Guests: Anne Donovan, Daniel Ramsey
Recorded: May 12, 2020

Excerpt

If businesses are trying to access the new PPP cash relief and they want to keep their employees, this is the advice you need from an HR perspective!

MyOutDesk CEO Daniel Ramsey is with Xenium HR President Anne Donovan, and they discuss HR leadership tips when business is pivoting in today’s new market. Today, we’re all about canceling the fears of business owners with professional coaching advice. The new economy is new for all of us, so having a leadership coach somebody that you can use as a sounding board and bounce ideas.

Tune in on leadership tips on:

  • The new PPP Package — Balancing Shelter-in-Place rules and wanting to pay your employees
  • People Pivot — How to lead through the crisis with your people, keep them or lay them off/furlough + How to connect to the workforce virtually & keeping culture flowing
  • Furlough — Kept on benefits, still on benefits (hybrid before lay-off)
  • Workshare — We need all employees, no one is laid off but reduced schedules and they get unemployment pay for fewer hours
  • Have a daily and weekly huddle — people need to be grounded, staying connected with the people you furloughed/laid off with your team. They’re not forgotten and still tethered to your business Check in on a human level — not promising but keeping the human relation

Xenium HR is a human resource company and PEO (professional employer organization). They also do a lot of training and development and organizational development with compensation design and leadership coaching. So really, their brand is about human resources for the small to the mid-sized business community.

MyOutDesk brings you 15 years of recession-tackling knowledge. We are committed to supporting your continued drive to champion a thriving business and support your local community during the COVID-19 health crisis. Schedule a free strategy call today!

Transcript

00:00:06:18 – 00:00:33:19
Daniel Ramsey
Hey, everyone. Daniel Ramsey here with my out desk. And we’re excited because maybe today, maybe the new funding for PGP might happen. And I’ve got a special guest today and Donovan from Zim. h.R. Xeni am h.r. And we’re going to talk about everything related to employees h.r. Stuff you’re you’re and thank you so much for joining us. Let’s start real quick with your background and your story.

00:00:34:04 – 00:01:08:02
Anne Donovan
Okay, wonderful. Thanks for having me, Daniel. It’s wonderful to be here. So I am one of those unique birds that has worked for the same employer for my entire career. So yeah, 29 years with the Stoller group of companies and one of those companies that I’ve spent the last, oh, 24 years or so with is MHR. So yeah, I’m a I’m an H.R. person, my background and training and have had the pleasure to be able to take on the role of President for Zenia these last 11 years.

00:01:08:02 – 00:01:21:14
Anne Donovan
So it’s been a roller coaster ride, mostly good. And this last five, six weeks has definitely been one of these. So we’re hanging in there and doing all right. So thanks for having me on.

00:01:21:21 – 00:01:30:24
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah, it’s our pleasure. And so did you start at the front desk? I mean, 29 years? I mean, did you literally start like answering phones and saying hi to people?

00:01:31:09 – 00:01:45:18
Anne Donovan
I did. In fact, I was an intern in my bachelor’s degree. So even pre graduation, I worked for Express Employment Professionals, which is a sister company to Xenia. And so definitely answering the phone and running payroll.

00:01:45:21 – 00:02:07:23
Daniel Ramsey
I love it all the way from there to president. Well, it’s good stuff. Yeah. Today’s topic is the pivot people or people pivot. So we’re going to talk about, you know, what the CARES Act is doing, the PPE stuff, also the different classifications. One thing about your company is that you are primarily an eight h.r. Kind consultancy like that’s your main business.

00:02:07:23 – 00:02:16:22
Daniel Ramsey
So let’s talk a little bit about that. So people have an understanding of what you do and what your world looks like so they can listen and then understand your expertize.

00:02:17:10 – 00:02:42:20
Anne Donovan
Great. Yes. So we serve customers in in three basic ways, but across all of those three service offerings, we always do. h.R. So we go to market as a human resource company. And then within that while we our roots are in PTO professional employer organization, we also do ASO services for our clients, which is the integration of payroll and H.R.

