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Remaining Current Amid Ever-Fluctuating Information Regarding COVID and the Workplace

In this time of uncertainty, information overload, not to mention public and political debate over what is the right course of action (and who is to blame for the mistakes of said actions), is rampant.  It is difficult to know exactly what is useful and accurate information, or even where to find it.

As fast as information is released, it is modified or changed altogether, making it extremely difficult for organizations to recognize which guidance to rely on.  Now more than ever is the time for business leaders to truly partner with their HR Professionals and corporate Safety Officers to ensure that information and changes to public edicts is communicated and implemented in a timely fashion.  Proactivity and readiness will ensure your workforce is well taken care of during this pandemic.  How your organization handles this pandemic will no doubt affect the morale and productivity of your workforce, not to mention your ability to engage and retain your employees.

As mentioned, it is important to keep up with the latest information and choose a select few sources for reference.  The best course of action is to rely on a limited number of resources from reputable sources.  Sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) have comprehensive, workplace-targeted resources and guidelines.

In addition to the above resources, you will want to follow the relevant state and local resources, as they are often targeted to the specific outbreak statistics and corresponding response remedies for the local area.  For example, if you are in employer conducting business in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you are required to provide employees with job-specific education and training on preventing the transmission of COVID-19.  The specific training that must be provided depends on the risk level employees face at work, as defined by the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health’s (VIOSH) Emergency Temporary Standards.  This training is required to be completed by August 26, 2020.

It is important to keep in mind that agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and OSHA have specific guidance with regards to testing, quarantining, handling employee complaints, and the fine line between exposure, illness, and those employees who are medically deemed as high risk.  In each of these situations, there is the potential for the integration of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), necessitating an interactive discussion with the employee.

Whether it be a Google Alert, a subscription to your employment attorney’s newsletters (let us know if you need a referral, we know some great ones), or simply checking your sources on a very regular basis, there are many ways to stay current.  The HR team at BOOST is also well versed in the latest COVID-related rules and regulations.  If you are looking for advice on how to navigate returning to the office, employee exposures, other questions about business continuity during the COVID pandemic, let’s connect!

Government 4th Quarter… Who the Heck Knows?

‘Tis the quarter of last-minute proposals, mad scrambles for key personnel, task order bidding, and trying to keep everything straight between whose team you are on and for what.  Add that to trying to manage multiple folks on vacation and everyone suffering from a bit of summer head (i.e. we’d rather be at the beach mentality).  Oh, and COVID… can’t forget work-from-home-forever, COVID.

It’s a time when some folks lose all strategic perspective and go whole-hog into the throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what hits strategy.  What is the difference between 5 proposals or 6 they think?

But….2020.  Need we say more?  Our response to practically everything these days is…2020.
Keeping all of that in mind, what does this government 4th quarter actually look like?

We’re hearing mixed results.  Some folks seem to be business as usual (which means crazy).  Our pricers are busy as are the proposal peeps.  There are a significant number of folks going after 8a STARS right now too.  But some folks are reporting that things seem quiet….eerily quiet.

For those on the quiet side, the question becomes, is there a true lack of opportunities?
Potentially, and here’s why:

  • Everyone is still focused on COVID related acquisitions
  • Money was spent on other priorities (IT infrastructure and/or pandemic related)
  • Acquisition process is slower these days due to remote work
  • Less intel opportunities since everyone is running at 50%
  • Less opportunities that are not on the large GWACs/IDIQ vehicles
  • Category management has effectively become the have and have nots, squeezing small business
  • Lack of access to government officials – everyone’s home, wandering around for snacks, not wandering the halls for business

Whatever the case may be, what’s important is that business owners and business development folks keep on top of the rumors, what they are seeing in their business and talk to their frenemies about their experiences.  Don’t be complacent that what you are seeing or experiencing is the same everywhere in GovCon.  Don’t fall into the trap or get lulled into a significant pause on your growth strategy or BD goals.

Not only do we spout great advice, we take it too. In our conversations with partners and frenemies, we’re continuously gathering new data on trends and gut feelings. Luckily for you, we don’t keep it all under wraps. BOOST is sponsoring the upcoming govmates Institute with Wolf Den & Associates titled, Virtual First: Business Development in a Post-COVID World. This event is free to govmates members. Check out the institute page and apply for a seat at the virtual institute ASAP.

What are you seeing in your line? Head over to our LinkedIn Page and join the conversation about current industry trends and where businesses are going from here.

Current Events and the Job Market

It goes without saying that the world is in quite an upheaval in culture and moving toward a new normal.
Yet, as we’ve said before, business must continue especially in the GovCon market and that includes hiring.

We must ask: Are you currently in the job market?

