Navigating a Reopening Plan in the Wake of Covid-19
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Navigating a Reopening Plan in the Wake of Covid-19

Navigating a Reopening Plan in the Wake of Covid-19

The effects of Covid-19 caused businesses across all industries to temporarily close their doors and rethink operations. Now, as businesses start to reopen, both business owners and franchisors are faced with making decisions on how to best resume operations and keep employees and customers safe. Franchisees may be expecting their franchisor to provide them with direction and may want help in implementing new processes and solutions that can help them return employees back to the workplace. Business owners are expected to respond quickly when confronted with the ever-changing guidance and regulations. Employers, more than ever, must manage their workforce to ensure that safety protocols are being observed and that employees are able and willing to return to work. Fortunately, innovative technology solutions are available to help streamline communication, as well as operations, when it comes to safely and effectively returning to work.

Employer’s obligations

Numerous laws relate to Covid-19 at the federal, state, and local levels, several of which govern what an employer must do regarding safety in the workplace. For example, at the federal level, employers are responsible for maintaining a safe working environment for employees according to OSHA guidelines. This includes protections against recognized hazards that could lead to injury or death. 

Employers should start by assessing their workplace and modifying their environment in accordance with the most updated guidance provided by public health officials and all applicable laws. For example, these guidelines can affect the number of employees and customers who can physically be inside a building at one time, which in turn can affect how operating hours and employee shifts are scheduled, which then affect an employee’s pay and subsequent tax liabilities. It’s helpful for business owners to work through an internal communications plan and provide that information on a continual basis to their workforce. 

Having real-time access to information on changing regulations can help employers manage their compliance and help reduce the risk of penalties associated with non-compliance. Additionally, franchise business owners should consider implementing technology solutions and update HR handbooks with any new policies. A robust technology platform can help franchisees meet changing compliance standards and communicate how they may be adjusting pay practices, staffing, and operations. Finally, as employers are permitted to bring back additional employees, there are opportunities to benefit financially by enlisting their payroll provider with access to systems to help further maximize potential for tax credits. 

Who returns first? 

Once a franchise is permitted to open physical locations, it’s important to think through which staff should return first. Identifying positions required to be on-site to operate, as well as having a keen understanding of and visibility to organizational data such as head count and payroll spend, can dramatically benefit a business. 

New processes to manage the workforce 

With the seismic changes that resulted from the pandemic come additional considerations and regulations that must be followed, as well as ensuring that employees feel comfortable and safe with their return to work. Touchless time kiosks allow shift and break logging that don’t require physical touch and instead use AI and facial recognition. Voice command transactions limit additional points of contact and follow proper sanitary precautions. Health questionnaires gather important health information to help ensure that employees are not entering the workplace with Covid-19 symptoms. Additionally, health attestation reports and contact tracing can help to determine if an employee who returned to the workplace is experiencing Covid symptoms and, from there, help trace who they may have been in contact with while helping to ensure privacy surrounding this health data. 

Shared work program benefits for workers 

As franchised businesses begin to implement return to work plans, an HR-based platform that allows franchisees to access helpful resources and information, manage employee availability, and schedule employees can serve as a way to regularly engage with employees. 

Platforms such as our Return to Work dashboard monitor provide a holistic view of the workforce, which allows managers to understand how many staffers are available and willing to work. It’s also helpful to identify trends to quickly shift operations, such as an increase in employees reporting high temperatures, which may result in an employer pausing operations or restrict who is allowed inside the building. These measures serve to help manage the workforce and allow the business to better react to a constantly changing environment.

Conclusion

As business owners continue to implement return-to-work plans, having access to smart and innovative tools can dramatically differentiate a business from the competition and leave a lasting, positive impression on employees. Communicating often, implementing new technology that supports employee engagement, and providing a way to help stay on top of changing regulations are all ways to help business owners safely and effectively navigate a reopening plan.

Neema Ardebili is Vice President of Global Franchise at ADP.

Published: October 9th, 2020

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