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July 2020

Young entrepreneur working from home selling his products online.

Supporting Entrepreneurship in a Global Pandemic

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History has shown the incredible part crises play in developing our communities. For example, health crises evolve healthcare structures, wars propel technology revolutions, and financial crises assist industry-specific companies. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is no different.

If we have learned anything from the current COVID-19 situation, it is the swift adaptability and resilience businesses across the world have had to endure. In doing so, entrepreneurship has seen an uptick as a result. Whether businesses have permanently closed their doors or employees have been laid off or terminated, the opportunity to build something new from the ground up has been trending post-COVID-19.

Impact of COVID-19

Industries were impacted differently by the effects of COVID-19. For example, nonessential businesses like movie theaters, restaurants, and tourism services have ceased. Other industries, such as manufacturing and services (i.e., car washing) have slowed. These business hardships are likely due to decrease in consumer demands, inability to visit business, and/or lack of funds for nonessential items.

The Future of Businesses

While some industries have suffered minimal impacts to permanent closures, other industries are making the most of the crisis by adapting their goods and services to the consumer demands. For example, fashion businesses like Zara and H&M produced protective gear, such as face masks, gowns, and other supplies for hospitals. Distilleries have produced hand sanitizers. Healthcare companies and automotive suppliers have diligently increased production and supplies to deliver life-saving medical devices to assist hospitals with shortages.

Looking to the future, businesses can recognize two important lessons from crises:

  1. Crises highlight opportunities for businesses to improve. In the face of a crisis, business leaders are forced to utilize creative problem-solving methods and rediscover their entrepreneurism. Some business leaders will pursue innovation, such as the industries utilizing already-existing goods and services that may be repurposed to serve the local communities. Others may look to new technology or innovative business solutions to interface with their traditional business model foundation to adapt to the crisis at hand.
  2. Crises oftentimes reshape a brand – for better or for worse is solely dependent on the business. Reputations can be strengthened – or lost – in a crisis. Companies that showcase innovation, supporting the local communities, and work in the best interest of their employees and consumers will likely strengthen their reputation and experience a more positive reaction once normalcy is re-established again. Other companies may mishandle employees or customers when faced with crisis. This oftentimes leads to opportunities for competitors to gain business and lead to a more negative response post-crisis.

A PEO like Harbor America can provide integral resources and services not available or limited with your current business operations, such as COVID-19 Resources. Partnering with a PEO can better position your business in time of crisis. Contact Harbor America today to see how we can prepare you for continued success during future crises.



The Coronavirus Crisis: A Catalyst for Entrepreneurship

Group of diverse factory workers all wearing protective mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Best Practices for Workplace Safety in Blue Collar Industries

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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has instilled global fear, especially in the workplace. For those working office jobs, it can be daunting to be in close quarters with others. But how has COVID-19 impacted workers in manual labor industries, such as trucking, warehouse, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction?

While they may not be frontline workers, their work is integral to other industries’ operations. For example, manufacturers might make boxes for supplies, such as food and medicine. Other manufacturers create parts for aircraft carriers and submarines. Construction workers might work on roads or new buildings that help the economy flourish. Agriculture workers provide food supplies. Implementing safe work environment policies and procedures can enhance the defense against COVID-19 in the workplace.

Here are a few best practices for workplace safety.

Stagger start times to reduce contact. Modifying start times to reduce contact with other employees can assist in decreasing exposure. Have employees wait in their vehicles before a shift instead of congesting the time clock area. Remaining at a specific workstation unless needed elsewhere can also reduce traffic through the workplace.

Practice personal hygiene. It might seem like stating the obvious but practicing proper handwashing and other healthy hygienic routines can help prevent the spread of illness in the workplace. Some employees may change clothes or shower, if the option is available, before leaving the workplace to decrease the chances of bringing any exposure risk to their homes.

Utilizing and proper handling of personal protective equipment (PPE). Wearing a mask is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of illness. Ensuring the mask is worn properly also increases the chances of not spreading illness. Wiping down equipment after each use and implementing regular cleaning of PPE (i.e., washing cloth face masks) will aid in decreasing the exposure of illness.

Incorporating formal company policies regarding these best practices can assist in enforcing them in the workplace. If you don’t have these policies and procedures already in place or would like to have an HR professional review your employee handbook for improvements, please contact Harbor America. Our safety and risk management team can also evaluate and mitigate workplace risks, as well as provide resources and support for implementing solutions for your business. Whatever you may need, Harbor America is your select PEO partner in developing a safer work environment.



How COVID-19 Showed America’s Dependence on Blue-Collar Workers

Creating a Culturally Competent and Inclusive Workplace

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Effectively developing and incorporating diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been a long-standing challenge businesses face. The greatest obstacle has been obtaining business tools and initiatives to combat biases and promoting respect, appreciation, and recognition of employees. While companies have made great strides, such as incorporating meditation or prayer rooms, nursing rooms for new mothers, gender-neutral bathrooms, and celebrating all religious and cultural holidays, it also opens the door to feedback and gateways to improving existing policies and procedures.

Here are some tips for creating a culturally competent and inclusive workplace.

Fostering Meaningful Connections

The first step in becoming culturally competent and inclusive is understanding unconscious bias and group thinks. Unconscious bias is prejudice or judgment of a person or group based on an individual’s past experiences and background.[1] Groupthink is a group of individuals making irrational choices based on the ideation of conformity or inability to think for one’s self.[2] Unconscious bias and group thinks can cause strains on building meaningful connections between employees. Leaders should encourage and recognize different perspectives and highlight the positive experiences people of different backgrounds, faiths, and identities can bring to the organization.

Addressing Real-Time Recognition Practices

First and foremost, there should be a formal process for expressing gratitude to your employees. For example, creating a tracking system to mitigate unconscious bias. It can aid in promoting appreciation companywide, but also present data to leaders regarding which employees are being consistently recognized and which ones are not. Through measurement and analysis of such data, employers can hold themselves accountable for initiating changes in recognition practices if needed.

Another way to combat unconscious bias and overlooked employees is removing the hierarchy from performance reviews. Rather than looking to managers and higher-up leaders to provide recognition, encouraging peer-to-peer recognition can establish a positive workplace where all voices are heard and appreciated. This can also help deter unconscious bias and ensure all individuals feel included and promoted.

Ongoing Training, Education, and Resources

Sensitivity training is an integral component of creating a more inclusive workplace and establishing cultural competence. However, most businesses invest in a one-time training and expect cultural issues to dissolve. As society changes and adapts to different cultural atmospheres, it is imperative for business owners to shift with them. To do so, investing in ongoing training, education, and resources can ensure you and your staff stay up to date on the latest HR and cultural trends. It’s likely that the 2018 Starbucks incident in Philadelphia and George Floyd incident will not be the last of their kind to occur. Be proactive in problem solving and decision-making by researching and incorporating a variety of sensitivity trainings, education, and resources.

Harbor America, with its Vensure partners, recently hosted a series of webinars that focused on sensitivity in the workplace. Our third webinar, “Becoming Culturally Competent” discussed cultural issues in the workplace, best practices to address them, and ways to prevent it. To learn more about how Harbor America can guarantee your employee handbook is up to date and your company policies and procedures remain compliant, contact us today. We have industry-leading human resource management services and specialists who can assist with locating resources, recommending trainings, and provide excellent customer service support to guide you along the way.



How to Create a More Inclusive Workplace Culture


[1] Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Unconscious Bias

[2] Psychology Today: Groupthink