The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has dominated the headlines and business dialogue for the last month. It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily numbers and constant flood of guidance updates, but it’s also important to maintain hope in the power and innovation of our collective community.
Launchways is proud to announce that one of our clients, LulaFit, is taking an innovative approach to provide services in the age of stay-at-home orders and doing work that we’re truly proud to support them in. We’re so impressed by the work they’re doing that we wanted to share it forward with our extended network of partners, clients, and the community at large to spread the word and offer some inspiration.
This post we’ll explore:
Introduce LulaFit, an innovative and growing Launchways client
Explain how LulaFit is adapting to the challenges of COVID-19
Describe the value of LulaFit’s new LulaFit LIVE program for employers
Discuss how you can connect with LulaFit’s services & keep your team fit—even during social distancing!
LulaFit provides luxury fitness and wellness concierge services to businesses, residential facilities, and individuals in the greater Chicago area. Their customized approach to fitness training and wellness program management builds significant value for their clients when it comes to attracting and retaining great talent or desirable tenants.
If you’re interested in learning more about LulaFit’s commercial, residential, corporate, or individual wellness services, be sure to visit their website!
How is LulaFit Adapting & Providing Support During Coronavirus
Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have closed gyms to the public and made it much tougher to take a fitness class, interact with a trainer, or recreate the positive experience of working out with a group of people keeping each other accountable.
During this challenging time, LulaFit knew they needed to find a way to offer services that allowed people stuck at home to continue their fitness routine to the best of their ability and continue to work with the trainers they knew and trusted.
LulaFit also recognized that much of their wellness program guidance, from healthy shopping and meal prep to structured lifestyle planning, was more relevant than ever for people looking to stay sane, productive, and healthy while under stay-at-home orders.
The result was LulaFit LIVE, a web-based subscription service that contains articles, activities, meditations, lifestyle guides, and a variety of live or on-demand workouts.
LulaFit LIVE: An Exciting Wellness Solution for the Age of Social Distancing
LulaFit LIVE addresses many of the needs individuals in our community have at this time. People can virtually assemble in a group to take a live class together, creating some authentic human interaction and creating that sense of teamwork that fosters physical and mental wellness returns.
To maximize those mental wellness benefits, LulaFit LIVE also contains live competitive trivia and opportunities for socialization after a video class. That means you can invite your friends, neighbors, or colleagues to a fitness class and then enjoy a virtual happy hour from the safety of your individual homes.
This new distancing-friendly approach to presenting their wealth of wellness knowledge means that LulaFit can provide total continuity of service to their existing clients, honoring all their obligations and keeping their team members productively employed during this crucial time.
Launchways Supports LulaFit
LulaFit LIVE is a great example of how innovative thinking and the willingness to adapt can help businesses continue to do their work, even in industries where we’ve historically relied on face-to-face conversations and physical interactions.
What’s really special about LulaFit’s approach is that they created something that is empowering thousands of people around Chicago to continue with some semblance of normalcy during this extremely challenging time of social isolation. That’s the kind of community-first thinking we respect and embody in the way we do business.
How to Learn More
If you’re an employer looking to maintain positive physical and mental wellness for your employees during this tough time, you should consider signing up for LulaFit LIVE!
We’re also proud to announce that thanks to our partnership with LulaFit, if you tell them Launchways sent you, you will get 25% of your first month (one week free) of LulaFit LIVE. We’re truly excited about these services, and we wanted to make sure we were able to make them accessible to the members of our extended network of clients, partners, and community members.
During these unprecedented times, it’s important to keep our eyes and ears open for stories about businesses who are finding new ways to thrive, serve their customers, and keep some sense of normalcy alive until we can all return to our normal ways of working and staying well.
LulaFit is a great example of an organization that adapted and innovated a new way of delivering services that preserves value and maintains that positive spirit of community that comes from collective wellness.
