COVID-19 Manager Memo #2

To help you lead your departments through the difficult and pressing circumstances related to the impact of COVID-19, please review these important manager messages and share with other managers in your areas. The manager memos, along with resources are posted on the HR web page, Manager Resources for COVID-19.

Faculty and staff are incredibly valuable to our mission. Right now, our employees need our support and leadership more than ever. We have a responsibility as an institution and academic medical center to be models for the greater community, and to take care of ourselves and others. I hope that all of you prioritize the well-being of people and adapt to the situation we are all in together. These regular updates to management
 provide guidance on key issues related to supporting staff and operations, recognizing that circumstances continue to evolve.

Today’s Manager Memo focuses on:

  • Status of job postings and offers
  • Reassignment of non-clinical staff 
  • On-boarding new hires who have already accepted offers

Status of job postings and offers:

As announced in the Chancellor’s message, the university is instituting a hiring freeze for Danforth and Central Fiscal Unit (CFU) positions. Starting today, there should be no future offers of external employment or internal transfers made. HR’s Recruitment team is managing the process by which exception requests are submitted to the provost and the executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer. HR will contact Danforth and CFU departments with current job postings in HRMS regarding next steps.  View the Danforth and CFU interim policy along with details on how limited hiring exceptions will be handled.

The School of Medicine will have its own policy regarding job postings and will share those details later in the week. Human Resources will communicate with Medical School business offices to review open postings and the exception process.

Departments seeking an exception to the hiring freeze are encouraged to consider whether re-assigning current employees is a suitable solution. HR has adapted its recruitment efforts to help support the university through this unique work environment and hiring freeze. We have developed a staff reassignment strategy to help departments in need of extra staff support. We have had early successes working with departments to match and reassign staff to areas in need, keeping staff engaged and productive.

The staff reassignment strategy is as follows:

  • If you have non-clinical staff for whom you cannot assign meaningful work remotely or have no ideas for professional development or project work, contact HR Recruitment at Recruiters will work to connect employees who are available to help with areas at the university that need more help.
  • An employee may be reassigned to another area that needs help. During this time, the employee’s pay, title and department remains the same. The employee will be accountable to the reassigned department for training, schedule, performance and work assigned.
  • These reassignments are viewed as temporary in nature and can be ended at any time.

As we adapt to alternate operations and the difficult challenges we’re facing, our ability to be flexible and lead through rapid changes will help us stand strong. Remote work has shifted the way we operate. It is important to think creatively to assign meaningful work and to be thoughtful about special project work and professional development to help our staff stay productive and engaged. More details will be communicated this week regarding HR Learning and Development online learning opportunities. 

Virtual On-boarding and New I-9 Verification Process:

For any new employees who have already accepted offers as of today, March 30, we have made arrangements to facilitate safe hiring practices during this pandemic situation, and to maintain compliance with existing regulations governing employment.

Key on-boarding process changes include:

  • Virtual on-boarding with new I-9 process
  • New Employee Health Assessment requirement
  • Virtual New Employee Orientation conducted via Zoom

View a step-by-step process for new hires. These practices apply to new hires with hire dates after March 30.

Important I-9 Update:As announced by the Federal Department of Homeland Security on Friday, March 20, 2020, the University will defer the physical presentation of Form I-9 documents (section 2 documents) by new employees until further notice. This means that HR will review documents virtually and ask new employees to provide copies of the documents to HR for record keeping purposes. This revised process will only be in effect until the normal operations are resumed. View complete details on the adjusted I-9 process, including details on the Visa process.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and resilience. Look for more employee well-being resources including wellness, healthcare benefits, financial well-being and mental health support. We will be sharing mindfulness Zoom sessions, online fitness and other ways to connect, take care of ourselves and loved ones, and be resilient through these challenges.  

Legail Poole Chandler
Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
Washington University in St. Louis