At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses found themselves dealing with extraordinary challenges that threatened their existence. Tensions were rising for business owners because they were unsure what to do or truly what was going on. The sudden and widespread nature of the crisis disrupted supply chains, leading to shortages of essential goods and services. As governments imposed strict lockdown measures to reduce the virus’s spread, countless businesses faced closures, leaving many entrepreneurs uncertain about the future of their businesses.

Initially, the public was advised by the government that a two-week lockdown would be enough to stop the spread of COVID-19; however, if your business was considered essential then employees were allowed to travel to and from work only. Unfortunately, the definition of an essential business from the government was vague. The quick shift to remote work presented hurdles, as companies scrambled to adapt to new technologies and workflows while ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees. This chaotic period posed a significant challenge for employers worldwide.

UniqueHR continued to provide HR services during the pandemic, helping our clients navigate complex employment laws, manage payroll, and handle employee-related issues. This support was crucial as businesses faced new challenges related to remote work, safety protocols, and workforce management. Because UniqueHR offered employee benefits, including health insurance and retirement plans, our clients were able to retain employees during times of uncertainty. UniqueHR helped our clients stay compliant with changing regulations, which was particularly important during the pandemic when new rules and guidelines were frequently introduced. UniqueHR assisted with risk management, helping businesses navigate legal and regulatory challenges associated with the pandemic. This included guidance on issues like remote work policies, health and safety protocols, and compliance with COVID-19-related regulations.

During this challenging time UniqueHR became an ally and pillar of support, providing guidance and assistance to our client businesses, all while navigating our own internal business struggles. We were also unsure which staff was allowed to work from the office and which staff needed to work from home. When there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in our office, we sent our staff to work from home in order stop the spread. We even purchased a spray gun to sanitize each office on a regular basis. In 2021, we cancelled our 30-year business anniversary celebration due to an increase in COVID-19 cases around that time. Thankfully we were still able to work efficiently and effectively for our clients during these trying times. Our staff was able to implement IT protocols overnight, phone systems were transferred, and our disaster recovery plan was tested and applied quickly.

Paycheck Protection Program PPP page of The U.S. Small Business Administration website on a phone. PPP loan helps businesses keep their workforce employed – San Jose, California, USA – 2021

UniqueHR received some guidance from our trade association as well as regulations coming from Washington DC. Because of this, UniqueHR received knowledge prior to the general public, and we were able to pass along this information on to our customers. Our trade association presented us with information regarding the PPP loans that would become available to small qualifying businesses, and we were able to assist our clients with submitting their applications slightly before other businesses. UniqueHR was able to guide our clients and be a filter of information for them.

UniqueHR too applied for the PPP loan to ensure our internal employees could keep their jobs, even though we pride ourselves on being a debt free business. We treat our staff like family, and we understand that our business decisions not only affect our 80 or so internal employees but their families as well. Our client families are an extension of our Unique family, so doing everything we could to safeguard and aid our client businesses was of the utmost importance.

At this time, a major dichotomy existed between the government wanting to help small businesses, while also announcing if applications were inaccurate or completed incorrectly, businesses could face major trouble up to and including imprisonment. This was a very confusing time for the American people and their businesses. Another conflicting message from the government was not what the public needed at this time.

UniqueHR continued to provide our clients with weekly reports to determine payroll costs applicable to the PPP loan forgiveness process. We gladly held their hands every step of the way. Additionally, we provided them with resources to assess their forgiveness eligibility and requirements.

The economic fallout was abrupt and severe, with mass layoffs and furloughs becoming common. Small businesses, in particular, were hit hard, lacking the financial resilience of larger corporations. Many struggled to cover fixed costs such as rent, utilities, and payroll, prompting fears of widespread closures. Consumer spending decreased, and industries like hospitality, travel, and retail experienced extraordinary declines. The struggle to navigate government regulations, access financial assistance, and adapt to the quickly changing business conditions added layers of difficulty to an already challenging scenario.

UniqueHR’s client companies benefit from partnering with us in several ways. For instance, businesses who partner with PEO’s have a higher chance of survival, higher growth rate, lower employee turnover, higher employee satisfaction, and they fared better during the COVID-19 pandemic. The PEO industry continued to grow in 2018 and 2019. While the COVID-19 pandemic stopped PEO growth rate for 2020, as an industry it essentially held steady during the year. This is a positive finding in the context of overall U.S. employment, which fell by 6% in the same time period. Our commitment to our clients’ success is unwavering, prioritizing their needs regardless of the size of their business. UniqueHR’s dedicated staff are passionate about their work and consistently provide prompt and helpful assistance to our clients through phone calls, emails, and in person visits. Our support during challenging times like the pandemic has solidified UniqueHR’s reputation as a dependable, reliable, and trusted PEO partner.