00:02:43:02 – 00:03:13:11
Anne Donovan
And benefits administration. And then we do human resource consulting. h.R. Oh, we refer to it as where we have retainer agreements with our clients and really become the extension of their team as their H.R. department. Yes, we do a lot of training and development and organizational development with compensation design and leadership coaching. So really our our brand is about human resources for the small to midsize business community.

00:03:13:11 – 00:03:28:20
Daniel Ramsey
I love it. What’s what’s interesting is you guys actually have like a coaching slash consultant to CRM to your business. Talk to me about that. I mean, it’s it’s interesting because we’re going through these, like you said, this roller coaster of times. What are those conversations looking like right now?

00:03:29:13 – 00:03:56:15
Anne Donovan
Well, you know, people are fearful and this is new for all of us. So having a leadership coach, somebody that you can use as a sounding board and bounce ideas or how do I handle this communication to my employees, to my fellow leaders? It’s been one really amazing aspects of our business is that while we are a PTO and doing payroll benefits administration and the h.r.

00:03:56:15 – 00:04:27:13
Anne Donovan
Generalist work that all good pillows do, we’ve been able to blend in some of that higher level coaching and training for managers that has rounded out our service offerings in a way that offers these extra layers of a larger, wider h.r. Department. And so we in times like now when things are really uncertain and people are in a changing landscape, we can dove in and help with those leadership coaching conversations because it’s really good h.r.

00:04:27:13 – 00:04:34:14
Anne Donovan
And good communication. It’s new for us too, but it’s been amazing to be able to offer that in addition to our core competencies.

00:04:35:02 – 00:04:49:10
Daniel Ramsey
Okay. So we’re going to dove in because we’ve got a lot of topics to cover and we’re going to start with the BPP because it just came out this morning that they’ve re authorized more money or there looks like there’s going to be a deal on the table.

00:04:49:17 – 00:04:50:03
Anne Donovan
Yeah.

00:04:50:10 – 00:05:10:03
Daniel Ramsey
Now the conundrum that I want to talk about is many businesses are not yet open, meaning they may want the money but then not have the business to take advantage of the money and not sure whether they should open or hire back people. And I’m curious your perspective around that.

00:05:11:04 – 00:05:38:01
Anne Donovan
Yeah, it’s a tricky timing situation, right? Yes. You people are now getting funded. Many of our clients are seeing those dollars come into their accounts. And yet if they’re in the restaurant space or we have a few workout facilities, they’re closed down. So. Right. The risk and the challenges in order to get the money forgiven, you need to bring those employees back to work.

00:05:38:01 – 00:05:54:09
Anne Donovan
But if you are open, if you are not open and you’re shut down, how helpful is that going to be? So, you know, I don’t know that there’s a whole lot a business can do because it’s a first come, first serve, and you just got to get in there and hope for the best that you can get that money funded.

00:05:54:19 – 00:06:13:17
Anne Donovan
And yet I’ve heard about businesses who got funded and then felt like that happened a little too early or I can’t even open up for at least another perhaps 4 to 6 weeks. And so being able to bring my employees back isn’t really going to benefit the business. I wish it had been four or six weeks later. So that’s the conundrum.

00:06:14:02 – 00:06:33:02
Anne Donovan
And, you know, I think you just have to look at your own particular situation of, you know, those key employees and who would you want to bring back to make sure that you are tethering them to your business? Because we will get on the other side of this. And I think one of the worst things that can happen is people lose their great employees to another employer because of that uncertainty.

00:06:33:09 – 00:06:54:24
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah, well, we were talking earlier about what are some strategies? So we’ll get into that. But I think there is a lot of information in this topic or or at least a topic or a talking points. Like, for instance, let’s say we’re a service company, our you know, even if we open up today, like let’s say you’re a car repair shop, well, guess what?

