Returning after Reopening

Returning after Reopening

Counties across the state and across the country are reopening as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. With most states operating under staggered reopening guidelines, many counties have met the guidelines to enter into “Phase 1” and “Phase 2” of the reopening process. Mask mandates are becoming more prevalent with businesses adhering to state and federal government regulations and OSHA and CDC guidelines.

As an employer, business operations are a top priority, but the safety and health of your employees should be right up there as well. How do you balance both? How do you reopen your organization and focus on business operations, but ensure that your employees are kept safe and just as important, feel safe when reentering the workforce?

Ensure Compliance with New Regulations and Orders – Most if not all states have some level of executive orders in place. Intended to provide additional regulations surrounding federal standards and expectations on maintaining safe working conditions, make certain that you are in compliance with your state’s specific rules and that health standards are met and maintained.

Prepare the Workplace – Based on those regulations and orders, ensure that the workplace is set up according to standards. Ensure that measures have been taken to meet social distancing rules, enforce rules regarding facial coverings, and identify best practices for maintaining disinfecting routines and identifying and eliminating any risks for possible exposure.

Communicate!! – With many employees still working remotely, there is a prevalent and understandable concern with returning to the workplace as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. Communicate with your employees. Listen to their concerns and communicate to them what your organization is doing to ensure the safest possible working environment. Communicate new policies and practices, along with expectations of all employees.

What if They Refuse? – A problem many employers are running into, what if an employee refuses to return to work based on executive orders or concerns for their health? The nitty gritty is that a fear of returning to work is not a protected reason to continue to telecommute. You can reasonably require an employee to return, so long that you are meeting guidelines regarding workplace safety. However, as in many situations in which accommodations are requested, work with the employee to see if a temporary and mutually beneficial compromise can be met that works for everyone. This may include a part time work from home arrangement, or a work location that is more isolated from others.

The impact the new coronavirus has had on organizations is staggering. Transitioning back to work is a process that should be as smooth as possible, but keep in mind that every industry, every employee, every case is different. There is still so much gray area regarding employees returning to work and managing leaves under the FFCRA. No one situation is the same nor should they be treated as such. As we slowly start resuming (somewhat) normal activities, feel free to contact us for advice and counsel regarding implementing policies and practices that are tailored for your organization and culture.


Timecards: 101

Timecards: 101

As we discussed in our last post, employers are solely responsible for ensuring their employees take their designated meal and rest breaks (particularly their meal break during which they are to be relieved of all duties). Aside from making certain this happens, employers are additionally responsible for accurately managing and tracking employee time, something that has become even more of a challenge with so many employees working remotely.

While it is important to have a usable time reporting system in place, it is equally important to make sure that your employees know what is expected of them with regards to tracking time accurately. Regardless of the method used (e.g., an elaborate software program, or Quickbooks and simple spreadsheets for tracking time), when you have multiple employees, it can be near impossible to keep track of every “in” and “out” and managing time worked in addition to sick leave, vacation, emergency sick leave, holiday pay, etc. can create an incredible amount of frustration.

How do you make your time management process as streamlined and user-friendly as possible? How do you establish compliant and effective practices that ensure accuracy and honesty?

  • Utilize a Simple System – Dependent on your company size, don’t over complicate things by using software that is too complex and cumbersome. The easier it is for employees to use, the easier it will be to ensure accuracy. Your system should easily integrate with daily operations and should simplify administrative tasks.
  • Communicate Policies and Practices – In new hire orientation and regularly or as necessitated by circumstances, communicate your organization’s policies surrounding your time keeping system and process. Walk new employees step-by-step through how to track their time accurately, including meal and rest periods and the type of pay (e.g., straight pay, overtime, holiday pay, PTO, etc.).
  • Establish Expectations – In addition to communicating policies, clearly communicate what you expect out of your employees with regards to time tracking, including: honesty and accuracy in record keeping, submission of timecards, and consequences for not following company policy, including potential disciplinary action.
  • Hold Employees Accountable – Especially in Oregon, with employers being held strictly liable for ensuring employees take their meal and rest breaks, it is important to bring the hammer down when necessary to make certain policies are adhered to. Dishonesty in record keeping is a terminable offense in many organizations, and making those expectations known early on, and following through on consequences can prevent issues down the road.

