The workforce is returning to the workplace. Public health questions loom large, generally speaking. For PEOs and their clients, there are major legal risk management issues. Employees will file workers’ compensation claims based on COVID-19 diagnoses. In some jurisdictions, COVID-19 is presumed to be a work-related illness. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will scrutinize return-to-work safety due diligence and will issue citations. Employees may use such safety violations to pursue enhanced workers’ compensation penalties. Creative plaintiffs’ lawyers will search for loopholes to file civil lawsuits against employers for inadequate safety measures. It will be a feeding frenzy.
Industry statistics and practical reality have demonstrated countless times that PEOs provide businesses a distinct competitive advantage during normal times. When COVID-19 arrived and ushered in unprecedented business disruption, clients relied on the guidance of their PEOs more than ever before, and the value proposition of PEO further expanded. Indeed, PEOs have been a crucial resource to clients throughout the many challenges this crisis has presented.
When the COVID-19 crisis began a few months ago, we were reminded of the importance of our investments in our internal processes. Our culture is customer-centric, and we strive to maintain high net promoter scores. As the crisis unfolded, we were able to lean on those strengths. The following is a Q&A roundtable from the CEO, finance, and operations perspectives about the insights we gained through the crisis and our thoughts about what challenges and opportunities may lie ahead.
This pandemic has brought with it an enormous amount of change, uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. Every individual has been affected slightly differently, but overall everyone has been affected in some way great or small. One overriding theme we have witnessed while working with our clients during this time has been employers trying to do right by their employees. Employers have had to make tough decisions with ever-changing information to determine what they want to do, what is best for their employees, what is best for their businesses’ survival, and what they can afford to do and for how long.
As the workforce evolves amidst this pandemic, the strategic next step for a company can seem daunting, especially if there isn’t a plan in place. For many companies navigating these unprecedented times, this can be an overwhelming situation filled with confusion about where to turn, though it doesn’t have to be. Reassurance that it isn’t too late to create a strategic plan unique to the business is key, especially with the assistance of a PEO and the value it brings to an organization.
I have been through recessions, the tech bubble, and 9/11, but nothing compares to the impact COVID-19 has had on our lives. It has slowed our economy to a crawl, quarantined us in our homes, and impacted the health of many people throughout the world. Our lives have been forever changed, and while we do not necessarily know the full impact of that change, we do know we are walking into our new norm.
This has been a challenging time, to say the least. As many states and cities put forth plans to reopen for business and welcome their employees back to the workplace, we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
NAPEO JOINS SMALL BUSINESS COALITION • NAPEO COMMITS TO WORKING ON ISSUES OF OPPORTUNITY, DIVERSITY, & INCLUSION • BUSINESS SHIFT: APPAREL TO MASKS • CDC GUIDELINES FOR OFFICE BUILDINGS • EMPLOYING ABILITIES @WORK PROGRAM • BUSINESS PIVOTS • WILL EVENTUAL RECOVERY INCLUDE JOBS TO GO BACK TO?
Businesses and PEOs across the world have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the challenge is one we at Nextep tackled head-on, it presented many obstacles we’ve worked through together.
Nextep is no stranger to difficult times. Like many others, we have persevered through 9/11, the housing market crash, tornadoes, and more. In 23 years of business, our responses to stressors help us learn, grow, and prepare for the unexpected.
What started as a nostalgic look back at a couple of PEOs’ oldest client relationships turned into reports from the front lines as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded.
Many states, if not all by the time this article is published, have relaxed shelter-in-place or similar orders and employers have begun the process of bringing employees back to work at their respective places of business. There have been lots of return-to-work webinars, instructions, and policies and procedure forms made available, and all have been helpful. What makes this time different is how fast circumstances change and how often governments issue new and updated guidance. It has kept those of us in the employment law field on our toes, to say the least. In this article, I will review broadly what employers should expect next and what they and PEOs can do to position themselves best to compete in this new environment as we move into Phase II of the COVID-19 crisis and look forward to Phase III and beyond.
Leadership expert John Maxwell recently said, “I can’t position the future, but I can prepare myself for the future.” As this article is being prepared, the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis continue to change. Given the continuing upheaval in the workplace, economy, and insurance marketplace, this article is intended to provide general commentary on preparing for the future.
“It is a pandemic. The world is coming to an end. It’s about the science. Stay closed!” The media has been trumpeting this message for the last three months. It is enough to frighten off the faint of heart.
But do not let your hearts be troubled—the PEO industry is very resilient and will adapt, innovate, and ultimately accelerate out of this down market.
It’s time for us to have a chat. I want to talk about assessing where you are as a PEO sales professional and making plans for long-term success. Your world has changed, and fast!
• The severity and the impact of the corona virus caught you off guard.
• You’ve made a lot of decisions that were concerning to you because you had no reference point.
• You’ve lost some clients and some have downsized their employee counts...
Despite COVID-19 waiting until the last month of the first quarter to disrupt most parts of the U.S., all eight metrics from NAPEO’s quarterly survey fell to their lowest levels in the study’s four-year history. Highlights include:
• Revenue growth was the most impacted metric, relative to previous quarters;
• Gross profit was also negatively affected, though operating profit was more resilient; and
• The single positive was that workers’ compensation claims plummeted, with only 6 percent reporting an increase in claims.
These are extraordinary times. I’m not sure how many times I have written or read that line in the past few months, but it is true. But these are also times when PEOs have stepped up across the country.