Many regular HR activities were put on the back burner in 2020 as more critical HR processes, like moving entire workforces to remote environments, took precedent. Now that we have some breathing room, and companies are making plans to resume normal operations, whether onsite or remote or both, it is time to circle back and ensure your organization’s HR is healthy and up-to-speed. The pandemic forced us to take a hard look at our HR processes, and in some cases, tweak existing processes and, in other cases, create entirely new processes. In an effort to make sure you are covering all your HR bases, Smart HR has updated its annual HR Audit Checklist to include lessons learned from the pandemic. As usual, these are proactive steps, presented in a user-friendly bulleted format, you can take now to make sure you are post-COVID ready to return to work.
Personnel Files, Recordkeeping and Posting Requirements
- Ensure your HRIS is meeting your needs by tracking the right information and providing you with useful and purposeful data.
- Address aging files according to your records retention policy. New hire applications and paperwork should be kept for two years; Personnel and payroll files should be kept for seven years from the date of termination; I-9s should be kept for no more than three years after termination.
- Ensure you have collected I-9s from all employees hired during the pandemic.
- Ensure all employment law posters are up-to-date.
- Update organizational chart particularly in light of personnel changes due to the pandemic.
- Consult legal counsel on state and local changes to employment laws that impact corporate policies particularly in a multi-state corporate environment.
- Conduct annual review of employee handbook and update policies as needed paying particular attention to policies related to infectious diseases and leaves of absence due to medical directives.
- Rethink corporate travel policy given reduction in travel during the pandemic to look for cost savings and reduce environmental impact.
- Determine which positions will remain virtual, move onsite or to a hybrid work model.
- Obtain an acknowledgement of employee handbook receipt from all employees if a revised/updated employee handbook is issued and keep in personnel files.
Recruiting and Hiring
- Determine what recruiting and onboarding activities can remain digitized/virtual.
- If employees were hired virtually during the pandemic, ensure they feel welcomed and engaged.
- If onboarding continues virtually, determine what systems are in place to ensure new hires going forward feel connected to and engaged with the company.
- Develop systems to tap into remote talent pools.
- Ensure your online presence and other marketing material conveys your commitment to and support of a remote workforce.
- Determine how to handle potential shortages in the talent supply as companies gear up and compete for the same talent.
- Consider alternative labor types such as retirees and contract employees to fill immediate resizing needs.
- Ensure your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is meeting your recruiting needs and is capturing pertinent information on remote applicants.
- Consider implementing a mentor or buddy system for new hires and to “check in” on new hires onboarded during the pandemic.
- Review and update, if necessary, your new hire and termination checklists to ensure all administrative tasks are handled most efficiently.
- Ensure hiring managers and any other personnel who conduct interviews are well-informed on legally-compliant interview questions.
- Ensure your job posting template and application include your EEO policy.
- Ensure your new hire packets contains current tax forms, health insurance information, I-9, etc.
Compensation and Performance Reviews
- Consider whether compensation philosophy needs to be tweaked or completely changed given a move to remote and or a hybrid work model.
- Decide whether retroactive performance reviews are needed to compensate for missed reviews during the pandemic.
- Evaluate the compensation system for potential pay disparities based on gender, race, age and any other protected class of employees. Include all forms of compensation (starting salary, benefits, bonuses, shift differentials, overtime, training opportunities, separation pay, etc.)
- Consider creating and distributing total compensation statements for all employees.
- Ensure all employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt. See Smart HR’s blog Exempt vs Non-Exempt – The Basics.
- Evaluate how pay raises and bonuses are determined to ensure that decisions are made in a non-discriminatory manner.
- Ensure competitive salaries by benchmarking jobs against compensation surveys that are detailed and specific to your company and region.
- Ensure all job descriptions are current and each employee has a copy of his/her job description particularly given personnel changes during the pandemic.
- Review performance appraisal tool to ensure it is aligned with your compensation strategy and that performance expectations have been modified for flexible working arrangements.
- Ensure systems are in place to remain on the cutting edge of remote working software offerings to increase productivity and enhance performance.
- Analyze current mental health support and sick leave benefits and determine if meeting the workforce’s needs particularly in the event of another pandemic or significant disruption to workplace operations.
- Prepare to provide out-of-country benefits if necessary.
- Assess whether providing management the resources necessary to support their overall well-being and that of their teams and whether more extensive crisis response support is needed.
- Assess whether providing adequate benefits/resources to employees who experienced deaths of family members, coworkers or clients.
- Examine ways to provide additional support to employees in the event of significant school or caregiving disruptions.
- Update all benefit materials to reflect changes to plans and premiums and the addition of any new benefit plans.
- Ensure employees have received all mandated notices such as the Marketplace Coverage Notice, Summaries of Benefits and Coverage, Summary Plan Descriptions, CHIPRA, Patient Protection Choice for Providers and HIPAA Special Enrollment Rights Notice.
- Ensure correct 403(b), 401(k) or Simple IRA contribution limits for current year are being made.
Training and Employee Engagement
- Assess the need for management training on employment laws and best practices to avoid litigation, particulary if moving to a multi-state corporate environment.
- Schedule annual corporate-wide EEO training.
- Determine whether learning resources and tools have been sufficient for a virtual workforce.
- Decide if more training investment is needed in the event of future disruptions to operations.
- Determine if the move to remote working or changes to leave policies has resulting in the need for more staff cross—training.
- Analyze current digitized learning content to ensure it is meeting workforce needs.
- Consider conducting periodic “stay interviews” to discover what makes employees want to stay with your company and to “check in” with employees to ensure they have the resources needed to cope with post-COVID issues.
- Ensure communication channels are disseminating necessary information to employees as they re-enter the workplace or permanently move to a remote or hybrid arrangement.
- Determine whether the most effective tools and technology are being used to disseminate information.
- Review communication protocols during the pandemic and make appropriate changes to emergency response processes where needed in the case of future disruptions.
- Ensure employees are “being heard” as they reenter the workplace or move to a permanent remote or hybrid work arrangement.
- Decide whether leadership is adequately equipped to address employee concerns remotely.
Smart HR Audit
As the world shifts from pandemic crisis response to recovery and resumes operations, companies must ensure HR processes have been examined with the benefit of hindsight and changed or enhanced where needed. Smart HR’s Post-COVID Audit Checklist will help you get started in the right direction and possibly identify areas in which you should commit more resources. Among Smart HR’s many innovative, world-class human resource offerings is an HR auditing service. An HR audit involves a review of current practices, policies and procedures to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses and where improvements may be needed. If gaps are identified between “what is” and “what should be,” Smart HR makes recommendations for improvements and gives you a very specific path forward. By virtue of going through an HR audit, you are demonstrating your commitment to your employees, making HR a priority and ensuring you are prepared in the event of another pandemic or major disruption to operations. Call today.