Preparing Tribal Workforces to return from COVID-19
The Blue Stone Team

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Bringing people back to work from this complex pandemic could prove difficult. Although unemployment benefits vary from state to state, the rates being offered could potentially incentivize workers to stay home until funding runs out. For example, in the state of Washington, some employees who would normally make $17 an hour at their jobs are receiving upwards of $37 an hour to stay at home.

In an effort to help HR directors better navigate this new environment of bringing employees back after the pandemic Blue Stone has provided the following outline that addresses important criteria to consider as part of the planning process.

1. New Normal 

Understand how COVID-19 has impacted Tribal communities and the additional steps that are required to return to work. COVID-19 will not only impact Tribes DURING the shelter-in-place orders but long after, and companies of all sizes will have to adjust accordingly.

      • Flexible working arrangements may be a common occurrence.
      • Creative incentive packages to get employees back to work who may currently be paid more to stay at home.
      • Assisting employees who may be financially impacted.

2. Ongoing Mitigation

Discuss the precautions and measures required to maintain a healthy workforce, once shelter-in-place orders are lifted as the threat of exposure still exists. Disease/Disaster Response plans, revised precautions, and modifications to facilities implemented and updating of policies & procedures will be required. Communicating changes to existing business practices will be necessary, based on the degree and number of changes implemented.

      • Developing a Disaster response plan.
      • Continued social distancing precautions will be required.
      • Paid Sick Leave policies will need to be amended.
      • Dealing with viral exposure.

3. Taking A Workforce Inventory 

Evaluating your workforce needs should be the priority BEFORE the shelter-in-place orders are lifted, to be ready once a recall is necessary. Increasing or replacing personnel may be necessary for the short-term, while the jobs that will now be necessary if you serve the public, to clean/disinfect public areas and provide a safe environment to continue daily business.

      • Are all your furlough positions required to be recalled?
      • Do you need to create new positions to deal with the disinfection?
      • Did you lose any employees to the virus?
      • What is the recruitment strategy to overcome the PPP UE Impact?

4. Re-engaging workforce

How to bring employees back from furlough, paid, or unpaid administrative leaves. Taking the time to re-engage the workforce, to get back to a modicum of normalcy in the wake of devastating losses.

      • Employees may be dealing with the loss of a co-worker, a friend, or a family member.
      • Employees may have contracted the virus and are now dealing with the long-term effects.
      • Is counseling available for co-workers of employees lost to the virus?
      • Are you considering reasonable accommodations?

5. Financial Mitigation 

How to bring employees back from furlough, paid, or unpaid administrative leaves. Taking the time to re-engage the workforce, to get back to a modicum of normalcy in the wake of devastating losses.

      • Employees may be dealing with the loss of a co-worker, a friend, or a family member.
      • Employees may have contracted the virus and are now dealing with the long-term effects.
      • Is counseling available for co-workers of employees lost to the virus?
      • Are you considering reasonable accommodations?

If your Tribe is struggling in any of these areas, Blue Stone would be honored to assist you in moving forward with building a strong workforce.