Portal Opens for Second Round of PPP Loans

Portal Opens for Second Round of PPP Loans

Portal Opens for Second Round of PPP Loans

The U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have announced that beginning Monday, Jan. 11, applications will be accepted for the second round of PPP loans in the SBA’s Payment Protection Program (PPP). This second round includes $284 billion in funding that was allocated for the PPP in the stimulus bill passed on Dec. 27, 2020. This round of funding will run through March 31, 2021.

The second round of PPP loans provides eligibility to new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. As eligibility opens up, small businesses and lenders should prepare to adhere to the new requirements detailed below. 

Second Round of PPP Loans

Second Round of PPP Loans Application Schedule

Monday, Jan. 11, marks the opening of the portal. Initially, the portal will only be open to borrowers applying for their first PPP loan (known as “First Draw PPP Loans”) through “community financial institutions.” These “community financial institutions” are lenders that serve minority, underserved, veteran and women-owned businesses.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, borrowers applying for a second PPP Loan (known as “Second Draw PPP Loans”) also become eligible. Again, the SBA will only accept applications from lenders designated a “community financial institution.”

The PPP will open to all participating lenders “shortly thereafter,” according to the announcement. The SBA has yet to announce a specific date.

Second Round of PPP Loans

Information About the Second Round of PPP Loans

For the most part, the rules for this round are very similar to the initial round of PPP loans. However, there are updates to the first round of funding. According to the Treasury, key PPP updates include:

  • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between eight and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs;
  • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures;
  • The program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives and direct marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
  • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount; and
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
  • Has no more than 300 employees; and
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

For more specifics about the second round of PPP funding, the SBA has provided additional details.

What’s Next?

Borrowers should review the criteria for this second round of PPP loans. Borrowers considering applying should prepare and have on hand all relevant documentation. Lastly, borrowers should direct any questions regarding PPP loans to their lender.

We will continue to monitor any additional developments regarding the PPP and deliver updates as necessary. For more information about the PPP, contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!

Signs You May Need to Replace Your Cloth Face Mask

Signs You May Need to Replace Your Cloth Face Mask

Signs You May Need to Replace Your Cloth Face Mask

Wearing a cloth face mask or covering when you’re out in public is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). How do you know when it’s time to replace your cloth face mask?

While many Americans are following CDC, state and local guidance for wearing cloth face masks when they’re out in public, some may be wondering whether the masks they wear are still as effective. In addition, many may be forgetting to wash their mask after each use.

Knowing When It’s Time to Replace Your Cloth Face Mask or Covering

According to Christopher Sulmonte, the project administrator for the Biocontainment Unit at John Hopkins Medical, there’s not an exact timeline for how long you can use a cloth face mask before it needs to be replaced. The original quality of the mask and the harshness of your washing machine play large roles in how quickly your mask may deteriorate.

To see if your mask needs to be replaced, you can:

  • Hold your mask up to a light to check for visible fading or spots that you can see through.
  • Inspect your mask for any holes.
  • Check the fit of your mask to make sure it still fits snugly over your nose and mouth.

If your mask has visible fading, holes or see-through spots, or fits loosely, it’s time to replace your mask.

In addition, if you live in an area with colder weather, you can go outside with your mask on to see how far your breath travels through your mask. If your breath travels more than an inch through your mask, it’s time to replace your mask.

Tips for Cleaning Your Cloth Face Mask or Covering

According to the CDC, you should wash your cloth face mask or covering after each wear. As such, it’s recommended that you have more than one mask to have a safe mask to wear each day.

The CDC explains there are two methods for washing your masks:

  • Using a washing machine—You can include your mask(s) with your regular laundry and detergent.
  • Washing by hand—You can wash your mask(s) by hand, too. To do so, put your mask(s) in a bowl or bin. Use tap water, and detergent or soap to wash the mask, rinsing thoroughly to remove detergent or soap.

The CDC also states that you can use your dryer or air dry your mask(s). However, be sure to check the fabric tags of your mask(s) before using the dryer. In some cases, to preserve the fit and fabric of your masks, you may need to air dry them.

Remember, wearing a mask can help you protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic. 

Replace Your Cloth Face Mask

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive insurance quote!

Supporting Employees During a Potentially Lonely Holiday Season

Supporting Employees During a Potentially Lonely Holiday Season

Supporting Employees During a Potentially Lonely Holiday Season

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of daily life—including how employees celebrate for the holidays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged all Americans to avoid gathering and traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, and these sentiments will likely apply to future holiday celebrations as well. This may include—but is not limited to—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve, making this a potentially lonely holiday season.

Although following the CDC’s advice is essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19, canceling trips and holiday plans can make for a lonely holiday season for many employees. This article discusses ways to support employees during this unprecedented holiday season.

lonely holiday season

Employee Mental Health and Lonely Holiday Season

The holiday season is traditionally a stressful one for employees in general, but employees will likely be more stressed out this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and having to cancel holiday plans.