Record keeping doesn’t have to be a burdensome task. By implementing the right process for your company, communicating practices and expectations, and holding your employees accountable, time management can be easy and simple. Contact us today for questions regarding any unique situations you may have, or for help in reviewing and updating your current policies for efficiency and compliance.


FFCRA – Recent Updates

FFCRA – Recent Updates

Effective April 1, 2020 and lasting through December 31, 2020, the FFCRA provides for paid emergency sick leave and expanded leave protections for those eligible employees who have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

The two biggest components of this Act, emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA leave protections, and what eligible employees qualify for, are as outlined:

  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave – Qualifying employers (private sector employers with less than 500 employees and all government employers) will be required to pay up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent), paid at the following rates to employees who have been impacted by COVID-19 for one of the following reasons:
    • 100% the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $511 daily or $5,100 total) for the following reasons:
  • Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
  • Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $200 daily or $2,000 total) for the following reasons:
    • Is caring for an individual subject to an order described above (self-quarantine or isolation);
    • Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; or
    • Is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Time off due to lack of work (e.g., furlough or layoffs), or voluntarily staying home rather than commuting to the place work, are not qualifying reasons to receive emergency paid sick leave. For example, unless otherwise specified, state or local “stay at home” orders do not typically qualify as a local quarantine or isolation order.

Private employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt from this mandate, if the “viability of the business” would be in jeopardy as a result of providing this benefit.

  • Paid Family Leave (Expanded FMLA) – Qualifying employers (private sector employers with less than 500 employees and all government employers) are required to provide up to 12 weeks of paid Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) to employees who have worked more than 30 calendar days to care for their child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons.

After the first 2 weeks of leave that would satisfy the paid sick leave requirement outlined above, eligible employees will receive 2/3 of their regular rate of pay (up to $200 daily or $12,000 total) for an additional 10 weeks (for a total of up to 12 weeks of time off for childcare).

Private employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt from this mandate, if the “viability of the business” would be in jeopardy as a result of providing this benefit.

Certain components of this bill are still being interpreted and analyzed; the Department of Labor is still releasing updates and finalizing these elements of the Act, including releasing information pertaining to documentation and tracking.

We will keep all of our clients personally updated as additional regulations are finalized. Please feel free to contact us by phone at 800.574.3282 or by email at if you have any questions regarding, the FFCRA, House Bill 6201 and its provisions, and how to implement these new protocols within your organization.

Motivational Techniques that Work!

Motivational Techniques that Work!

Last week we discussed some of the various ways to help keep your employees motivated and engaged. We often work with employees who have personalities very different from our own, or have to deal with those who need a little extra push in the right direction when it comes to motivation.

As a manager it is imperative to learn what makes these employees tick to determine what encourages them to do a good job. Here are some factors that may be the key in making your unmotivated employees encouraged and engaged.


Some employees are goal-oriented and enjoy challenges that will sharpen their skills. You can often load these people with several short and long-term goals simultaneously. Motivate them by constantly introducing new tasks that build upon the ones they are currently working on.


These employees want influence and control, need to feel important, and like being in the spotlight.  They express an interest in leadership roles and are highly motivated by special privileges or perks. Treat these employees like in-house experts and frequently ask them for advice (within reason). They will instantly be motivated because they savor the chance to offer information.


Easily motivated, this group wants to feel a sense of camaraderie. Allow them to build rapport with their coworkers. Create meetings where they can collaborate and share ideas, rather than just sit and listen to a lecture. If you satisfy their need for affiliation, they will give you a solid effort.


If you attempt to manage an employee who seeks autonomy and strongly values their independence too closely, you’ll kill their desire to excel. The best way to connect with what motivates these freedom seekers is to give them overriding goals and let them find the best way to get the results.


