b'FOGHORNFOCUS: HUMAN RESOURCESHR in the Age of CoronavirusBy Nikia Pounds, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated HR SolutionsF OGHORN recently had a socially distant, virtual sit-down with Nikia Pounds, owner, and CEO of Integrated HR Solutions and human resources pro with experience in both small and large firms, to discuss HR in this unsettling time.FOGHORN: What are the best ways to keep employees (including fur-loughed or laid-off workers) engaged with the company during the shutdown?Nikia Pounds: It is advisable that employers keep in contact with their employees to maintain the sense of being together, even when physically apart. The same goes for furloughed employees. They needVideo conferencing helps team members stay connected when working remotely to maintain social distancing.to feel they havent been forgotten or discarded, and there is hope that when the healthcareThe work-life balance has been upended. Now employees who crisis has passed, theyll be able to get back to work. suddenly find themselves working from home, may also have Fortunately, there are numerous ways to stay connected.other competing home-related obligations: home-schooling Many of which do not require any more equipment thanyoung children, caring for sick family members, etc. How most Americans already have in their homes: smartphones,should employers handle these situations? computers, laptops or tablets, and a reliable Internet connec- Employers need to understand and respect the unusual cir-tion. Using technology for face-to-face (aka virtual) conversa- cumstances that their employees are going through. Im sure tions is an effective way to stay connected. they do because they too, are going through the same expe-That said, there could be additional expenses to ensureriences.that employees working from home will be productive.First, employers need to acknowledge that households Purchasing equipment or supplies may be required. Ifhave competing needs that are all equally important. Both possible, the easiest way to handle these expenses withoutparties, the employer and the employee, need to agree upon burdening the employee may be to offer access to corporatea work schedule that is suitable for everyone. For example, accounts (FedEx, for example, if materials need to beif the employee has small children that need a fair amount of shipped). Or, consider adding a stipend for office suppliessupervision, it is unreasonable to assume that the employee to their paycheck. would be able to work an eight-hour day, 9 AM to 5 PM, Its also essential that employers are honest with theirMonday through Friday. Hiring outside help, such as a workforce. Transparency is crucial, and employees will ap- babysitter, is not an option during this government ordered preciate honesty from their supervisors. stay-at-home timeframe. Its likely the employee will need to Displaced workers will also appreciate guidance for navi- adjust his/her work hours.gating the system on how to apply for unemployment.The same holds true for parents of school-aged children Companies should ask the person in operation who handleswhom they are expected to home school while schools are human resources issues to reach out to furloughed or laid-offclosed. Many of which will be closed the remainder of this personnel and help them through the process of filing for un- academic school year. These employees need to balance employment. Applying for unemployment will allow themworking at their jobs while also teaching their child(rens) to receive funds during the pandemic. Because of the largecourse curriculums.number of people applying for unemployment right now, theFrankly, these are the lucky ones. Other employees may, process may take longer than usual to file. Explain to yourunfortunately, be caring for sick family members at home employees that patience is necessary. who require attention and constant care. Additionally, the 12MAY 2020FOGHORN'