00:06:54:24 – 00:07:15:16
Daniel Ramsey
I haven’t drove my car in almost 45 days. Like, we’re just not driving anymore. So, you know, I don’t need my oil change. I don’t need new tires. I don’t need a clean I do need a haircut, though. And you know what? Those. Oh, my goodness. Haircut. I can’t wait. You know, like I said, there’s a first thing haircut and a nice restaurant.

00:07:15:16 – 00:07:31:17
Daniel Ramsey
I can’t wait for those things to reopen. But what do you say to somebody who’s got, you know, declining sales not open? They’ve got some of the peop they want to keep their employees. They’re not sure how to spend the money. Like, what’s your advice from an H.R. perspective?

00:07:32:17 – 00:08:03:15
Anne Donovan
You know, I would prioritize the list of people that are critical to your business, and those are the ones that I think it’s worth the investment to bring them back on your payroll, even if you don’t have work to give them because you want to keep them when we get on the other side of this, right. So writing out what we’ve been guiding our clients on is really several different scenarios, whether, you know, you’ve got the PPE and now you need to figure out how to maximize the forgiveness of that loan.

00:08:03:16 – 00:08:24:18
Anne Donovan
Right. You got to use 75% of it for the employee component. But then perhaps there’s an element to use the Social Security deferral or up until the point that you ask for that forgiveness of cash as an issue, then perhaps you want to be able to navigate the timing of using the deferral up until you ask for forgiveness.

00:08:24:24 – 00:08:44:19
Anne Donovan
So there are some, I think, levers you can pull. And in terms of the h.r. World, it’s really looking at your own particular situation and thinking it’s really hard to do but thinking three months and six months down the road and really, you know, most of us are not in this for just a few months. We’re in this for the other side.

00:08:45:00 – 00:09:06:06
Anne Donovan
So you have to force yourself to think in these mid and long term scenarios. And I think it’s it’s always for us about people, it’s always about those employees and making sure that you’re keeping them engaged, that they’re they’re feeling communicated to. So we’ve been spending a lot of time talking to our clients about what communication have you given to your employees.

00:09:06:06 – 00:09:10:07
Anne Donovan
So that they even if you don’t have answers, they’re hearing from you every single week?

00:09:10:17 – 00:09:33:00
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah, it’s interesting because we’re helping our clients kind of and to your point, it’s making a plan like what is a short term mid-term thing and what’s our long term, you know, plan? Because we’re a staffing company, we have virtual assistant services. And what’s interesting is there’s so much uncertainty in in right now in understanding what the short term revenue picture is going to be.

00:09:33:00 – 00:09:53:23
Daniel Ramsey
You know, like, are people going to want to buy things? Are people going to want to go out? Will our schools reopen? I mean, I’m a wrestling coach at a high school and I love wrestling. And I’m not sure if it’s going to happen, you know, this this fall when are normal, you know, situation. So I think there’s a lot of challenge in knowing and predicting what sales are going to be.

00:09:54:09 – 00:10:14:20
Daniel Ramsey
But what we’re hoping our clients do is think about your value proposition in today’s new world. So, you know, we have a good client who is a housecleaner and I know it sounds crazy, but she cleans houses and commercial spaces and so we’re talking with her and she’s like, Well, I don’t know what what’s my new value proposition in Corona Times?

00:10:14:20 – 00:10:40:23
Daniel Ramsey
Like, what do I say? And I’m like, Well, you’re the only certified Corona specialist to help clean office. And she’s like, Oh, my goodness, you know, so we’re helping our clients kind of zig and zag rebrand their their value proposition as well as think about ways to drive value for your internal staff so that even if you bring them back and sales aren’t awesome, what are some of the projects that you need to do?

00:10:40:23 – 00:10:49:12
Daniel Ramsey
What are some of the things that would add to the long term enterprise value of your business? And so I’m just curious, what does that look like for you guys and your clients?

00:10:49:23 – 00:11:14:10
Anne Donovan
Yeah, I think a topic that we spent a lot of time talking about was internally and with our clients. Is this cross training element in small business, right? Everybody needs to wear a lot of hats and and you need to make sure that those folks that are highly productive, really good at what they do, are trained and ready to be deployed on as many different things as you need them to do.