If so, you’re probably questioning whether to use your “professional platform” like LinkedIn to express your viewpoint during this #blacklivesmatter social justice movement. Well, you’re certainly not alone. Our talent acquisition team is constantly looking at candidates on a multitude of platforms before moving forward with them in the hiring process*. It would be difficult to present an outwardly misogynistic candidate – per his Instagram page – to a woman-owned/operated small business.  That would probably blow up in our faces as it should. However, simply moving forward with a candidate based on the meeting of requirements alone, sans a full picture of digital activity, is a definite oversight and a lesson learned once and forever. As social media presences have mattered before to recruiters, you can be sure they continue to be important now.

What does that mean for you as a candidate in an already COVID-19 riddled job market?

Do you shy away from posting things, or go out of your way to make accounts uber private and difficult for a google search or your name to find? Our answer to you would be a resounding “Hell NO!” Do not shy away from posting well-thought-out viewpoints because you’re concerned an organization may use it against your candidacy. Quite frankly if they do, you don’t want to work for them anyway, believe us. Our Talent Acquisition team wants to know that you are confident, expressive (a great way to show off your writing skills!), committed, and vocal when it mattered above all else. We wouldn’t want you to be any other way. If the tables were turned (we have ALL been candidates before) we would absolutely post about a ‘controversial’ topic without thinking twice about the ramifications because we’re very secure in our value as a candidate, and we would hope an organization would see it the same way. Our advice to all of the recruiters and the candidates in the market today would be to lean in. Lean in purposefully, kindly, with your eyes and hearts wide open. Through well thought out action we can all work toward the change that we’ve hoped to see in this world.

(*As a note, we are NOT lawyers, but we know some great ones, so to CYA you may want to double-check things with your lawyer friends to be safe.)

If you would like to discuss more about your digital footprint and best practices for job searching as a candidate or as a company, let’s have a conversation. Our Recruiting and Marketing teams work together to determine our client’s company culture and how you appear online to your potential employees.

Staring “New-Normal” in the Face

Are we ready to start talking about “coming back?”  In our humble opinion, regardless of what any politician says, we are not “back” until we can get our kids out of our house (sanity now!), but that’s a whole other story!

Honestly, we’re not sure if its safe yet, or what “coming back” truly looks like, but we do know that there are a ton of things we should be preparing for in the meantime.

Here are a few to get us started.

Employees – First and Foremost.
If they have successfully done their jobs remotely for the past months, first ask if they must come back. Could their jobs be done remotely going forward?  Maybe they just need to come in for a few meetings on site with the customer or a few team meetings.  Assuming you’ve already made the investment in providing access (i.e. laptop, etc.), why not consider making their position remote?

Clients – Partners or Pain?
Your relationship with your government customer and/or your prime is vital to the new path forward.  How often are you communicating with them?  Are you all messaging the same information to the workforce?  Are your policies consistent in how you will handle social distancing on site, providing PPP, sick leave requests, etc.?  Consistent, direct messaging is always best, especially now when nerves are frayed, and rumors are rampant.

New Employees – Recruiting isn’t the same.
Now more than ever we are hiring people via Zoom calls.  Make sure that your recruiting process is standardized so that you aren’t discriminating against potential candidates.  Really work on the questions you will ask (there are a ton of resources currently available). This will help you get the best feel for the candidate and if they will be a good fit for your company.  Make sure your online presence is updated so they can get a feel for you as a business.  Consider extending the interview panel to not just leadership, but peers so the candidate can get a good feel for the organization.  Currently, candidates are reluctant to make a move – for them it’s about the devil you know versus the devil you don’t.  You need to be able to easily convey what your organization stands for and its culture, so candidates feel confident to make the jump.

Office Space – It’s a whole new world.
Depending on your landlord, consider renegotiating your lease.  Look in the contract for any modifications that you need to make to have a more “socially distant” office space.  Gone are the days of 2 or 3 people sharing a cube.  There will be a ton of advice coming out about this, start paying attention to best practices.  Please give up on the idea that everyone must be in the same place at the same time.  Even our intel folks are finding ways to spread out the work, spread out the timing.  This will be the new standard going forward.

There are a million landmines ahead, and we’re pretty sure the lawyers will end up making out as we traverse this new world. But our strongest bet is on common sense and doing what is right will hold up. If you need help navigating this world, give us a shout.

Return to Work Plan: Not Business as Usual. (Webinar Replay)

On Tuesday, June 9th, BOOST’s CEO Stephanie Alexander moderated a digital panel discussing the transition of many businesses back to the workplace. As such, there are a number of important questions that employers need to be answered including:

  • What new legal requirements do employers need to consider?
  • What policies and procedures do employers need to implement before their employees step back into the workplace?
  • What do employers have to do versus what should they be doing?

In this discussion, we heard from Nichole Atallah and Sarah Nash of PilieroMazza PLLC and Mary Holmes of BOOST LLC.

You can catch the full replay here: