Hiring bias limits efforts to increase workforce diversity. Companies that do more than pay lip service to diversity identify the types of bias in their process. After that, they create a detailed plan to eliminate it. To carry out their plan, they dedicate the necessary resources, measure outcomes and modify as needed.
Working toward demographic parity is not just the right thing to do from a moral standpoint. It’s the best thing to do from a business standpoint. At the end of this article, we discuss the benefits of increasing workforce diversity.
First, we’ll discuss seven insidious types of hiring bias. After that, we will outline an 11-step roadmap to eliminate the bias and build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
7 Types of Hiring Bias to Root Out
These are categorized as cognitive biases. A cognitive bias is a flaw in judgment. Think about a coin toss that comes up heads ten times in a row. While there’s always a 50% chance that the next flip will be tails–it seems unlikely.
1. The Halo Effect
We all know that first impressions matter. This is related to the halo effect. Once we have a favorable opinion of someone, it takes a lot to change our mind. Another element of the halo effect is the idea that because a person excels in one area, he or she will also excel in others. For example, we might assume that because someone is an excellent public speaker, he will also make a good content writer. In reality, these skills don’t necessarily influence each other.
2. Expectation Bias
This is related to the Halo Effect discussed previously. A recruiter might read through dozens of resumes. One candidate looks particularly good ‘on paper.’ When that person comes in for an interview, the recruiter may be more likely to overlook obvious flaws. For example, the person doesn’t make eye contact or is inarticulate. If you expect someone to be something–whether that’s good or bad–he or she is likely to fulfill those expectations.
3. Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that validates your current opinion. For example, people who tune into Sean Hannity are typically more conservative. People who watch Rachel Maddow are typically more liberal. As a hiring bias, it’s the tendency to focus only on the aspects of a person that coincide with the recruiter’s pre-established opinion.
4. Anchoring Bias
Anchoring is a hiring bias in which the hiring manager fixates on one piece of information. As a result, they give it more weight than it deserves. Say, for instance, you have a candidate who is the president of the local Mensa Society. Even if the candidate isn’t the best for the job, it may be tempting to overlook her flaws because ‘She’s in Mensa!’
5. Social Comparison Bias
Managers hiring for their team are especially vulnerable to this one. The social comparison bias is the tendency to dislike or feel competitive with others who may have similar skills. For example, suppose you’re known as the company’s expert on a certain software application. You may feel reluctant to hire someone whose skills exceed your own. For decades, research has shown that this is a relatively common phenomenon. Therefore, it’s an issue you’ll want hiring managers to consciously avoid.
6. Ingroup Bias
Ingroup bias is the tendency to favor people who are similar to oneself. Those who are part of the same ‘group.’ Like sexism or racism–it’s blatantly unfair. But there are less obvious examples of ingroup bias. Some hiring managers, for example, might look more favorably on fellow alumni. You may feel a sense of camaraderie with a candidate who participated in the same fraternity or sorority. There are several types of ingroups, so make sure your team watches out for them.
7. Shared Information Bias
While this type of bias may not directly affect your candidates, it can certainly draw out the hiring process. Shared information bias is the tendency for members of a group to discuss information that everybody is already aware of, rather than focusing on hidden information that is only available to some. For example, if one interviewer notices an irritating quality in a candidate, he or she should share this with the group–even if it doesn’t seem relevant. All members of the team should have the full scope of information.
Now that we have discussed types of unconscious bias, hopefully you will consciously avoid them. Many experts suggest that AI is the solution. An applicant tracking system (ATS) can be used in many ways to root bias out of your hiring process. For example, an ATS can hide aspects of a candidate’s profile that you don’t want to consider. Also, you can use an ATS to manage gender- and ethnically-neutral job descriptions. Plus, you can decrease the shared information bias when everyone keeps notes in a central location. Lastly, tracking all candidates and hires in a centralized location makes it easier to track your diversity metrics.
An 11-Step Roadmap for Increasing Diversity Through Recruitment
Once you’ve identified the types of hiring bias going on, it’s time to make a plan to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate them. Use these steps to create a plan designed for your company. Many factors will affect your plan. For example; your industry, the size of your hiring team, the number of yearly hires, and your current level of diversity.
1. Set Measurable Goals
Firstly, assess your workforce. Consider gender, ethnicity, and age. Also educational background, socioeconomic status and geographic location if you have remote workers. (If you don’t have remote workers, why not?)