00:11:14:10 – 00:11:32:14
Anne Donovan
Because I think this new normal is going to be potentially for a while. You’re going to rely on people to do more things than they used to do. And when people can can do those things, it’s going to make them that much more valuable to the business. You know, for us, we do a lot of our consulting and there’s tons of h.r.

00:11:32:14 – 00:11:55:15
Anne Donovan
Questions right now. So yeah, our, our pivot is that we’re really trying to talk to companies about, you know, how can we help support you through all the questions around the Department of Labor regulations and the guidance that changes and has been changing and, and being ready and nimble for them to help interpret and answer those questions, that’s been really helpful.

00:11:55:15 – 00:12:06:16
Anne Donovan
And, you know, our team has been busier than ever with those types of conversations. So that’s been really good and it’s a little bit of doing what we do really well, but in a new landscape and then a new normal.

00:12:06:24 – 00:12:23:12
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah. So the, I think the connecting with your employees, even if they’re laid off, furloughed, not in the office like that’s a tricky one. Right. So how do you do that and what does that look like from your perspective being the h.r. Person? I’m really curious.

00:12:23:19 – 00:12:44:05
Anne Donovan
Yeah. So I’ll just talk about what xeni and has done because it’s something that I think we always challenge ourselves to be doing more. But, but a couple of things we’ve done that have been effective. We have a culture is really important to us and we help work with our clients and how do they build and maintain a great culture for their employees?

00:12:44:16 – 00:13:05:05
Anne Donovan
One of the ways we’ve done that is through a recognition program, give each other wild cards. We have this monthly all team meeting in normal times where we all get together. Well, now we’ve pivoted to handle that via a teams meeting that we record and we read off the recognition to all of the employees and it has exploded in our company.

00:13:05:05 – 00:13:27:22
Anne Donovan
So is probably triple what we normally get in these recognitions and then I’m on the call and a couple other folks from our employee satisfaction team that we call Excite are reading these off and then we publish that every single week. So they’re hearing my voice. It’s a feel good thing about what we’re how we’re helping each other out and and then we’re doing written communication too.

00:13:27:22 – 00:13:43:16
Anne Donovan
So emails that go out and say, okay, week four of you know, people working from home, this is what’s going on. And just trying to remind people about the ERP benefits. If you’re feeling isolated, remember that you’ve got this benefit out there. All the different things that Xeni has done along.

00:13:43:18 – 00:13:46:11
Daniel Ramsey
What’s the what’s VIP? I don’t know.

00:13:46:20 – 00:13:48:22
Anne Donovan
Yeah, sorry. Too many acronyms and each. Yeah.

00:13:49:05 – 00:13:53:24
Daniel Ramsey
So remember, I’m a dumb entrepreneur. I’m probably one of your clients, you know, or I should go.

00:13:54:14 – 00:14:30:11
Anne Donovan
Yeah, we would love that. So ERP is Employee Assistance Program and oftentimes kind of a real affordable benefit that provides counseling, confidential counseling services to employees so that managers h.r. People we’re not counselors not licensed to do that kind of work. And when our employees are challenged and they’re going through tough personal situations, they can’t have a phone call and then in normal times an in-person visit with a counselor if they need it, because everybody is in this very uncertain place and they need these they need support system and a sounding board.

00:14:30:19 – 00:14:38:21
Anne Donovan
So it’s think digging deep into what you already did well before this challenge and then reminding employees that those resources are there.

00:14:38:21 – 00:15:01:24
Daniel Ramsey
I love it. Okay. We’re going to do the people pivot portion of this. There’s a lot of interesting there’s tax advantage stuff going on. There’s a lot of options for employees and employers. Unemployment is crazy rich these days for employees. We were talking you’re in Oregon. We’re in California. It’s over $1,000 a week in both of our states.

