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An Open Letter from an HR Professional

HR Professional Reflections

July 23, 2020

Dear Business Owner,

The unimaginable has happened. COVID-19 has upended our lives and disrupted the workplace. For many of us, our home IS our new workplace. For others, job responsibilities have dramatically shifted. As managers and leaders, how do we manage and lead while sorting through the complications of safety protocols, a remote workforce and simply staying in business while still complying with the same employment regulations that existed before the coronavirus ... plus many more!

Each business has its own unique set of challenges. Consider the below.

Scenario 1

For years, exempt Manager Bill has gone to work at the office M-F, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and led his team of 12 customer service representatives. Today, the office is closed, his staff has been furloughed due to lack of work and Bill works from home handling any incoming calls and responding to customers as necessary.

  • Is Bill still an exempt employee?
  • Is his job description a true reflection of the duties he is performing?
  • What about Bill’s work-from-home situation? Does he have the resources to effectively do his job?

“Call me!”

Scenario 2

Across town, Rose works at a grocery store that has been so busy that the staff have not been allowed to take vacation time. She comes to work every day expecting to be protected (by her employer) from an invisible virus. She is working extra hours due to the spike in business and the fact that it has become extremely difficult to hire anyone. This challenge is primarily due to the safety concerns of working with the public. Additionally, many people on unemployment from other jobs are making more money staying home for the time being.

  • Is the grocery store a covered employer and required to comply with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?
  • Does Rose’s employer have the proper physical safety measures put into place?
  • What about a plan to react to any COVID-19 positive test that may occur within the grocery store staff?

“We’re in this together. Let me be a part of the solution.”

Regardless of the pandemic, business owners have not been given any reprieve from adhering to the laws of employment. And, unfortunately, there was no playbook for this. No checklist of exactly what success would look like. Instead, in many instances there were questions with no answers.

We need each other more than ever right now. Let’s put on our masks, socially distance and let HR professionals guide the way.


A DSM HR Professional

Learn more by watching the HR webinar below:


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You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.

Scott Gire

Scott Gire is an HR services area manager for Oasis, a Paychex® Company, in West Des Moines. He leads a team of HR professionals who consult with business leaders on strategic initiatives.