In addition, be mindful of not discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Though this information would be difficult and inappropriate to address in an assessment. (Under no circumstances should you ask any employee about his/her/their sexual orientation or gender identity! It would be illegal and in extremely poor taste.)
Secondly, create a diversity mission statement. Let your employees know about your diversity hiring goals. If you use an HR portal, remind your employees of your diversity mission frequently.
Thirdly–and this is most important–make a specific goal to increase your target hires in each underrepresented group by X in X months.
Lastly, include your diversity mission statement in your employee handbook and training materials. Put the statement on every piece of recruiting communication. Use it on internal documents so it’s always top of mind for your employees.
Keep in mind that diversity doesn’t just mean varying nationalities. It’s also important to hire professionals from a range of industry backgrounds and diversified levels of experience while paying attention to gender balance. The beauty of diversity is there is no perfect formula. Every team will look unique. (Sheryl Lyons, “The Benefits of Creating a Diverse Workforce,” Forbes)
2. Incorporate Employee Resource Groups
Make diverse candidates feel more comfortable by using employee resource groups (ERGs) during interviews. (Hopefully, you have ERGs. If not, encourage your staff to create them and support them in the effort.)
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives. Other benefits include the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement, and expanded marketplace reach. (Catalyst)
3. Review Resumes Blind
Studies show that resumes with white-sounding names receive more callbacks or interviews than those that seem non-white. Consequently, many candidates ‘whiten’ their names and backgrounds. But why should a candidate’s name affect whether he or she is a fit for an open role? You can use an ATS to remove names and hide demographic information. This will help your team avoid unconscious bias during the resume review process.
4. Diversify Your Hiring Team
Is your hiring team diverse? Applicants will notice. If minority candidates have several job openings to choose from, the makeup of the interview team could be a factor in their decision. Diversify your interviewing team. This will help them make better collective decisions.
5. Train Employees on Hiring Bias
You can’t increase workforce diversity if your employees don’t understand unconscious bias. Therefore, it’s important to conduct formal training. You can create your own internal training program, hire a consultant, or use online resources like Google’s unconscious bias training.
The Harvard Business School’s Implicit Project (requires registration) is an eye-opening exercise. It can help people recognize and measure their biases. At the start of training, consider having participants take a few surveys to learn what social stereotypes they may be harboring. Encourage them to challenge their assumptions.
6. Retool Your Job Descriptions and Job Requirements
Do you use gender-neutral terminology? Scrutinize your job descriptions and take out any gender-specific language. Instead of ‘he’ use ‘he or she’ or ‘s/he’. You can always use the job title in place of any pronoun.
Many words used frequently in job postings discourage women from applying. Here is a free gender decoder tool. Just paste in your job description. Create job description templates after carefully crafting them to avoid bias. Manage them in an applicant tracking system.
Just as important as giving your job descriptions a makeover, consider your job requirements. If ‘corporate culture match’ is a hiring criterion, remove it. This is an easy place for unconscious bias to creep in. It will hinder your efforts to increase workforce diversity. Furthermore, if your company culture reflects a homogenous workforce, you don’t want to use it as a measuring stick anyway. Increasing workforce diversity will improve your company culture.
7. Use Structured Interviewing
In addition to retooling job descriptions, rewrite interview scripts to avoid bias. Train your interviewers to use them correctly along with EEOC guidelines. Manage your structured interviewing scripts in your ATS. Standardizing interview questions enables a consistent and fair experience for all candidates.
Lastly, remind employees to avoid asking questions that could lead to a candidate sharing his or her age, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity. This information doesn’t relate to a candidate’s ability to perform in the role and could bias hiring decisions. If the candidate volunteers the information, instruct your interviewers to steer the conversation elsewhere and discourage them from sharing the information with the rest of the panel.
8. Seek Diverse Referrals
In addition to revamping recruitment communications, use your employee referral program. Encourage employees to refer applicants from underrepresented groups. Our closest associates are likely from our same demographic group. When moving outward in our network, however, we find more diversity. Therefore, encourage your employees to look beyond their first- and second-degree connections.