LulaFit is a Chicago-area business that was able to adapt quickly to social distancing and the stay-at-home age thanks to outside-the-box thinking
LulaFit LIVE includes a variety of live and on-demand fitness classes as well as lifestyle guides, wellness articles, newsletters, and other downloadable resources
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them Launchways sent you to claim your special discount!
From supply chain disruptions to shrinking demand, business owners have to contend with a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. But often the most stressful task is protecting employees from exposure while keeping your business running. Fear of an office outbreak is causing plenty of sleepless nights for business and HR leaders alike.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve written a lot about how to protect your employees and your business from the effects of COVID-19. But one issue that we have not covered in detail is what to do when the worst happens and one of your employees tests positive for the highly-contagious virus.
So we’ve created a handy checklist for employers to use to structure their response. The checklist contains all the essential steps for protecting the rest of your team from exposure, looking after the employee’s wellbeing, and managing their transition back to the workplace.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues this checklist will help you tackle:
Working with the Affected Employee
Before you can work with the employee to determine next-steps, you need to identify that they have or are caring for someone with coronavirus. So, it’s important to regularly emphasize how crucial it is that employees who think that they or a loved one has COVID-19 notify you as soon as possible.
Once they do tell you that they have been exposed or infected, you should find out from them who they have worked closely with in the past two weeks. Getting this information can help you prevent a widespread outbreak by putting extra protection measures in place for high-risk employees. Next, you should plan the next steps for the employee by either setting them up to work remotely or helping them file for relief through the Family Medical Leave Act.
Updating the Rest of the Team
No one wants to find out that their company has been hiding the fact that a coworker has COVID-19. It’s important for your employees’ safety and your reputation as an employer that you notify your entire team that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, is thought to have the virus, or is caring for someone with the virus. Just remember to maintain the required amount of confidentiality to protect the affected employee.
Next, reemphasize the importance of following proper procedures in the workplace as it is especially important in the days after an employee has tested positive. Conduct training or share resources to help employees reduce their risk of exposure. And notify any other tenants in your building, if applicable, so that they can manage their response.
Maintaining a Safe Workplace
When it looks like an infected employee may have entered your place of business, be it an office or a manufacturing facility, you have to take immediate action to disinfect the area. While employees should be particularly careful once you notify them of the risk, you still have your own responsibilities to minimize that risk. Clean common areas and the employee’s workspace thoroughly.
Planning the Employee’s Return to Work
Whether the infected employee has been working from home or taking a leave of absence, it’s important to know when it is safe for them to come back to work as normal. The downloadable checklist below lays out different standards depending on whether or not the employee will be tested to confirm that they are no longer contagious. But both cases depend on how long it has been since an employee’s symptoms appeared and how long it has been since they subsided. As a general rule of thumb, they should be asymptomatic for at least three days and have first shown symptoms more than a week ago for it to be safe for them to return to work.
Download the Checklist
We’ve gone over the general best-practices for when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and given you some concrete steps to take. But the checklist will give you an in-depth step-by-step reference to guide on how to handle when one of your employees has COVID-19. Download it for free right now!
Just before midnight Wednesday night, the Senate passed the
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Act creates
further economic protections for individuals and businesses in addition to the
FMLA and paid sick team leave expansions created by the Families
First Coronavirus Response Act.
Generally speaking, CARES strengthens the safety net of
unemployment insurance, offers new tax credits for businesses and individuals,
and creates an emergency lending fund of more than $450 billion for businesses
In this post we’ll explore:
Additional unemployment protections for individuals
The employer-facing tax credits created by CARES
The employee/individual-facing tax credits
created by CARES
How CARES enables emergency lending
Other useful protections under CARES
Unemployment Insurance Expansion Under CARES
The major impact of CARES for the general workforce is the
significant expansion of unemployment insurance (UI). UI benefits are set to
increase $600 per week for up to four months, and federal funds will continue
providing UI to those losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic for up to
13 weeks after state unemployment benefits have been exhausted.