00:15:02:07 – 00:15:18:03
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah. Let’s talk through some of the options as an employer to kind of shepherd our people through this time frame if we can’t use them in their full capacity. And then how do we get them back? Because you don’t want to lose your best talent, right? So let’s talk through all of those things and.

00:15:18:14 – 00:15:45:17
Anne Donovan
Yeah, so so some of the strategies that we have been working with our clients on is this notion between what’s the difference between furlough and layoff. And so when this first started, we were really talking with our clients about, you know, if this is a timing or short term situation, then a furlough is a great option because it typically means that you’re keeping them on benefits, but they are not being paid so they can access the unemployment system.

00:15:46:02 – 00:16:14:20
Anne Donovan
And so that’s sort of a I call it a hybrid approach before a layoff. Now, a layoff typically means that the benefits are stopping and a Cobra letter would go out if there’s benefits in play. And that’s a little bit more of a permanent situation. But if you have the ability to look at a furlough first, it gives employees, again, the benefit coverage for an extra month or two and it allows you to continue to have a conversation with them about there’s this potential of bringing it back.

00:16:15:13 – 00:16:40:20
Anne Donovan
The other thing I would mention, Daniel, is that work sure is a valid option for some employers. And I know you know about this model, but it’s this ability to say we need all of our employees. We don’t want to let any one individual or a handful of individuals off. So how do we reduce the schedules of all perhaps 20 or 40%, and then they get unemployment for that pro rata portion?

00:16:40:24 – 00:16:43:17
Anne Donovan
So that’s been a really good model for a lot of our clients.

00:16:44:02 – 00:16:53:22
Daniel Ramsey
Okay. Well, it’s interesting on the work share, can you ask them to take their vacation time or can you ask them to do I mean, is that an approved strategy in your world?

00:16:54:15 – 00:17:22:19
Anne Donovan
That would be a little different because works you would pay when the employer is not paying. Right. And if you have paid accrued leave, that’s an example of an employer, you know, using money from their books to pay their employees works is really about sharing in a reduced schedule so that the employer gets the benefit of those wages, not going out each week, but the unemployment kicking in in that kind of pro-rata basis for a period of time.

00:17:23:00 – 00:17:50:12
Anne Donovan
Now, you may need to change that strategy as your own situation evolves so you could move from work share to full unemployment for some of those individuals or for everyone. I think that’s the advice we’ve been giving, is be be prepared to change up that strategy as your business changes. Because with people back to the PPE, if people are getting funded, they’re going to be incented to bring those employees back to work.

00:17:50:12 – 00:18:11:24
Anne Donovan
So they may not be on unemployment anymore, but we’ve got to find ways to make sure that you are maximizing how you can use those employees so that you can get that loan forgiveness. So I think it’s all you got to layer the how do we maximize in unemployment if we need to and and what levers inside unemployment versus PPE versus Social Security deferral?

00:18:12:10 – 00:18:16:08
Anne Donovan
It’s sort of like a chess board, isn’t it? The things, it’s like crazy math.

00:18:16:08 – 00:18:34:04
Daniel Ramsey
I mean, to be honest, like the other night, I was playing with spreadsheets and trying to understand exactly. I mean, I think a lot of us are in that scenario, like, wait, wait, who do I need to talk to and what’s the scenario? So you and you’ve agreed before we wrap up, you’ve agreed to do a free consultation for people.

00:18:34:04 – 00:18:44:16
Daniel Ramsey
So let’s talk about that and then and then we’ll kind of wrap up with how do I keep my employees even if they’re furloughed or laid off, or how do I get them to come back when I need them to come back?

00:18:44:16 – 00:18:45:18
Anne Donovan
So great.

00:18:45:18 – 00:18:48:17
Daniel Ramsey
Let’s talk about what’s your free offer for our kids?

00:18:48:24 – 00:19:20:15
Anne Donovan
Absolutely. So one of the things that we do all day long, every day for many, many employers is what we call go to h.r. And it’s it’s an extension of our clients team. They can call their h.r. Business partner and ask a hotline question is what we call them. So we would be willing for anybody who’s watching this podcast to give me a call info at zonealarm dot com and just reference that you saw the podcast with you and I and we would be happy to help with a hotline related H.R. question Okay.