Pinterest created a program designed to increase the diversity in their engineering teams. They asked their engineers to refer potential job applicants from target demographics. They discovered that if their employees made a conscious effort, they could find referrals from underrepresented groups. Pinterest’s diversity referral program was a success. They are taking additional steps to increase diversity in other departments. (Medium)
9. Improve Onboarding
You might wonder what onboarding has to do with workforce diversity. It comes after a candidate accepts the job, after all. The reason onboarding is key is because good onboarding reduces turnover. Hiring more employees from inadequately represented groups is the first step. Retaining them is the second step.
Consider the employees who have quit your company in the last five years. Identify whether minorities, women or older employees have shorter tenure. If they do, you’ve got problems with culture and management. Your company may not be welcoming to underrepresented groups. The topic of turnover leads to the next section.
10. Use Exit Interviews
Hopefully, you don’t have a lot of employees quitting. If you do, use exit interviews to learn why they are leaving. You may discover you have problems with your managers. Perhaps your company doesn’t support work/life balance. Maybe there are limited opportunities to progress along a career path. Are your advancement policies discriminatory? Find out what’s going on and fix it.
11. Revisit Your Benefits
Does your company recognize employees in different life stages? Do you support working mothers and fathers? Which holidays do you recognize? If your benefits are designed for a homogenous workforce, it will hamper your workforce diversity goals.
Offer benefits such as onsite daycare, childcare subsidies and flexible schedules, and let new hires know that you are willing to accommodate cultural and religious holidays and diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) apparel choices.
Wall Street Journal
The Business Advantages of Workforce Diversity
Let’s discuss the benefits of workforce diversity from a business standpoint. A diverse workforce has increased depth of experience, knowledge. and skills. It is more productive and innovative. It’s impossible to successfully introduce a product into a new market if you don’t understand the culture. Diverse teams can better serve diverse clients.
Through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets. And gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams by 50%, on average. (Gartner)
The consulting group BCG found that organizations with above-average diversity on their management teams had higher innovation revenue. 19 percentage points higher, in fact, than companies with below-average leadership diversity. 45% of total revenue versus just 26%. Note that this study involved leadership teams. This underscores the importance of increasing diversity at the highest levels. If you focus only on entry-level positions, you won’t experience the same benefits.
In conclusion, let’s reiterate the steps to increase workforce diversity. First, understand the types of hiring bias. Second, identify which ones are inherent in your process. Third, create a detailed plan to eliminate the biases. Fourth, set a measurable goal for increasing diversity. Fifth, follow the plan and measure results along the way. Sixth, tweak the plan as needed until you reach your diversity goals.
Human resources functions are critical for business recovery. HR is tasked with redesigning processes for safety and compliance. They must also lower overhead. For some small businesses, survival depends on it.
How can Human Resources functions reduce labor costs?
Let’s suppose you need to reduce expenses by 20%. You can’t move forward without bringing back the employees you furloughed. Your experienced high performers will help you get back on your feet. You don’t want to cut their pay. Like your business, they aren’t exactly rolling in dough right now.
Where do you start?
Consolidate Your Human Resources Functions
Here is your solution. It consists of two straightforward components:
1. Get a unified Human Resources portal
2. Use best practices for Human Resources functions
5 Steps to Lower Costs 20%
Drastic cost-cutting requires everyone’s cooperation. This means executives, managers, administrators, and employees.
First, we’ll do the math. Then we’ll discuss unified Human Resources portals in more detail.
1. Reduce Overtime—5% Savings
Managers can’t be full-time overtime cops. They wouldn’t get anything else done. An HR portal monitors overtime. It sends the manager an alert when an employee is approaching the end of their straight time hours for the week. The manager can take the necessary staffing actions to save the labor budget from time-and-a-half.
2. Optimize Shift Scheduling—3% Savings
Predict scheduling needs to prevent expensive overstaffing. When you unify human resources functions, the system collects data. Use historical data to forecast staffing requirements.
3. Reduce Cost-Per-Hire—5% Savings
The applicant tracking tool in the HR portal improves efficiency. It saves your hiring team all that tedious manual work they hate. The system stores job descriptions, applicant questionnaires, interview scripts, and all the email templates discussed previously. It also shortens time-to-hire which further optimizes your hiring budget.
4. Automate Human Resources Functions–4% Savings
The HR portal automates up to 80% of Human Resources functions. The best practice here is to create checklists to eliminate redundancies. Assign tasks to team members and record progress in the system. Collaborate in a centralized interface. Get rid of spreadsheets that aren’t updated in real time.
5. Reduce Employee Time Theft–3% Savings
When an employee misrepresents more hours than actually worked, it’s called time theft.