The federal government is also creating incentives to
encourage states to reduce their UI waiting periods so workers can maintain
consistency of income following a layoff and looking to increase accessibility
for the self-employed and others who have historically not qualified for UI.
Tax Credits Under CARES
From a dollars and cents perspective, CARES clarifies and
defines the tax credits that legislators have been promising since the
beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
How to Understand Your Eligibility for CARES Tax Credits
Your eligibility (as an individual or business) for CARES
tax credits depends on your 2019 tax return (or 2018 if you did not file last
year). If you qualify for additional credits due to income/profit loss after
your 2020 tax return, you will receive those as well. If you qualified during
2019 but do not based on 2020 filings, you still qualify.
CARES Tax Credits for Employers
CARES creates a variety of new employer tax benefits,
A 50% refundable payroll tax credit on wages
paid up to $10,000 per employee is available for businesses posting a 50% or
worse return in gross receipts compared to the same quarter of last year
For businesses with more than 100 employees, this
credit applies to all workers on leave who are under your employ but not
For businesses with 100 or fewer employees, this
credit applies to all employees
A delay on employer-side Social Security tax
payments until 1/1/2021
A delay on aviation excise tax payments until
An exclusion of eligible student loan payments
(up to $5,250 per employee) from taxable income calculations
A suspension on the excise tax for alcohol used
to make hand sanitizer for all of tax year 2020
CARES Tax Credits for Individuals/Employees
CARES create a refundable tax credit (the “Recovery Rebate”)
of $1,200 per individual or $2,400 per jointly filing couple plus an additional
$500 credit for each child. Income limits/qualifications for those credits are
Individual/Single taxpayers must have a
taxable income of less than $75,000 to qualify for the full credit and less
than $99,000 to receive any credit
Heads of Household must have a taxable
income of less than $112,500 to qualify
Jointly filing couples must have a
taxable income of less than $150,000 to qualify for the full credit and less
than $198,000 to receive any credit
Access to Emergency Lending
In addition to providing tax credits for businesses affected
by coronavirus, CARES also creates a $454 billion dollar emergency lending fund
for businesses, states, and cities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund
will be overseen by a Congressional Oversight Commission and a Special
The fund includes but is not limited to:
$25 billion allocated for lending to airlines
$17 billion allocated for lending to national
$4 billion allocated for lending to
cargo/shipping/supply chain firms
In order to qualify for these emergency loans, businesses:
Must retain 90% of their March 24, 2020 employee
Must not engage in stock buybacks
during the duration of the loan plus one year
Other CARES Considerations
Payroll Protection for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses
CARES creates a $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program
fund for businesses with fewer than 500 employees struggling to make payroll or
cover operational expenses between February 15 and June 30.
Technically, these funds are granted in the form of loans,
but the loans will be forgiven as long as funds are used for payroll, rent,
interest on mortgages. However, that loan forgiveness will be reduced
proportionately if businesses shrink their workforce or reduce overall employee
compensation 25% or more.
Eliminating Early Withdrawal Penalties for 401(k)s & IRAs
CARES waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty of 401(k)s,
IRAs, and certain qualified trusts and annuities for individual taxpayers
facing virus-related challenges. Withdrawn amounts will be taxed over the next
three years, but individuals can also replenish the withdrawn funds during that
same three-year period without affecting their cap.
This effectively unlocks long-term savings for a large
number of Americans, making up for work reductions, layoffs, and other
challenges facing individuals and families.
The Coronavirus Relief Fund
The CARES Act establishes a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief
Fund for state and city government expenditures related to the coronavirus
epidemic and resulting public health emergency. Funds will be divided based on
population, with each state receiving at least $1.25 billion.
