The past decade has seen an unprecedented national job expansion, which made it increasingly difficult for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to recruit and retain the talent they need to sustain growth. That came to a screeching halt in March, when the coronavirus pandemic brought an end to a record 113 consecutive months of new job creation, but not before 22 million people had been added to payrolls. And while the pandemic has created more pressing short-term challenges for many SMBs, it’s important to keep in mind that the ability to build growth-ready teams remains critical for long-term success.
With the pandemic expected to last months, SMBs have been forced to adapt to the “new normal” of the remote workplace, says Pamela Lacy, HR coach at Paychex, Inc. Supply chains have been interrupted, travel impeded, and cash flow throttled for many businesses, especially those dependent on foot traffic.“For knowledge-based or professional services companies that can continue operations, the most difficult challenge is transitioning to an athome workforce,” she says.
Developing, implementing, and communicating a temporary work-from-home policy tops the list of concerns for those companies. Employers also need to make sure they comply with wage and hour laws and protect the business’s confidential and proprietary information, Lacy stresses. High-level performance goals may have to take a temporary back seat while the virtual office is being set up, and managers must learn how to schedule, assign, evaluate, and motivate employees remotely. For SMBs with existing remote work programs, scaling those processes will be the main challenge.
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