There are several different methods:
- Punching in earlier than authorized
- Punching out later than authorized
- Failing to punch out for unpaid breaks and meals
- Buddy punching
A unified HR system has many options for time tracking. Workers can clock in with a web clock or hardware clock. Depending on the type of time clock, employees can buddy punch by sharing their system pass codes, swipe cards, or fobs.
Sync your HRMS with a biometric time clock. It requires a biological identifier so employees can’t clock in for each other.
Managers set shift rules in the system. The time clock enforces schedules based on the custom settings.
What is a Unified Human Resources Portal?
A unified HR portal is an integrated suite of tools. A systems that manages all HR processes is called a Human Resources Management System (HRMS).
It is a cloud-based system employees access with a connected device. For example, a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The software has an interface (or gateway) through which employees, managers, and admin handle HR-related transactions.
How Does an Employee Use The HR Portal?
The employee opens the company HR portal. If they are using a mobile phone, they use the companion app.
They are greeted by a branded dashboard. If they are an hourly worker, they clock in for their shift. You can customize prompts for critical company messaging. For example, employers are using their HRMS to remind employees of social distancing, work from home policies, and the latest COVID-19 workplace guidelines.
HR Portal Employee Dashboard
The employee dashboard has, well…everything.
- Clock in/out, current punch status
- At a glance: next pay date, link to company directory
- Payroll: links to recent pay stubs, tax forms
- Engagement: employee recognition board, check-ins, anonymous suggestion box, chat
- Documents: employee handbook, training materials, benefits forms
- Work schedule
- Time Off: requests, approvals, PTO balance
- General HR: to do lists, employee filing cabinet
How Does a Manager Use The HR Portal?
The portal gives the manager complete employee oversight. They have all employee information in a centralized location. It is updated in real time.
They see who is clocked in and when they clocked in. GPS-enabled timekeeping lets them see where mobile or offsite employees are working.
All requests and approvals are managed and stored in the same place. Managers approve shift changes and time off requests. They monitor and approve time cards.
Manager Shift Scheduling
In the schedule module, managers create employee schedules. The scheduling tool has drag-and-drop. Just drag employees into shifts. Use the system templates or make your own. For example, if your staffing fluctuates during the year, make a template for the busy season and another for the slow season. Copy schedules forward.
The schedule tool will alert you if you double book an employee at two locations. Set limits for maximum hours to prevent expensive overtime.
Do you have shift requirements for skills and/or certifications? For example, a restaurant that employs minors who can’t serve alcohol. The manager needs some servers of legal age for every shift. If this is the case, set shift skill requirements. Each employees’ qualifications are recorded in their profile. The schedule tool compares shift requirements with the employees scheduled. It will alert you if you don’t schedule the pre-set number of employees with the necessary skills/certifications.
How Does The HR Team Use The System?
The system manages the paperwork and other functions with workflow stages. Let’s discuss system actions linked to workflow stages.
Workflow Stages Trigger Actions
This begins during the hiring process. When the applicant applies online, it triggers an application confirmation email. If the hiring manager wants to advance the applicant to the interview stage, the system sends an email with a link to the interview self scheduler. The emails use merge fields to customize the message with the job role, applicant name, and other pertinent information.
As the applicant advances through the recruiting stages, the system performs actions relevant to the hiring stage.
When the hiring manager changes a new hire’s stage to onboarding, the system emails all the new hire paperwork. E-signature allows the employee to sign the necessary documents. Read receipts let the HR team know when documents have been completed.
The HR team monitors the health benefits enrollment and tax paperwork. The employee enters their direct deposit information for the payroll department.
WorkforceHUB Unifies Human Resources Functions
SwipeClock WorkforceHUB is an affordable, intuitive HRMS that can unify your Human Resources functions. If you decide to implement a unified solution, keep in mind that one million employees use SwipeClock products every day. We’ve been helping small to mid-size organizations lower labor costs since 1999.
Post-COVID business recovery depends on HR leadership. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., President & CEO at SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), called HR professionals corporate first responders. They are on the front lines helping organizations work through pandemic-triggered disruption.
HR will need to be the stewards of physical and mental health, continuity, and wellness. Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
HR first responders will help restore economic security for businesses, communities, employees and their families.
