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November 18, 2020 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis

How to Manage Your Workforce through the Pandemic and Beyond

Workforce management can be a complicated and stressful job even in the best of times. When the very concept of a workforce is suddenly altered as it has been by the COVID-19 pandemic, that management becomes an altogether new set of challenges. Fortunately, we have all been learning together as we navigate the current health crisis, and we can now identify a number of important workforce management considerations that every organization needs to address. 

Classify and Report Workers Accurately 

As the tides of the pandemic have ebbed and flowed, businesses have scrambled to define who is and is not an “essential worker.” That designation is crucial not just for determining which workers need to be onsite and which operations can continue during a lockdown. Essential status also plays a key role in applying for government grants from FEMA and other organizations, programs like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)unemployment insurance claims, and more.  

As various bills covering emergency stimulus and hazard pay continue to work their way through congress, accurately tracking and reporting the hours worked by both essential and nonessential employees takes on a new importance. A customizable, automated time and attendance dashboard can play a key role in helping your management team record, log, and report on the hours worked by essential employees, thus improving your chances of receiving vital assistance to keep your business operating smoothly.  

Optimize Staffing Levels 

Making sure that the right worker is in the right role at the right time is always a challenge, and it’s one that has taken on new dimensions during the pandemic. With recession-induced cutbacks, COVID-related absences, physical restructuring of the workspace, and many other unexpected factors now in play, maintaining ideal staffing levels that keep your business on target for important goals is trickier than ever before.  

A customizable scheduling dashboard is an essential tool for making sure that every shift is staffed by workers with the necessary skills and certifications to perform each role. Real-time data analytics help your team assess whether you are over- or under-staffed and provide guidance for future hiring and personnel decisions.  

Accurately Track Time for All Employees 

The pandemic has changed what the workday looks like for many employers. Flexible scheduling, added shifts, and, most visibly, expanded reliance on remote work mean that HR and payroll administrators are often tracking time for employees in a variety of work situations. For instance, a manufacturing company may require certain workers to be physically present on the floor, while other employees in more administrative roles are working from home, and still others are in the field performing installations or maintenance.  

Those kinds of hybrid work environments can make time-tracking more difficult, underlining the need for efficient, adaptable time and attendance software that can provide uniform results under a variety of circumstances. That increasingly means incorporating mobile timekeeping apps that allow employees to clock in and out, submit requests for paid time off, and manage their schedules from any location while also allowing administrators to manage those functions from wherever they are.   

Maintain Compliant Leave Policies 

Leave management is always a complicated field. HR, payroll, and operations teams need to ensure compliance with FMLA rules and all applicable state and local regulations governing time off while still maintaining a fully staffed workforce. That can be especially tricky for businesses that employ workers in multiple cities or states, and are therefore responsible for complying with several sets of laws simultaneously. That responsibility became still more complicated with the institution of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires certain employers to provide emergency leave for COVID-related illness, including caring for children and family members.   

As with more standard leave management situations, staying compliant with these new FFCRA requirements (which are slated to expire at the end of the year but may be extended) requires accurate recordkeeping and data reporting. Reliable, adaptable time and attendance and scheduling systems are necessary tools for managing these increasingly complex staffing concerns. Ideally, these functions should also be manageable via a mobile app to allow maximum flexibility for employees and managers alike.  

Manage Labor Transfers 

The pandemic has required companies to make a lot of unexpected maneuvers, including transferring workers to roles they may not have expected to fill. Temporary layoffs, extended illnesses, and new approaches to scheduling mean that some workers are finding themselves filling in the gaps. For HR and payroll administrators, that means making sure that gaps in skills and certification are filled accordingly, and that proper pay rates and benefits are maintained across positions. 

Keeping a digital database of the required training and certifications for each role is crucial to keeping your business compliant. If different roles command different rates of pay or benefits, it is also vital to keep diligent records of who is filling those roles. Placing unqualified or underpaid workers in the wrong position can lead to damaging fines, penalties, and lawsuits. Automating your scheduling system is an important step toward avoiding these potential pitfalls. 

Monitor Employee Movement 

Tracing the roots of coronavirus outbreaks has been an ongoing struggle for public health officials since the early days of the pandemic. That challenge is mirrored for safety-conscious employers. For industries such as manufacturing, construction, and healthcare where the bulk of the workforce must remain onsite, greater awareness of your employees’ movements within your facility can make a huge difference in preventing unchecked spread of the virus.  

Technology that tracks workers’ whereabouts throughout the workday make it much easier to pinpoint a source if an outbreak does occur. A customizable time and attendance system can also help manage and record employees’ daily confirmations that they are not experiencing COVID symptoms. These measures not only keep your workplace safer, they also generate records that can be hugely helpful to health authorities and provide evidence that your business is following proper virus prevention protocols.  

While there are very few easy or straightforward solutions to any of the issues brought to the surface by the pandemic, many of these key concerns can be handled with up-to-date workforce management software solutions. The needs of your workforce likely look very different today than they did at this time last year, and the chances are that they will continue evolving for the immediate future. Find out more about the ways Ascentis workforce management tools can help you serve the needs of your employees, keep your organization compliant with workforce regulations, and protect your bottom line as we move into the next phase, whatever it may be.