There he sat in his makeshift office. Doodling. Each day, it was the same thing. Get up, get ready, go into the garage. There was nothing spectacular about the workspace. You would find similar “stuff” in any number of garages in his Kansas City neighborhood. Once there, though, the creativity and magic unleashed. With pencil and paper in hand, Mr. Disney brought to life many of today’s iconic cartoon characters.
Dear Business Owner,
Hello. It’s me. Your Employee Handbook. Now, before you stop reading, can I share what is on my mind? I know you are busy, and I evoke a lot of eye-rolling. But, I have some important things to say. I cannot blame you for being annoyed with me as I routinely insist on being updated, re-signed, and discussed. Granted, I was last updated when George W. Bush was President, Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl, and cargo pants were a fad. If you will give me five minutes of your time, I will make it worth your while. I know I can add value to our organization.
Let’s look at some simple math. Bob, an hourly employee, averaged 40 hours per week making $15 per hour. At the end of each week, his gross income was $600. Now, due to a furlough, Bob is receiving unemployment benefits. According to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Bob will bring home a weekly unemployment benefit of $300. Common assumption would be that he would begin hunting for a new job. Not so fast. With passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act (CARES), the federal government expanded each States’ ability to provide unemployment insurance for many workers. The expansion places an extra $600 per week into the pockets of each eligible worker. Bob is now bringing home $900 per week.
Imagine the following employee situation. MakeStuff Corporation is a Midwest manufacturer of widgets. MakeStuff employs 75 full-time workers, and you are the company’s Plant Manager. Carl, one of your top performers, walks into your office. Typically, he greets you with a smile and a corny joke. Not today. Carl enters with a confused and concerned look on his face. Carl says, “Sue. I’m scared. I just found out that my daughter is sick, and I do not know if it is COVID-19. I don’t know what to think anymore with all the confusion seen on the news. I think I need to take some time off.” What do you do? What laws apply? Family Medical Leave Act? Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion? Emergency Paid Sick Leave? What is the proper course of action? It is possible to understand various employment leave laws and build processes to address them. However, it is more difficult to manage specific situations when they arise. Hopefully, the following scenarios will help you address related employee issues.
Understanding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a challenge in and of itself! What happens when an employer has their first employee request paid leave? Having the right information, tools, guidelines, and support is vital! Below, you will find several “Best Practices” related to proper administration and compliance. Compliance is important, but as I explored in my first part of this series entitled “Defining Long-Term Objectives Surrounded by Short Term Obstacles,” it is important to see this law in light of an organization’s long-term objectives. FFCRA tactics need created, but they cannot stand apart from an overall operational continuity plan.
In full disclosure, I started writing this blog several times but each time I stopped. I either talked to a client and realized I had more questions than answers or the Department of Labor revised a previous regulation. I quickly learned that the only certain thing about this new law was the certainty that we would learn more! Now, the dust has settled (somewhat). Here is a synopsis of the law. Understanding the law is vital to properly administer it.
Projects/orders cancelled or delayed. Cash flow issues. Over-staffed departments. These are common problems many business face today due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many options exist to “right-size” a business, but the chosen path should fit within a business’ long-term objectives. This pandemic will pass. Business will resume to a new normal. However, tough decisions must be made now regarding what to do when there is little to no work to be done.
Each day at 2:00pm, Ohio’s Governor, Mike DeWine, holds a press conference. I am not sure if he always did this, but it has become common knowledge throughout the great State of Ohio that this takes place. Governor DeWine’s aim is to help citizens know what is going on, what they need to do, and to remain hopeful. Politics aside, I continue to learn many useful lessons regarding what crisis leadership looks like. These lessons should be utilized within businesses to support employees as we move through this current challenge.
Four weeks ago, the business world looked much different. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was above 27,000, the national unemployment rate was 3.5%, and the Consumer Confidence Index was above 130 (100 signals a positive outlook toward the future economic situation). Businesses continued hiring people, pumping money into research and development, and building new facilities. People walked into a grocery store and found toilet paper, they planned summer vacations, and they started researching for our March Madness brackets. Yes, Coronavirus was in the news, but it had not hit the United States like it had China, Italy, or some other nations.