Consider the ways the coronavirus pandemic has required HR leadership:
- Abrupt workforce relocation due to shelter-in-place and lockdown orders
- Widespread absences due to quarantined employees, sick employees, and employees who can’t work due to lack of childcare
- Mass lay-offs and furloughs for businesses that had to close temporarily or reduce services
- Employee fear and anxiety
- High-volume remote hiring and onboarding for essential businesses
- High volume hiring for essential businesses and industries
- Managing new paid sick leave, expanded FMLA and Paycheck Protection Loan qualification
- Employee health and wellness policies
How can Human Resources drive business recovery? With ingenuity, agility and compassion.
In the earliest days, we thought [coronavirus] was strictly a healthcare issue. But it became clear how quickly it morphed into a people issue and how CHROs are playing a critical role in helping their companies get through this. Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
SwipeClock WorkforceHUB Human Resources Management System (HRMS) is your first responder toolkit.
HR First Responder Toolkit For Business Recovery
WorkforceHUB includes the following:
- TimeWorksPlus for mobile and remote employee timekeeping
- Geolocation and geofencing for location tracking
- ApplicantStack for mobile applicant tracking and remote hiring
- In-application texting
- Video interviewing capability
- Structured interview scripts
- Designed for essential business high-volume hiring
- Absence management
- Remote onboarding/offboarding
- Online new hire portal with e-signature
- Onboarding checklists for administrations with completion tracking
- 100% remote onboarding/offboarding
- Shift planning platform
- Staggered schedules
- Schedule rules for occupancy limits
- Complicated team scheduling rotation for social distancing
- Employee wellness and engagement
- Manager checkins
- Recognition wall
- Anonymous suggestion box
- TimeWorksTouch employee time clock
- Biometric time clock with bacteria-resistant fingerprint register
- Customizable prompts for COVID-19 symptom checking
- Syncs with TimeWorksPlus for onsite and offsite clock in/out
HR first responders are exceptional communicators
As you create your business recovery plan, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of effective communication. The landscape has changed dramatically. As employees come back to the office, they will encounter a whole bunch of new rules. Workstations will be rearranged. There will be social distancing policies. They will have less face-to-face interaction with coworkers. Consistent, concise communication will help them succeed.
Dangerous rumors and worker fears can spread as quickly as a virus. It is imperative for companies to be able to reach all workers, including those not at the worksite, with regular, internally coordinated, factual updates about infection control, symptoms, and company policy regarding remote work and circumstances in which employees might be excluded from or allowed to return to the workplace. These communications should come from or be vetted by the emergency response team, and they should be carefully coordinated to avoid inconsistent policies being communicated by different managers or functions. Clearly this requires organizations to maintain current phone/text and email contact information for all employees and test organization-wide communication periodically. If you don’t have a current, universal contact capability already, now is a good time to create this. Harvard Business Review
Managers will need to over-communicate. They should interact with employees face-to-face (six feet apart, of course) as much as possible. They need to continue supporting at-home employees daily (or more often) by video conference. An HRMS can support communication by automating announcements, alerts, symptom checking, and policy education and reminders.
Our employees right now are looking for our leadership. They want to know that we can handle the unexpected. They want answers to their questions. While we might not know what’s happening with the virus, we do know how to run the business. Sharyn Lauby, HR Bartender
Human Resources is stepping up
HR first responders are up to the task. They will lead America’s businesses into a bright post-pandemic future.
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.
5 minute read. Last updated April 2, 2020
U.S. healthcare professionals are demonstrating once again that they are true heroes.
Well-designed technology is important in all aspects of healthcare from patient care to research to administration.
Let’s look at the importance of mobile healthcare workforce management solutions.
Healthcare organizations should use a Human Resources Management System (HRMS) with mobile tools:
- Lower administrative costs
- Improve patient care
- Increase employee satisfaction
- Track hours for EPSLA tax credits and small business coronavirus relief
Why Workforce Management is Critical: A Summary of 4 Key Findings
1. Unemployment in the healthcare sector was 2.1% December 2019. Last month, there were 1,117,000 job openings in the healthcare industry. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
2. Healthcare is the fastest growing industry: employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, adding about 1.9 million new jobs. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
3. The DOL continues to penalize home care agencies for minimum wage and overtime pay violations. A Virginia-based home health business, for example, agreed to pay $1.2 million for failing to pay overtime to workers from 2015-2017. (Home Health Care News)
4. Registered nurses, the occupation with the third highest job growth from 2018-2028, are projected to grow from 3,059,800 to 3,431,300, an increase of 371,500 new jobs. (AMN Healthcare)
What California’s AB 5 Means for Home Health Companies
AB 5 took effect January 1, 2020. Under the law, all workers are defined as “employees” in California.