The CARES Act clarifies the federal government’s approach to
economic protections for individuals and businesses during the COVID-19
outbreak, filling in many of the gaps in the language of the FFCRA and other
recent guidance related to coronavirus. Specifically, the Act entails:
$600/week unemployment insurance expansion
Tax credits for lost productivity (for large
businesses) and overall staffing impact (for small businesses)
Tax credits for individuals based on their
income and family size
An emergency lending fund for businesses &
Payroll protections for small businesses
Eliminating retirement withdrawal penalties for
individuals facing virus-based need
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put telemedicine in the
spotlight and directed new resources towards this crucial healthcare
innovation. Over the past few years, telemedicine has gained traction with
forward-thinking growing businesses and benefits brokers as a cost-saving way
for employees to get the medical advice they need – without having to miss work
to do it. However, many businesses and healthcare professionals have treated it
as a handy supplement at best and an unnecessary expense at worst.
But as the nation locks down under quarantine and a trip to
the doctor means potentially exposing yourself and others to the risk of
infection, telemedicine is coming to light as a critical point-of-care option.
Let’s take a look at why employers should leverage
telemedicine to keep their employees healthy and contribute to containment
efforts, explore plus the ins-and-outs of getting employees access to
telehealth during the outbreak, including:
Why COVID-19 makes telemedicine more important
How telemedicine is becoming more accessible due
to the outbreak
How to get your team members the telehealth care
Is More Important Than Ever
There are almost limitless reasons to use telemedicine
during the COVID-19 outbreak. On an individual and societal level, at this
point in time our safety relies upon two things: limiting physical interactions
through social distancing and preventing the healthcare system from getting
overwhelmed. Telemedicine is a powerful tool to facilitate both of these goals.
Quarantine orders and the very real risk of exposure – or
exposing others – mean that seeing a healthcare professional in-person should
be the option of last resort for you and your employees. Your team members
should still get physical assistance if their health condition becomes serious,
but telemedicine can minimize the risk of the disease spreading to or from your
employees. And given the fear of exposure, telemedicine will likely increase
your employees’ access to healthcare in a very real way. People who would
otherwise avoid a doctor’s visit for fear of leaving the house will be able to
get the care they need.
Telemedicine is also quicker and easier for providers
compared to a regular office visit. And it puts a significantly lighter burden
on the healthcare system than an urgent-care or emergency-room visit. That
means that it can limit the amount of strain that employees put on an already
overburdened system, potentially saving lives.
While telemedicine can help employees safely get medical
advice for issues not related to COVID-19, it is especially important for
employees who suspect that they have the virus to use telemedicine as a first
resort. As long as the symptoms are mild, doctors are encouraging
home-treatment akin to mild flu. Unless the case is severe and requires urgent
attention and physical treatment, telemedicine can resolve employees’ fears and
get them the advice they need without causing COVID-19 carriers to go out into
the world and potentially spread the disease. And while it is impossible to
administer a COVID-19 test remotely, the current limited supply and application
of the tests mean that mild cases would not be tested even if employees went to
the hospital or doctor’s office.
Becoming More Accessible
The medical community and government have recognized the
utility of telemedicine in combating the crisis of a rapidly spreading disease
and an overwhelmed healthcare system. The good news for individuals and businesses
alike is that they are increasing access to telemedicine as a result, generally
at reduced or zero cost.
For example, the CMS has expanded Medicare to cover
telemedicine and eliminated all requirements regarding the location of both
patient and provider. They have also loosened restrictions to allow
consultations over platforms such as Skype and FaceTime in addition to formal
platforms. Some states have also similarly expanded their Medicaid coverage.
While these expansions are unlikely to be directly applicable to your employees
if you offer health benefits, it is a strong sign of the general support for
telemedicine. And employers should inform their team members of the expansions
as they may well have parents or loved ones on Medicare or Medicaid.
States are also starting to mandate that private insurance
companies cover telemedicine for all members in the state. Thus far only
Massachusetts has implemented the measure but more states will likely join
Massachusetts as the situation continues to develop.
In the meantime, many if not most major private insurers are
temporarily expanding their telemedicine coverage to address the outbreak.
