Living through a pandemic is not something anyone expects to do. Pandemics are the things of movies, not something that happens in real life. Without having any real-world experience with anything remotely similar to this, there are many questions about what to expect and just as much uncertainty about working during a time like this. Even with all of this, essential businesses remain open and people continue to go to work on a daily basis.
Every business within the United States is required to follow guidelines set in place to maintain a safe work environment. These guidelines have grown tremendously in the last few months with temporary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. The way these guidelines are followed is different for each business depending on the company size and the nature of the business. Based on conversations with both current essential workers and the employers they work for, here’s what to expect when returning to work.
- Symptom Awareness: Many businesses have implemented daily temperature checking routines. The majority of this is done on the arrival of all employees and guests, while other companies have multiple checks throughout the day. At some businesses, a COVID-19 questionnaire must be completed by new employees and visitors upon arrival asking if they are showing any of the current symptoms identified by the CDC and if they have been exposed to anyone diagnosed with Coronavirus. Only those who pass both of these checks are allowed to enter the business.
- Social Distancing: All businesses are required to enforce social distancing, ensuring employees maintain a distance of six feet whenever possible. In the most extreme cases, entire companies have emptied their sites of workers, forcing many employees to work from home. Of those who are able to continue working on-site, they are doing so with adjusted operations. Companies have created new shifts or modified work hours to allow for less staff to come in direct contact with each other. Breaks are now staggered or break areas have been expanded to spread out workers. Warehouses have adjusted the way work is completed, with the number of employees operating a machine or working on a line decreasing significantly. In some locations, visual pieces have been added to the manufacturing lines to assist in maintaining a six-foot distance.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): With the latest state mandate, every company open to the public within Pennsylvania now must require all essential staff and visitors to wear a mask while on site. Some may also require employees to wear gloves, which are to be frequently changed or cleaned. These are generally provided by the company and are to be worn at all times within the business.
- Cleaning: Businesses have started implemented more rigorous cleaning. In larger companies, extra staff has been hired to ensure that all surfaces are being disinfected regularly throughout the workday. Smaller businesses have provided staff with cleaning supplies that can be used to disinfect work stations or communal areas.
- Atmosphere: With everyone in our community going through this together, there is a stronger sense of unity. Employees are working more as a team than ever before to ensure work is being completed efficiently and safely. People who remain working are thankful for the position they have and have a positive outlook on each and every day.
There are many fears surrounding starting a new job and those fears have only grown with COVID-19. Having the knowledge of what to expect on your first day and the information on what is being done to keep employees safe makes things much easier.
Although things are nowhere near what they were a few months ago, people are adapting to the current way of life. This new sense of normalcy has taken time to get used to, but it is manageable. People and companies continue to function and life carries on.
Allied continues to support the many essential businesses in the Lehigh Valley and we are hiring! Visit our job board and apply today!
For the past several years the labor market has held many opportunities for workers in all fields and with all levels of skills and experience. Often referred to as an “employee’s market”, since the end of the Great Recession companies have been hiring at a rapid pace and motivated workers could be selective about the jobs they chose.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the booming employment market has screeched to a near halt, where the only work available is for workers at essential businesses or those with jobs that are able to be performed remotely. For many out of work, the solution has been receiving unemployment benefits. With the CARES Act, weekly unemployment benefits were increased to assist families struggling with the financial impact of this crisis.
Making the decision to file a claim for unemployment benefits can be a difficult one for many people, even with the additional benefit included in the CARES Act. But in the long run, benefits associated with choosing a job can outweigh the short-term gain of unemployment. There are a few things everyone should consider regarding working vs. collecting unemployment.
- Think big picture. We have always stressed the importance of looking beyond today and thinking about “the big picture.” Envision what you want your career to look like in a few years, and how choices you make now might affect that vision. Passing up an opportunity to work now could close some doors down the road that otherwise might have been open.
- Beat the competition. Everything must come to an end eventually. That means not only will your unemployment benefits eventually end, but the current state of the economy will end too. If you have ever searched for a job during a competitive labor market, you know how frustrating it can be to find a steady, well-paying job. Right now there is less competition for the work that is available, so it’s a great time to start a new job.
- A chance to stand out. It is easy to imagine that in a few years many, many people will have a big gap on their resume that represents 2020, and it can be tempting to just fall in line with the majority. But what about people that started a new job in 2020? Those are definitely going to be the people that stand out. Even if the job isn’t something long-term or the perfect fit with your prior experience, just the fact that you will be able to share how you spent 2020 differently than most people will definitely set you apart from the crowd.
- New opportunities. Essential businesses need workers now, so many positions that previously required experience are being opened up to entry-level employees. If you’ve always wanted to reinvent your career, now could be the perfect chance. (And if you aren’t quite sure how your skills can be applied to something new, give us a call, we can help!)
- Benefits. Wages aren’t the only thing a weekly paycheck includes. When you are working full-time your benefits may include paid time off, access to health benefits, and contributions to your retirement. If you are able to retain any of these benefits while collecting unemployment the cost will certainly be higher. In addition, any benefits that accrue and increase over time will be impacted while you are unemployed. Other benefits, like healthcare and 401k contributions, are costly to maintain outside of full-time employment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous turmoil and uncertainty for everyone. The economic impact of the current conditions will be long-lasting and some businesses will never recover. The labor market will likely be very different than it has been for the past few years, with more opportunities in some areas and less in others. Decisions made now about work could affect the trajectory of your career for years to come, so the best advice is always to consider all of your options and try to look beyond the present and put yourself if the best possible position for the post-COVID world of work.
Allied is hiring! We work with many essential businesses that need workers to support the fight against COVID. Check out our current openings and apply today!