AB 5’s three part test, called the ABC Test, uses these standards. All must be applicable to classify a worker as an independent contractor. (At Home Nursing Care)
The worker must be:
- Free from the control and direction of the hiring entity,
- Performing work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business,
- The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business.
What’s New In Mobile Workforce Management?
If you own a home healthcare business and have not explored the latest HRMS mobile tools, keep reading. New mobile time clocks ensure timekeeping accuracy wherever your employees are throughout the day or night.
Geofencing restricts out of area punches. Schedule enforcement restricts out-of-schedule punches.
Your supervisors will appreciate how easy it is to see what’s going on with everyone in their department. They can be set up quickly and are surprisingly affordable.
Mobile Tools for Home Health Aides
When your workers are mobile, ordinary employee timekeeping and scheduling tasks are more complex. It’s hard enough to track rotating nurse schedules in a busy LTC facility. When employees are spread across town, you need convenient mobile apps.
A home healthcare worker wakes up and hits the ground running. They check their patient roster and medication chart. “Do I have the necessary supplies for Mrs. Parker’s post-surgical needs?” “Is Mr. Jones still on the route, or was he transferred to residential care?”
They may battle commuter traffic to get to their first appointment. When the aide arrives, he or she helps the patient get bathed and dressed, which often requires heavy lifting. The caregiver then takes the patient’s blood pressure and other vital signs, administers meds, makes breakfast, and does some housekeeping.
A Difficult Job Requires an Easy Mobile App
Keep in mind that many patients are dealing with chronic pain, restricted mobility, and the limitations of aging, so it’s understandable that they are not always happy campers. (Who can blame them?) Working as a home health aide can be rewarding. But it’s definitely not easy to care for people with physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
The last thing a mobile worker needs to deal with is difficulty logging work hours, uncertainty about scheduling, or time card hassles. Burnout due to excessive overtime is common in the industry and, like many healthcare employees who work long hours; they live for their vacations. (“I better not get shorted on my PTO!”)
GPS Tracking is a Supervisor’s Best Friend
Being a supervisor is not a walk in the park, either. What if an aide wakes up with the flu when two others are on vacation? The sick one certainly can’t risk transmitting their illness to a patient whose immune system is already compromised. How can the supervisor quickly find a replacement so that all patients are visited on schedule?
HRMS scheduling tools help you manage large teams efficiently. Patients receive the care they deserve. Effective management is also key for controlling labor expenses.
Scheduling Mobile Workers
If you are responsible for scheduling, you know it can be pretty tricky. You have to take into account, oh, maybe a hundred variables. (I may be exaggerating, but it seems like it.) When creating schedules, you have to keep track of your employee’s certifications, patient visit durations, adequate shift coverage, patient status, travel time, and route details.
Scheduling impacts patient outcomes, profitability, employee satisfaction, and compliance.
- Mobile time clock apps capture hours and automatically tracks accruals
- Mobile employees can punch in from their smartphone or the tablet they are already using to record patient data
- GPS tracking records location of clock in/out
- Geofencing restricts out-of-area punches
- Aides can check schedules, request shift trades, receive automatic schedule updates and company announcements, approve time cards, and monitor accruals from any mobile device, any time of day
- Supervisors have real-time, location-specific oversight with pinpoint GPS
- Supervisors can create schedules in minutes using job codes, patient and employee locations, and hours thresholds to ensure efficiency and compliance
This user sums it up succinctly:
“By far, the biggest benefit of using TimeWorksPlus and TimeSimplicity is having visibility to ensure we have the right people, in the right places, at the right times to provide the best care possible.”
Breathe Easier Knowing You Are Protected
The healthcare industry has been under increased FLSA scrutiny in the past few years. Wise owners review their policies regularly
Pay special attention to minimum wage laws, employee classification, proper payment of overtime, Payroll Based Journal (for LTC), and ACA employee hours regulations. You may also live in a state that has added new Family Leave or predictive scheduling laws.
Did you know that employees can download a free time tracking app from the DOL website and log time? If an employee thinks they are being treated unfairly, he or she can request a DOL investigation.
Would your time and attendance records stand up to an audit?
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