Some employees simply want a little respect. If you listen to them, they’ll feel more motivated.  You need to give them full attention while listening, or they will feel disrespected. They love to hear praise and feedback on their performance and have a deep need for esteem. Give it to them and they will be motivated.


Everyone likes a fair, unbiased boss, but some individuals see the world as either black or white. They weigh and measure everything to make sure everyone is treated the same. They will pick up on inconsistencies and decisions that appear to vary from previous occasions. Approach them as if you were a lawyer and give them objective evidence to prove that you are fair and equitable.

Always keep in mind that each employee is a unique individual and what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for the other. Be observant and learn what makes them tick. Some employees are motivated by power and praise, another may just want some respect and to have their voice heard. Take the time to learn what you can do to help each employee succeed and reap the rewards of more engaged, productive, and an overall happier team.

Motivation For All!

Motivation For All!

Last month, we focused on fostering relationships with your subordinates, including tips on how to get the most out of your subordinate managers. While communication is at the forefront of ways to foster and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with your team, some employees are motivated by other means. How do you motivate and engage all employees, especially those who struggle with self-motivation or have personalities that are vastly different than yours?

Communicate – If your employees don’t know specifically what you want out of them, how can you expect them to perform at a satisfactory level? Communicate your expectations, whether that be the functions of their job, performance standards, or behavioral factors that they can work on. Communication should always be a two-way street. Give and receive feedback in a way that is productive and mutually beneficial.

Lead by Example – The “Golden Rule” applies to the workplace just as much as it did to the schoolyard as children. The simple concept of treating others as you’d like to be treated means so much when applied in a work setting. Work on creating this kind of environment for your employees. Put yourself in their shoes and work in a way that would make them want to give back and put forth an effort, and

Be Fair and Consistent – Everyone likes a fair, unbiased boss. Apply policies and procedures the same across the board, and try not to play favorites when administering rewards or discipline. Many employees get discouraged when treatment is unequitable and when favoritism abounds. Really focus on how inequitable treatment affects others and be deliberate and unbiased with how you assign tasks and deliver praise and criticism.

Provide Opportunities for Growth – Many employees will respond well to an opportunity to obtain training. Use training and other learning opportunities as incentives for fine work. Select your most diligent or outstanding employees to attend outside seminars and conferences where they can pick up new job skills and spend time mentoring a dedicated employee for an hour or two a week as a reward for excellent performance.

While these are all great starting points to apply to ensure engagement with your managers and employees, follow along in our next post as we go even further and discuss various proven motivational techniques to implement with each individual employee.

Love is in the Air!

Love is in the Air!

With today being Valentine’s Day, love is in the air! In our personal lives, many are enjoy a day of romances and surprises. At work however, there are boundaries that need to be adhered to, particularly on this day in which love abounds.

It is a simple reality that people spend much of their time at work and end up sharing their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and intimacies with co-workers, so it is inevitable that many friendships blossom into romantic relationships. How do you keep this from becoming disruptive and problematic?

The key for any organization is to manage these relationships rather than banning them all together. Has your organization established written guidelines that can create a fair and professional environment? Such guidelines should include standards of conduct expected of all employees, a mention of fraternization, and other applicable factors pertaining to romantic workplace relationships. Consider offering an open discussion on these guidelines to answer any questions that may arise and clarify what is and is not acceptable in the workplace.

There are a few simple rules that most companies adhere to: Avoid relationships that can create a conflict of interest (e.g. managers and their subordinates) as this tends to cause perceptions of favoritism and evoke concerns regarding breaches of confidentiality. Require that employees do not flaunt their affections at work. Such excessive displays are unprofessional and can cause discomfort amongst other employees. And as it applies to many aspects of employment, treat your coworkers with respect and dignity.

HRCentral specializes in assisting organizations with mitigating potential conflict that may arise with challenging workplace situations, including those that may arise regarding workplace relationships. Contact us if you have any questions regarding creating policies that apply to romance in the workplace or if you have any concerns with any difficult situations.