Most Important Developments for 8/21

Nearly six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses are struggling to survive while still trying to maintain a productive and engaged workforce. Those employers that exhibit flexibility, empathy, and openness with their employees will be ahead of the game as the economy recovers, advised Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Before making blanket policies on issues such as remote work, it’s important to understand the needs of individual employees, Taylor said. “Have one-on-ones if you can. This is easier for smaller employers,” he said. “You may find some people have school-age children and others don’t. Some people can work remotely part time, maybe they have a partner who is home a couple of days a week. There are all sorts of ways we are encouraging flexibility, but it starts with listening to your employees.” SHRM

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A group of prominent business leaders across the retail, manufacturing, clothing, and restaurant industry signed a letter to the White House and top lawmakers in Congress on Monday calling President Donald Trump’s payroll tax order “unfair to employees,” and possibly “unworkable” for employers. The business groups, spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said carrying out the order could lead to hefty taxes down the road for workers. “Many of our members consider it unfair to employees to make a decision that would force a big tax bill on them next year,” the letter said. “It would also be unworkable to implement a system where employees make this decision.” The coalition said implementing the order would be “less challenging” if it didn’t require workers to pay it back. Business Insider

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Talk show icon and billionaire entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey is giving all of her workers Election Day off so they can cast their ballots. She made the announcement on Twitter and challenged other companies to follow her lead. “In honor of those who fought and continue to fight for our rights, I’m announcing that November 3rd, Election Day, will be a company holiday at @owntv,” she wrote in a note acknowledging the 100-year anniversary of the day women were given the right to vote. “This will give my team the necessary time to put on their masks, get to the polls, cast their ballots, and volunteer,” the 66-year-old powerbroker wrote.  New York Daily News

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Over the last 5 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has reset major work trends, causing HR leaders to pivot their workforce-related strategic goals and plans. According to a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, more than one-third of employers are facing challenges with maintaining company culture, and 14% of companies have hired more employees in response to COVID-19. As virtual onboarding continues to become the new norm, it is important that we become more cognizant of effective recruitment and the well-being of our employees. It is necessary now, more than ever, for employers to take into consideration an interviewee’s circumstances, timelines, and environmental factors while recruiting. HR Daily Advisor

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Bringing tens of thousands of employees back to the office during a pandemic is a huge task. Siemens, the 173-year-old German industrial giant, thinks an app can help. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Siemens has raced to give its workplace app Comfy a makeover for the coronavirus era. Want to reserve an open desk as offices are rearranged for social distancing? Check. Need to locate your coworkers? Check. Looking to book a conference room that’s big enough for two people to stay six feet apart? That’s taken care of, too. Siemens plans to roll out a basic version of the product to 100,000 of its workers across 30 countries by October. It’s a sign of how quickly companies are deploying new technology as they bring employees back to the office. The app can be used to check in for work, so managers can monitor how many employees are present at their offices. Comfy can also be used to call the elevator and request a floor, so employees can move throughout the building without touching buttons. CNN

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