Employers have a bevy of resolutions to choose from in ensuring a successful new year.
To say that the pandemic has kept employers on their toes is an understatement. Juggling “regular” employment issues in conjunction with pandemic-related concerns has been an overwhelming task. So, what can employers do to ease into the new year?
First, resolve to routinely review guidance and updates from federal and state agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights Enforcement. Pandemic-related guidance keeps evolving and requires vigilance.
Next, conduct intensive, hands-on training for management on how to spot employee issues that should be addressed. For example, all levels of management should be trained on protocols for identifying employee complaints. The manager should involve Human Resources, so a thorough investigation can be conducted and the complaint can be promptly addressed. Often, employees who believe their employer has not been responsive to complaints are ones who go on to file discrimination charges.
Resolve to update the employee handbook. Gather signed acknowledgments reflecting that employees have read and understand policies and procedures. A handbook that sits on a real or virtual shelf is of no help. Conduct Q&A’s with employee groups regarding policies that seem to be at issue more than others. For example, medical issues continue to be on the rise. Employees should understand how to request leave or an accommodation under the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the employer’s other leave policies. Management should know how to respond, assist the employee, and ensure the request is handled accordingly.
Finally, employee engagement is important now more than ever. Many employees still work remotely. There’s the occasional Zoom meeting but nothing compares to face-to-face (socially distanced) interaction. Checking in on employees and building an inclusive community-based culture is key to a successful work environment.
These represent just a few resolutions employers should consider to strengthen the workplace. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected, so most importantly resolve to be ready for whatever comes next in 2022!
* This article first appeared in The Journal Record on December 29, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from the publisher.