UnitedHealth and Aetna have both extended telehealth coverage to all members
and waived co-pays, while Humana has followed suit for urgent-care telemedicine
calls. CIGNA has also added the option to make a telemedicine appointment with
a CIGNA doctor through their website at no added cost, which increases care but
does not waive co-pays for standard telemedicine. As of today, Blue Cross Blue
Shield is one of the only major insurers to not expand telemedicine coverage in
light of the outbreak, though they have promised to “encourage the use of
virtual care and will also facilitate member access and use of nurse/provider
How to Leverage
Telemedicine to Get Your Employees The Care They Need
By now, it should be clear that telemedicine isn’t just an
added employee benefit but a true necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. But
as with so many issues related to the outbreak, the situation is constantly
changing in terms of access to care. So how can you ensure that your employees
can take advantage of telemedicine to keep themselves and their communities
safe and healthy?
The first thing you should do is to talk to your benefits broker
and your insurance provider to evaluate your current telemedicine coverage. You
should also ask about any changes that they may have made in light of the
current COVID-19 situation. And if your employees aren’t covered, lobby your
insurance company to expand their telemedicine coverage and consider shelling out
for additional telemedicine coverage, at least temporarily. Also consider the
fact that a prescription delivery option makes it easier for employees to
follow-up on their telemedicine visit to get the treatment they need without
added risk of exposure.
You might also consider making these changes permanent
additions to your employee benefits, if they aren’t already. Telemedicine is an
effective way to reduce healthcare expenses and health-related absenteeism even
when there isn’t an ongoing health crisis.
During this unprecedented health crisis, it can be hard to tell what you should do to protect yourself, your employees, and your business. Telemedicine is emerging as one method that is certain to improve the situation. Talk to your employee benefits broker today to see how you can leverage telemedicine to address the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the last few weeks, the global economy has felt the pinch
of coronavirus in a major way. The stock market has been dangerously volatile,
and the federal government has announced a multi-trillion-dollar bailout.
While the media focus has been primarily on the economic
impact for large corporations and mom n’ pop shops such as small retailers and
restaurants, some of the biggest pain is being felt right in the middle of
those two worlds – among early stage or growing businesses who were just
getting their feet under them when the COVID-19 outbreak began.
For business, finance, and HR leaders at VC-backed startups
or boutique companies that started small and bootstrapped up to business
relevance, this is without question a time of tremendous uncertainty. Moving
forward, we’ll explore:
Some of the biggest challenges facing growing or
early-stage businesses right now
Ways growing businesses can address, manage, or
outsource these challenges to preserve core function and the ability to keep
the work going
How COVID-19 is Creating Challenges for Growing Businesses
During this time, it’s crucial to fully dedicate yourself to
protecting your team as individual employees while also protecting the health
of your business overall. That requires recognizing each individual challenge
and addressing it effectively.
Here are some of the most complex, relevant problems that
the leadership team at any growing business must address to weather this storm:
Increased Impact of Each Illness or Leave
Growing businesses operate with lean teams out of necessity.
That means each professional manages more individual responsibilities and has a
greater impact on overall business function than they would in a corporate
That model works well when you’ve built a great team and
everybody is healthy and engaged, but in a scenario like the COVID-19 outbreak,
in which employees may need to take weeks off at a time due to severe illness,
it is without question an area of weakness.
an effective coronavirus response plan at the early-stage or growing
business level requires creating a comprehensive strategy for how you’ll plug
holes, rotate responsibilities, and maintain the quality and consistency of
your core function.
Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick time at
their normal rate for employees who are sick with, experiencing symptoms of, or
awaiting a diagnosis for COVID-19
Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick time at
2/3 their normal rate for employees who are caring for someone with COVID-19 or
providing childcare for minors whose schools or normal daycare facilities are
closed due to COVID-19
That means a lot of growth-stage or medium-sized businesses
will need to pay employees for significant time during which they are minimally
productive. Tax credits to cover these increased expenses have been announced, but
that does little to help smaller organizations who may experience short-term
cashflow or liquidity issues during this pandemic.
