COVID-19 changed how the world works. For small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) especially, it can be difficult to navigate and move forward in a world that is suddenly very different. From managing payroll for a modified workforce to ensuring workplaces are fully compliant and safe for employees, there is a lot to consider. With no real end to the pandemic yet in sight, businesses must adapt to a new normal in order to survive and thrive beyond it.
While this isn’t the simplest undertaking, it isn’t impossible. In fact, for many businesses, success will depend on the ability to remain productive while adjusting to new realities as the situation evolves. Keep reading to learn how partnering with a PEO can help businesses adjust to a new normal.
PPP Loan Assistance
For many businesses, the most pressing challenge brought by COVID-19 is an interruption of cash flow. Without a predictable influx of customers, businesses are struggling to make ends meet, pay their employees, and plan for the future. Some industries may see permanent changes in business models that could have long-term implications for SMBs far beyond the duration of COVID-19.
The Paycheck Protection Program, a loan introduced by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, helps businesses keep their workforce employed during COVID-19. The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act provides further federal support for small businesses.
While helpful measures, the various federal assistance programs are complex and require a lot of administrative effort. By partnering with a PEO, SMBs receive the benefit of dedicated support to help make sense of each legislative change, as well as step-by-step guidance in completing required paperwork like loan forgiveness applications.
Payroll and Workforce Modifications
COVID-19 brought the unexpected shuttering of all kinds of businesses, forcing employers to make tough decisions about their employees. Facing major reductions in revenue and rising costs, many businesses have had to temporarily furlough workers or even permanently lay-off some of their workforce. With new public health concerns at play, employers must also consider all possible reassignment or accommodation measures for high-risk or high-contact employees.
All these modifications lead to mounting administrative workloads as all changes must be properly recorded and implemented. Changes in an employee’s wage and hour status, for example, can impact payroll or an employee’s benefits eligibility. It’s vital for employers to log and address all changes in employment status while keeping up with shifting legal requirements.
Many SMBs utilize external payroll services, but a PEO is much more than a payroll service provider. A PEO, or Professional Employer Organization, is licensed to handle all payroll administration on behalf of your company. Unlike traditional payroll service providers which only handle some parts of payroll administration, a PEO also provides dedicated one-on-one support for all payroll-related matters. During a public health crisis like COVID-19, such support has proven to be invaluable for SMBs. As a co-employer, a PEO assumes certain financial responsibilities on behalf of its clients, including all payroll administration and compliance with local, state, and federal tax laws. It’s a much bigger responsibility than simply processing payroll, which means PEOs are able to provide much more comprehensive support.
Return to Work Support
The reopening of various businesses across each state, while positive overall, presents a whole new set of challenges for businesses to address. With no true end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, businesses must adjust and find new ways to move forward.
Reopening workplaces will require employers to adhere to a wide range of new health and safety regulations, including new sanitization procedures, requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face coverings, and employee health monitoring. Employers will also have to reconsider their hiring practices, ensuring they are not discriminating against or causing unreasonable distress to high-risk applicants or employees. When your business is ready to welcome employees back, a PEO partner can help you figure out which regulations apply to your business.
Though it’s been a difficult few months, COVID-19 uncovers critical opportunities for businesses to address some of their most pressing HR challenges and implement effective solutions. The benefits of partnering with a PEO to uncover those solutions are more apparent than ever before. As COVID-19 presents new challenges, PEOs are continuing to explore better ways to help SMBs protect their employees and build a more sustainable future.