Managing Employee Health and Productivity During a Viral Outbreak.

We have all heard, read and searched the internet for information on the current Coronavirus Outbreak. Managing your own health and safety is one concern, managing your employees on the workforce is another.

The personal hygiene checklist to minimize the risk of contracting the coronavirus includes regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or using your elbow, and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. WHO (World Health Organization) also suggests that people avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. We all have experienced a co-worker who attends work while sick with the flu or a cold. This mentality must change if we are to navigate this current health crisis and future viruses.

Employers have a legal obligation to ensure a safe workplace for all workers. In order to protect workers from the risk of exposure to coronavirus in the workplace, employers need to take some precautions. Here are some recommendations.

  • Educate workers on the signs and symptoms of coronavirus, and the precautions that can be taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Identify the nearest medical facility that workers can attend if they require medical attention.
    • Try posting a checklist in the breakroom including a pamphlet in weekly paychecks and/or sending an email outlining the precautions and steps to take if an employee suspects they have the virus. This documentation will protect your employees and your company establishing you are taking steps to maintain a safe workforce.
  • Provide (more) hygienic products in the workplace, including hand washing stations, and facial tissues. Assure bathrooms are stocked with individual paper towels or air dryers. Have sanitize wipes available in your breakroom and encourage wiping commonly handled items such as refrigerators and microwaves.
  • Assess employee risks of exposure by minimizing the need for air travel to hotspots or to other cities where the virus is identified.
  • Evaluate workplace emergency response protocols and consider what, if any. modifications are necessary to address a potential coronavirus pandemic. Protocols should include contact information for employer representatives who can provide additional information to workers about how the coronavirus may impact their safety in the workplace. Update phone contacts and addresses and include a second contact for your employees that is current.
  • Rethink the necessity for work travel and gatherings. Consider rescheduling conventions or large gatherings where personal contact cannot be minimized (and encourage workers to reschedule personal or work-related travel to cities or states where the virus is identified.
  • Keep vigilant for signs of illness. If a worker shows respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, or breathing difficulties, encourage that worker to seek medical attention. If an employee has become sick with these symptoms require the worker to provide medical documentation before returning to the workplace.
  • Encourage social distancing. Hand shaking will evolve into fist bumping and other close contact greetings should be discouraged during this or any viral season.
  • Require workers to work from home (or provide a leave of absence), as permitted by law, where workers show respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, or breathing difficulties, or where a worker has travelled to high risk or now quarantined region.
  • Accommodate medical conditions to the point of undue hardship by allowing workers time away from work to attend medical appointments and to recover. Employer policies or procedures may already provide for this. If the do not reissue a policy that is more lenient.
  • Remain informed of developments and continue to circulate new information to workers as it becomes available. Sources of valuable information include the WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control.




Make Productivity Reviews work for you,

  1. Take Advantage of Technology:

Eliminate extra paperwork. Think green and automate performance management. Reevaluate your process. Use electronic performance reminders. Encourage managers to take advantage of your performance tools. These tools can remind them to regularly provide feedback to their employees.

  1. Establish and Set Trackable Goals:

Performance reviews should include goals for the employee to have as an incentive to aim for in the upcoming year. Your form or program should include lists that inspire the manager to be more positive and focused. Quarterly goals and tracking of goals can be shared between employees and managers via twitter. Outline specific goals and milestones that are measurable throughout the year or quarter and communicate these goals often with social media platforms. Setting timelines and clearly outlining goals becomes more productive when shared often between manager and employee. Social electronic platforms make this an easily achieved benefit of the Performance Review Process.

Creating a system that assist your managers in tracking progress and addressing concerns does not have to be a difficult task. It is as simple as modifying your performance review templates to include a sheet for each quarter that includes a place for notes. Encouraging feedback or praise should be detailed.

  1. Consistent and Positive should be your Goal:

Performance management should be a regular and constant process, even for organizations that use an annual review. Set forth a process whereas your managers regularly and consistently check in with their employees. When communication derives from negative or corrective actions the employee changes his or her mindset maybe inadvertently nevertheless the interaction becomes negative and yields negative results. Change those dynamics and retrain managers to use performance reviews as a regular and consistent communication that can be positive. Praise and acknowledgment achieve more than mere productivity out of employees.



Federal Earned Income Tax Credit

All employers are required to notify all of their employees of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Employers must give notification within one week of providing employees with an annual wage summary (IRS Form W-2 or 1099).

You must give notification by either handing it directly to your employee or mailing it to your employee’s last known address. Posting of this information on an employee bulletin board will not satisfy the notification requirement.

The notification must include instructions on how to get any notices available from the IRS for the credit, including the IRS Notice 797 (PDF). You can create the notification, as long as it has the same or very similar language as the IRS notice. To learn more, visit EITC Information for Employers.





The views expressed in the newsletter are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of UCM Specialists. This information does not provide legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice. The content on this newsletter is “as is” and carries no warranties. UCM does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the content. Content and rights are reserved.