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WORKFORCE TODAY - 2nd Quarter Article, May 2020

It has been several weeks now since COVID-19 changed our lives, towards our work, family, friends and community.  As Human Resources Professionals, we must be very proud at how our HR community responded to this pandemic, pivoting to serve our constituents so they may be successful during this time of remote work, remote education and specialized customer assistance. As we continue with remote work through part of the summer or longer, we have to remember that there is a time when we will come together again as a face-to-face community.

As you prepare your organization to come back to work in the coming months, either in a slow, deliberate process, or in a more timely manner, there are many considerations that need to be addressed.  Some of those considerations include putting together a solid plan to help employees and those served by the organization (customers, clients and guests) feel safe, secure and welcoming to all.  

Some elements to consider when developing a “Return to Work Plan” include:

  1. Incorporating constituents as part of the development of the plan, so employees have a voice (Department Representatives, Selected Employees, Union Reps, Building Reps, Members of the Emergency Ops Team, Outside Constituents – Board Members, etc)

  2. Understanding childcare, summer camps, home schooling and family focused needs when bringing employees back from remote work

  3. Keeping employees on remote work for a longer period of time, if that process is working to serve the organization’s mission and outcomes

  4. Bringing employees back to work at the place of business, if they are not able to work remotely, instead of laying people off, so they may continue to work (with safety protocols in place)

  5. Following strict CDC (Center for Disease Control) and your state’s Health Department’s guidelines for bringing employees back to work at your place of business

  6. Developing a possible 4 phased approach to re-introducing employees back to the workplace:

    1. Phase 1 – Developing safety and social distancing protocols – including training

    2. Phase 2 – Bringing employees that cannot work from home back to work – with safety and social distancing protocols in place

    3. Phase 3 – Reintroducing employees to the place of business on a rotating bases – 2 to 3 days a week at the place of business, and 2 to 3 days working remotely – with safety and social distancing protocols in place

    4. Phase 4 – Everyone is back to work at the place of business – pandemic subsided or a vaccine is developed

    5. NOTE:  Phase 5 – A resurgence of the pandemic requires everyone to work remotely again…have a plan in place to transition employees back to remote work if needed

Below are some resources that are very useful when developing a “Return to Work Plan”

  1. RI SHRM’s own Director of Legislative Affairs, Gregory Tumolo, Esq, developed an intensive COVID-19 Resource Center that offers a wide variety of information on COVID-19 and other important information - https://rishrm.wildapricot.org/COVID-19-Resource-Center

  2. Training Videos

    1. General Coronavirus Training (Precautions & Preventative Measures) (Length: 1 minute, 28 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EALUx3LwfRA 

    2. Help Prevent COVID-19 with Social Distancing (Length: 30 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkW72NwcOUg 

    3. How to Wear a Mask (Length: 1 minute, 20 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5ZZkSTdbRs  

    4. How to Wash your Hands Properly (1 minute, 26 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezf2z9e_9lY

  3. Massachusetts Return to the Workplace Guide – May transverse to RI Return to Work

    1. https://my.aimnet.org/Product-Details?productid=%7bBAE113F4-5C99-EA11-8109-000D3A0DE1A1%7d&_cldee=bW9zdWxsaXZhbkBvbmVzb3V0aGNvYXN0LmNvbQ%3d%3d&recipientid=contact-bede9e82da83e91180fb000d3a0de1a1-b0e10968389743e5a8e2b16b343c862d&esid=7c4a9294-a698-ea11-8105-000d3a03faaf

  4. Rhode Island Return to Work Guide & Phase 1 Information

    1. https://health.ri.gov/covid/for/business/

    2. https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/reopening-rhode-island-phase-1-practical-guide-employers

    3. http://www.dlt.state.ri.us/pdfs/COVID-19%20Workplace%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

  5. Rhode Island Guide on COVID-19 Suspected Cases in the Workplace

    1. http://www.hr.ri.gov/documents/policies/COVID-19/FAQ%20COVID-19.pdf

  6. CDC Guidelines to Reopening Schools, Businesses and Transit Lines

    1. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/14/856483424/cdc-issues-decision-tools-to-guide-reopening-of-schools-businesses-transit

  7. Dealing with Zoom Fatigue

    1. https://news.northeastern.edu/2020/05/11/zoom-fatigue-is-real-heres-why-youre-feeling-it-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/

  8. Office Life After COVID-19

    1. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5dm7pk/youre-not-going-back-to-normal-office-life-for-a-long-long-time

For more information on these and other topics, please feel free to contact the Workforce Development Committee at RI-SHRM at ri.shrm.workforce@gmail.com 

WORKFORCE TODAY - 1st Quarter Article, Jan 2020

Scott Andrews, a member of the Workforce Development Committee for RI-SHRM, represented RI-SHRM at a recent meeting hosted by the Governor's Workforce Board at the Department of Labor and Training (DLT).  The purpose of the meeting was to allow employer groups to share what workforce development needs they have in order to source, attract, retain and train workers during organizational growth and development.  The information provided by the employers was to help form and direct the next initiatives of the DLT’s WIOA for the upcoming multi-plan year.  

With the understanding that attracting and retaining a strong skilled workforce continues to be important to businesses, the discussion mainly focused on two elements:  

    • Educating Rhode Island companies about WIOA:  It is the experience of the staff at the DLT and GWB that companies are not aware of the money available, nor the types of programs and services offered.  
    • Refining initiatives offered for the next plan cycle:  Workforce education, apprenticeship programs, pre and post corrections readiness programs

Companies shared the GWB that when a candidate is identified and hired, the new employees aren't showing up or aren't interested to be trained, which leads to companies favoring a plan for financial risk mitigation to train and up-skill workers.  Unfortunately, the general impression by the DLT and Governor's Workforce Board staff is that few companies know and understand that these WIOA programs exist and that programs and services can be bundled for efficiency and maximizing dollars.  For example, the work immersion program can be combined with a bonding program plus incumbent training.  Yet, even when a business leader is aware of the programs available, there is still a general sense that in order to delve into a program, there is a lot of paperwork, tracking and management to accompany the initiative.   As business leaders look to hire candidates utilizing WIOA funds, programs, and services, many companies do not see themselves as social service caseworkers to manage all of the programs / services that some candidates may need to navigate for employment.  In other words, while companies are open and willing to explore new avenues to attract, train and keep workers, the time allotted to managing these training and development programs and services may be too big a barrier for companies to take the first step.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the DLT staff and GWB staff acknowledged that they collectively have continued work to do to help educate employers about the programs and services available to help with workforce development.  As part of your planning for workforce development initiatives, RI-SHRM would like its members to consider contacting the Department of Labor and Training to gain awareness and help to implement programs and services beneficial to your organizations.  At any point in your planning and implementation phases, you may also reach out to the RI-SHRM Workforce Development Committee to get additional insight and guidance.  You may contact the Workforce Development Committee at RI-SHRM at

Please feel free to click on the links below to find out more information on RI DLT Grants, Tax Credits, Training Programs and Eventbrite Job Fairs.

DLT Grants and Tax Credits


Training Programs – Eligible Training Provider List from EmployRI


Job Fairs

Eventbrite - https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ri--providence/career-fair/

Thank you.

RI Society of Human Resource Management, 2019

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