Open for Business

The Road to Recovery: HR Steps to Reopen after COVID-19

Over the past few months, the business owner had to navigate a very difficult landscape of employee related issues. It started with the notice that a pandemic was occurring. What do I do? Then came the economic down turn. What do I do? Then the pandemic hit each of us. Time to shut down or not? Many owners had to make the hard decision: keep their employees because they or the business was deemed “essential” (and eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program), or furlough employees. Sadly, several million employees are now unemployed. However, this blog is about the “light at the end of the tunnel”. While we are still in this pandemic and must support shelter in place, we are beginning to see the curve flattening and the overall landscape beginning to return to normal. So, now what?

The road to reopening is long and winding

The owner must now begin the decision tree of returning their business to being operationally ready to receive guests, clients, customers, team members etc. Do I reopen? If so, when? And most importantly, how do I reopen? Know that it’s okay to wait. However, for the business owner who does wants or must reopen, the following must be checked:

  • Do I reopen – Have the authorities given your location(s) permission to open?
  • When do I reopen – Will you have the foot traffic or orders needed to open? While it will be several months before we see pre-pandemic levels of business, opening the doors only to have to shut them again is the worst thing you can do for your employees, your business, and you.
  • How do I reopen? There are CRITICAL STEPS from the HR perspective that must be taken. Short cuts will backfire on you in the long run.

A few points of interest:

  • If you are bringing back your hourly team, can you provide them at least 20 hours of work? While current regulation allows a team member $300 per week in earnings before their unemployment is reduced, it has been our experience that less than 20 hours is perceived as “why bother”.
  • There will be the team member that has realized they are collecting more being on unemployment than working. If you have the work and you meet the above criteria, call the employee back to work. Unless the employee has a Family First (COVID-19) reason for not coming back, they need to come back or resign. The unemployment office also needs to know that you have work for them.
  • If your business received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program, the summary below will not apply since there are specific requirements to comply with that funding. These steps are for those businesses that did not receive financial support.

Planning is key to a successful return

Steps to Reopen

Stagger your staffing – Until the economy returns to pre-pandemic levels, you probably won’t need your entire staff. Classify your employees as mission critical vs. not needed at this time.

Plan of Action – Develop a plan of action that will slowly return your entire staff but do this with employment codes and Department of Labor regulations in mind. Violations will have serious consequences, with attorneys and potential lawsuits. Don’t take short cuts, know the specifics, or get help.

Safety First

  • Following CDC safety guideline is mandatory for employment. Team members must have their temperature checked before and after each shift. This needs to occur every day until the pandemic is eliminated. Using progressive discipline, team members must know that violation of the safety protocols is grounds for termination.
  • Have the appropriate safety gear/items available – If you do not have at least 2 weeks’ worth as well as a good supplier, it’s probably best to wait. Just because these items were easily available before the pandemic doesn’t mean that is true now. TSG-HR has several partners that can provide some of these items.

Document, document, document – Now is the time to set expectations. If it is documented and signed, everyone is on the same page. Set the bar now. This is also a good time to update your handbook. A general rule is to have the handbook reviewed at least every two years. Your handbook should be built to fit your business and culture. Click and fill handbooks on the internet, and generalized handbook are not current nor useful for your company. If you need a handbook created, or if it’s been two years since your book was reviewed, contact us to find out how we can help.

Promote your business to the community showing how you ae complying with CDC guidelines – Safety first applies to employees as well as your clients, customers, or visitors. It’s acceptable to refuse entry to individuals that won’t comply with your minimum guidelines. You don’t want negative publicity for your business to be in the spotlight for a new hot spot or outbreak.

This is a general overview of the reopening process. We would ask that you do not take on this complicated task on by yourself. Please consult with a qualified HR professional. Sadly, attorneys are already circling businesses looking for anyone who will take a short cut or is not fully informed.

The aforementioned steps don’t contain all critical aspects but is meant to provide some items of consideration. More details and a complete outline of the critical steps needed to reopen your business can be found in our eBook The Road to Recovery, which has been provided to all clients of TSG-HR’s Help Desk and will be made available on Amazon and on our website by Thursday April 30, 2020. If you need comprehensive HR Support at a reasonable price, please contact us at 800.961.3053 or visit us at