00:19:20:15 – 00:19:29:20
Daniel Ramsey
Because I can’t spell. I didn’t do well in English in high school. How would I spell that? XENI H.R. say that. Yes.

00:19:30:15 – 00:19:41:12
Anne Donovan
So our on our website, it would be info I info at z vma char x n iu m h r dot com.

00:19:41:17 – 00:19:43:21
Daniel Ramsey
I bet you have to do that all the time, right? It’s like.

00:19:44:02 – 00:19:47:04
Anne Donovan
Yes. Pronunciation of Xeni M as well. Okay.

00:19:47:13 – 00:20:06:23
Daniel Ramsey
Perfect. Okay. So thanks again for being here. I think it’s been awesome. One thing that I want to wrap up with is just how do I stay connected to our employees when they’re maybe not doing a full work schedule or they’re not in the office or they’re no longer with the company? And if I want to bring them back, what does that look like?

00:20:06:23 – 00:20:13:05
Daniel Ramsey
And just give us some tips and strategies around keeping your talent on the bus, so to speak.

00:20:13:14 – 00:20:34:17
Anne Donovan
Great. Yes. One of the ways that we’ve internally been operating and also advising our clients is to have a daily huddle. Now, that’s for your employees that are working from home remotely. We’re used to just perhaps walking down the hall and saying, Hey, I’ve got this question or let’s have a quick standup meeting. Now we’re calling them huddles because people need to be grounded.

00:20:34:17 – 00:20:57:10
Anne Donovan
And what’s important now and what do I need to do today and this week along in concert with the rest of my team? So this daily and weekly huddle, I think is a great strategy for remote workers. It’s a way for you to you can see people through video conference. I mean, I highly recommend if you can get both video and audio, it makes a huge difference because you get that nonverbal.

00:20:58:20 – 00:21:19:08
Anne Donovan
And then in terms of bringing people back, I think staying connected, if you end up getting into a furlough or layoff position, have your managers reach out to those folks. If you really want to keep those folks tethered to the business, they need to hear from the people that they’re most connected to and that, I think, will really help with the culture of when people are coming back into the workplace.

00:21:19:08 – 00:21:25:20
Anne Donovan
They don’t feel like they were just forgotten. Right? They’re a part of the family and they stay connected and important to the business.

00:21:26:09 – 00:21:48:07
Daniel Ramsey
How okay. So this is a I like your answer is amazing textbook. It’s perfect, but give me the nitty gritty because how would you actually do that? Like, what’s that like? Hey, I’m your manager. I know you’re no longer employed with us, but we want you to stay with us. And I’m just checking in. I mean, what’s the interaction look like?

00:21:48:19 – 00:22:08:07
Anne Donovan
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s different depending on if they’re in a furlough and they’re still on your benefit plans than if they’re in a full layoff. I think obviously you can gauge the conversation a little bit differently, but, you know, connecting with your leadership team and you really identify and who are those people that when we get on the other side of this, we want them back?

00:22:09:03 – 00:22:33:03
Anne Donovan
I mean, I would treat it like a conversation with a regular, active employee because relationships don’t begin and ends just because they’re coming into the workplace. A relationship is a relationship. So you’re asking him how their family is. You’re asking them, you know, how they’re navigating the unemployment system and really just checking in on a human level. And you’re not promising because he can’t promise anything yet.

00:22:33:09 – 00:22:38:08
Anne Donovan
But that human connection is what really makes a difference. And people remember that. They do.

00:22:38:19 – 00:22:50:04
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah. Okay. And Donovan, Xenia, MHR, thank you so much for joining us today. You’ve been great. I really appreciate your professionalism, all the advice that you have and just thanks for being here.

00:22:50:16 – 00:22:53:04
Anne Donovan
Thank you so much. Daniel is a pleasure to be here.