of an email any time you need to communicate with an applicant:
Easier For You And Easier For The Applicant
Once you text an applicant, they can text you going forward. Any user on your hiring team can respond. The applicant will always see the same number.
This is the natural way for applicants to communicate. If they have a question or need to reschedule, they can send a quick text while they’re thinking about it.
Because of the near immediate response rate, texting can shorten time-to-hire considerably. Stop waiting for email responses. Eliminate a common process bottleneck.
Texting Adds Even More Value To ApplicantStack
When you add texting to your ApplicantStack account, you extract even more value from the top ATS on the market.
Using texting in addition to email sets your company apart. Companies that connect via texting are up-to-the-minute technologically. Adopt texting now and enjoy a competitive advantage.
Our new texting feature is available to new and existing direct sale customers. Although this feature isn’t available during our free trial, you can see why thousands of recruiting professionals use ApplicantStack. For more information, contact ApplicantStack.
Source for texting statistics: https://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2017/33045/email-vs-sms-battle-of-the-heavyweights-infographic
New connectivity adds applicant tracking to HR workforce management with a click of a button
Salt Lake City, Utah
May 20, 2019
SwipeClock today announced new connectivity between ApplicantStack and their WorkforceHUB and TimeWorksPlus products. This new connectivity adds seamless transfer of new employee information from the hiring process to onboarding and time tracking. Employers can take advantage of greater efficiency between hiring and managing new employees.
ApplicantStack is SwipeClock’s top-rated applicant tracking software for small to mid-sized businesses and recruiters. SwipeClock Partners can now enable applicant tracking for their clients with one click providing HR administrators a single login to manage recruiting, hiring, onboarding and HR functions. New hire onboarding initiates automatically when a candidate is hired and employees can be automatically added to time tracking, too.
“Recruiting and hiring are integral to HR management services,” said Coleman Barney, SwipeClock CEO. “With this integration, our partners and their clients gain tremendous efficiency at the beginning of the employee lifecycle.”
Recruiters and hiring managers use applicant tracking software to solicit, track, interview and hire new employees. ApplicantStack manages job descriptions and requisitions, posting to job boards, accepting and processing job applications, interviewing candidates, and extending job offers.
Payroll providers and service bureaus who partner with SwipeClock can now extend their service offering beyond payroll to a full HR suite including recruiting, hiring, onboarding, scheduling, timekeeping and ongoing employee engagement.
With ApplicantStack, SwipeClock’s offerings now include timekeeping with physical and web-based clocks, advanced scheduling, secure delivery of payroll records, and HR process automation for recruiting, onboarding, performance reviews, benefits enrollment and employee engagement. The connectivity with ApplicantStack brings critical HR management functions together into a seamless environment for greater efficiency in hiring and onboarding new employees.
SwipeClock is a leader in simple and affordable workforce management services. Our more than 1,000 partners have empowered more than 35,000 businesses to reduce labor costs, comply with regulatory mandates, and maximize profits. SwipeClock cloud products (WorkforceHUB, TimeWorksPlus, TimeSimplicity, and ApplicantStack) and hardware clocks (TimeWorksTouch, TimeWorksTUFF and others) provide instant employee access to automated timekeeping, scheduling, leave management, HR dashboards, and other HR resources. With SwipeClock, employers transform labor from a cost of doing business to a competitive advantage.
Vice President of Product Marketing
With the recent acquisition of ApplicantStack, we are updating our logo to match the SwipeClock branding. We are excited to unveil our new logo!
We will now be a part of the WorkforceHUB suite:
WorkforceHUB is a one-stop source for payroll and HR related information. Employees get the information they need through a single portal, saving time and reducing errors or miscommunication.
The portal includes core HR workflows, employee engagement tools, payroll records and easy connection to third-party apps. TimeWorksPlus and TimeSimplicity come plugged into the hub, complete with all their timekeeping and scheduling capability. Employees access the portal via smartphones, tablets or other web-connected devices.
Manage Your Workforce Easier Than Ever
Punch tracking, job costing, break enforcement, time-off requests, time card approvals and accruals. All TimeWorksPlus features included.
Build schedules based on business need, skills required, labor law constraints, employee preferences and much more. Manage multiple shifts with ease. All TimeSimplicity features included.
Bi-Directional Payroll Integration (select platforms)
Give employees easy access to pay stubs, 1099s, direct deposit receipts and W2s. Empower them to update tax details (W4) and personal information.
Simplify the new hire experience. Step employees through activation, benefits, handbook review and more. Ensure timely and accurate completion of all tasks.
Streamline benefits renewal and change processes. Provide cost analysis, selected benefits, and benefits summary confirmation. Step employees through enrollment including electronic signature.
Add structure to the review process. Create your own questions and track responses. Attach employee and manager review documents. Drive the process to completion.
Easily build workflows for any common task. Automate processes that require acknowledgment to ensure compliance.
Create and display alerts within the portal. Use templates for common alerts. Set triggers by recipient type or hire date. Build custom fields such as next review date. Copy the manager.
Publish a company directory and announcements, birthday list, recognition wall and more. Enable an anonymous suggestion box. Provide a document and link library, and require read receipts for key items such as the employee handbook.
LEARN HOW SWIPECLOCK CAN HELP YOU
See why more than 30,000+ employers manage their teams with our products.
Click here to learn more.
For more information about the SwipeClock acquisition, click here to learn more about the acquisition.