4 ways HR outsourcing can help your clients get back to business after coronavirus

As businesses plan for reopening following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, your firm may be wondering how you can best advise clients on safety and HR-related topics during this time. With an overwhelming amount of changes, from disinfecting spaces to implementing new policies, clients will be relying on your advice now more than ever before.

One way firms might recommend to help take the overwhelming HR workload off clients’ plates is through outsourcing HR expertise. According to a Paychex study, which polled 300 randomly selected U.S. business owners with 2 to 500 employees online from May 1-4, 2020, one of the top tasks business owners reported they would do differently following the pandemic is “delegating more to free up time to better plan and outsource more functions.” In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said a permanent change they’ll be making post-pandemic is using applications, such as those for managing payroll and benefits, to reduce overhead and complexity.

To assist your clients in navigating a smooth transition to the new “normal” and getting employees back to work safely, here are four ways bringing in HR expertise can benefit their business throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Cost savings
Businesses of all sizes have felt the financial burden of the pandemic, causing not only layoffs and furloughs, but strategic spending cuts in other areas as well. In fact, the same Paychex study shows that reducing spending is a top priority for businesses at this time (62 percent).

During a time such as this, when establishing comprehensive employee leave and safety procedures are more important than ever, hiring an in-house HR manager, or labor attorney, can be timely and costly. Outsourcing those services is an alternative way to help meet those critical needs, while minimizing overhead costs.
2. Risk management
Over the past several months, there have been numerous changes to laws and regulations at the local, state and federal levels. An abundance of policies must be created or updated based on recent legislative changes before doors can safely open, including several new and updated state and local paid leave policies.

Before welcoming employees back to work, your clients must be knowledgeable about these changes and review current internal policies on rehiring to better understand any impact to the reinstatement of accrued PTO or vacation time.

Keeping up to date and compliant on updates to new and changing laws, regulations and governmental guidance requires a great deal of both time and energy. By bringing in outside HR expertise from an HR solutions provider who has staff focused on these compliance updates, business leaders can help to protect themselves by confirming required policies are properly implemented and in place before reopening.
3. Efficiency
Your clients should be aware of their obligations to provide certain documents to employees prior to or at the time they return to work. In some instances, these obligations may have changed or expanded due to recent legislative and regulatory changes, all of which can take a great deal of time to update and distribute.

It can be challenging to understand what documents a returning employee must complete. For example, if employees were temporarily furloughed, updating their Form I-9 is generally not required. If employees were terminated, and then rehired within three years of the date their previous Form I-9 was completed, you may either complete a new Form I-9 or complete Section 3 of their original Form I-9 to indicate the rehire. In addition, employers should also consider forms such as direct deposit forms and Forms W-4 to ensure employees are welcomed back onto payroll and allowing them to make proper adjustments if need be.

Reopening also provides businesses with the opportunity to revisit and reinforce company HR policies, guidelines and employee handbooks. For example, these standard “new hire” documents should be updated to include new policies, as well as health and safety guidelines to help implement new regulations properly.

Additionally, many employees are considering requesting more permanent work from home agreements. According to a recent Paychex study, 25 percent of businesses plan to increase their telecommuting benefits following COVID-19. An HR professional can offer guidance and expertise on how to navigate these requests, address them in formal policies and documentation, as well as make recommendations on how to communicate changes with employees. By outsourcing HR tasks such as employee handbook creation and document management, employers can focus on the strategic tasks that will grow their business in this new landscape, instead of spending countless hours drafting policies and tracking down, organizing and executing employee documents.
4. Allocation of resources
By consulting on and outsourcing critical HR strategies and tasks, your business clients have the opportunity to focus on other strategic business goals, including helping employees feel safe when returning to work and getting their business back to pre-pandemic revenue levels.

There will certainly be a new normal when it comes to health and safety in the workplace, meaning businesses should determine if there are federal, state or local requirements related to workplace health and safety. In addition, employers will want to review guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and current guidance from state and local health agencies and continue to monitor for any new or updated guidance.

During these uncertain times, business leaders are all wondering when and how they will be able to welcome employees back to the office and look to you for recommendations on how to do so while continuing to work toward their business’s financial goals. As states lift stay-at-home orders, complying with workplace laws and regulations and reviewing available guidance from government agencies is becoming more important than ever. With the right HR outsourcing partner, businesses can feel prepared to reopen knowing they’re effectively implementing new policies, managing costs and recalling employees efficiently, all while keeping safety a top priority.

Christopher Parks is director of channel marketing at Paychex Inc.
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