In the short term, you need to be ready for employees to go
on leave (as we mentioned above), but you also need to gather your core finance
team and figure out how you’ll provide the leave your team members need while
protecting your business’ ability to maintain operations in a way that keeps
Exposing Lack of HR Scaffolding
Most growth-stage businesses do not have an internal asset
dedicated to the Human Resources function. In fact, many early-stage companies
have their CEO or CFO also managing CHRO responsibilities.
That system can work well under normal circumstances, but it
certainly wasn’t designed to manage a time like this, when HR communication,
employee benefits education/accessibility, and leave request processing are so
That means you need to protect, strengthen, and expand your
core HR function and resources to ensure you’re able to address and meet all
employee needs during this time. Make no mistake: HR is a critical function
within each individual organization working to combat COVID-19. The better your
HR function (whether internal or outsourced) is able to understand and address
employee health needs in a timely fashion, the stronger and more informed your COVID-19
response can be.
How You Can Get the Outside Support You Need
As we’ve uncovered, there are a variety of areas in which
the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting new and growing businesses harder than nearly
anybody else in the business space. We’ve also seen that most of those
challenges are directly connected to business function and require extensive
leadership planning and attention in ways that can be quite intimidating to
lean teams with little or no HR bandwidth.
If you’re in one of those leadership positions, things can
feel pretty discouraging right now, but the good news is there are resources
you can tap into to get the answers you need, shore up your business, and
maintain the productivity of your healthy team.
Start Working with a Trusted HR Partner
Growing businesses with internal HR resources typically have
highly functional HR leaders who specialize in wearing a variety of hats and working
around the clock to get things done. In these types of organizations, one or
two people frequently do the job of what would be a fifteen-plus person team in
the corporate world.
However, no matter how great they are at their jobs, those professionals
need support right now. They need an extra sets of eyes over their work to
ensure they’re complying with the latest guidance. They need HR technology that
makes it easier and faster to view and process employee requests. They need the
human support that makes them feel confident that if they become sick or need
to leave work to care for a family member who is ill, they won’t be abandoning
their employer to fall apart.
The best way to connect with that support quickly is by
contacting an HR consultancy or management firm. They can step in to provide
leaders and employees with the latest guidance and educational materials,
provide a fresh perspective to enable best practices for human capital
management, and pick up the slack on day-to-day HR tasks, empowering your core
team to focus on leadership and taking the pressure off those key stakeholders
to stay healthy and stay at work.
Connect with Proven Leadership Coaching
Many departmental and overall leaders in start-ups and
early-stage companies skew younger. That’s part of what makes the start-up
scene so vibrant and energetic. What young leaders don’t always have, however,
is vast experience – and they’ve certainly never seen anything like this
That’s why it can be so valuable to reach out to veteran
business leaders who’ve moved into consultancy. Their perspective can provide
valuable emergency response management strategy, both in terms of short-term
communication/leadership and planning long-term ways to emerge from this ordeal
stronger and better than ever.
They say that two heads are better than one, so when it
comes to tackling one of the biggest, most complex business challenges of our
time, why wouldn’t you reach out to someone who has navigated an entire career
of workforce challenges and complexities?
Launchways is Here to Help!
Based in Chicago, Launchways is the Midwest’s most
forward-thinking provider of human resources support and employee benefits
brokerage. We have 10+ years of expertise in the fields of employee benefits,
business insurance, payroll, human resources, compliance, and more, and we’ve
always taken great pride in the work we do both locally within the Chicago startup
During this time of incredible need and uncertainty, we’ve
been doing what we can to keep our clients, partners, and community business
allies up to date on the latest information about COVID-19 and connected with
the most impactful possible pandemic management strategies. We’re pretty proud
of the resources we’ve created, including…
If you’re a growing or early-stage business feeling the pinch of the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Launchways today to see what we can do to strengthen your HR function and empower your leadership in difference-making ways.