After almost a full year of disruption and uncertainty, many employees have experienced stress and disappointment, which could be negatively affecting their overall health. A report from Limeade, an employee experience software company, found that:

  • Forty-nine percent of employees have less energy to participate in non-work-related activities.
  • Forty-two percent of employees have trouble sleeping.
  • Forty-two percent of employees are less interested in socializing with friends.

In addition, about one-third of employees reported consuming more alcohol or using other substances more than usual to cope with their stress. These unhealthy coping mechanisms could affect employees’ personal and professional lives, which makes it all the more important to support them.

An employer’s role is to support employees—including their mental health and well-being. That support is even more important during a global pandemic and an unprecedented holiday season, as employees may be struggling to cope with the uncertainty.

lonely holiday season

Best Practices for Supporting Employees During a Lonely Holiday Season

How you choose to support employees during this stressful and potentially lonely holiday season depends upon your organization’s values, culture and budget. However, there are a handful of low- to no-cost ways you can provide support. This includes the following best practices:

  • Connect with employees. Intentionally check in with direct reports on a regular basis and simply ask, “Are you OK?” The best way to help employees is to start by asking how they are doing. Employees may choose not to engage, and that’s fine too, but it’s important to approach that conversation. Additionally, consider asking what kind of support would be helpful to your employees, and reinforce that the door is open if and when they’d like to talk.
  • Model healthy behaviors. To be a good example to other employees, prioritize self-care and set boundaries. Be vocal and open about what you’re doing to take care of yourself and avoid burnout.
  • Be vulnerable. To help decrease the stigma of mental health challenges, be transparent about personal struggles or experiences. Doing so can help other employees feel comfortable talking about how they’re truly doing during the pandemic and this holiday season.
  • Host a virtual holiday event. If your budget and workload allow, consider hosting a virtual holiday event. By offering a safe way to celebrate the holidays, you may help employees combat feelings of loneliness or disappointment if they have to cancel their own personal holiday plans. Some simple virtual holiday celebration ideas include:
  • Virtual mixers designed for multiple conversations to take place at once, rather than one big video conference
    • Ugly sweater contests
    • Holiday karaoke events
    • Gingerbread house building and decorating activities
    • Wine and cheese parties
    • Online escape rooms
    • Trivia contests
    • Virtual gift exchanges
  • Communicate regularly. Help remove unnecessary stress by setting expectations about workloads and clarifying any modified work hours and norms. Strive for weekly communications from the organization to inform employees about company news and updated policies related to the pandemic.
  • Highlight available resources. Last but not least, it’s important to make employees aware of available mental health resources and encourage them to use such offerings. The most commonly desired workplace features are an open and accepting culture, clearer information about where to go or who to ask for support, and training to help managers have productive behavioral health conversations.

Remember, everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to remain sensitive to the fact that some employees may be carrying on as usual during these times, while others may be struggling. Avoid calling out specific employees and make sure to keep any conversations about an employee’s mental health or stressors confidential.

Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt employees’ lives across the country, creating additional stress, worry and disappointment for many. Supporting employees during difficult times such as these has never been more important.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate! We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive insurance quote!

COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace

COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace

COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace

OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers and workplaces during these
unprecedented times. The agency will be issuing a series of alerts designed to keep workers safe.
Ensuring adequate ventilation in the workplace can help to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Employers should work with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to consider steps to optimize building ventilation. An HVAC professional can ensure that the ventilation system is operating as intended.

ventilation in the workplace

The following tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus:

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Ensure all HVAC systems and ventilation in the workplace are fully functional, especially those shut down or operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic.
  • Remove or redirect personal fans to prevent blowing air from one worker to another.
  • Use HVAC system filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher,
    where feasible.
  • Increase the HVAC system’s outdoor air intake. Open windows or other sources of fresh air where possible.
    Be sure exhaust air is not pulled back into the building from HVAC air intakes or open windows.
  • Consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to increase clean air,
    especially in higher-risk areas.
  • When changing filters, wear appropriate personal protective equipment. ASHRAE recommends N95
    respirators, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shields), and disposable gloves.
  • Make sure exhaust fans in restrooms are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and are set to
    remain on.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

GDI Insurance Agency, inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!

California Governor Issues Regional Stay-at-Home Order

California Governor Issues Regional Stay-at-Home Order

California Governor Issues Regional Stay-at-Home Order

On Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a limited regional stay-at-home order for certain areas in California where COVID-19 cases are straining hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs). This announcement comes one day after California reported approximately 8,208 COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

Under this order, California will be split into five regions—Southern California, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley, Greater Sacramento and the Bay Area. A three-week stay-at-home order will be triggered in a region if the remaining ICU capacity within that region falls below 15%.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, the California Department of Public Health said that a stay-at-home order was triggered in the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions. The orders took effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, and will last for at least three weeks. At this time, stay-at-home orders have not been triggered in the other three regions.

Regional Stay-At-Home Order

What businesses will be required to close?

If a three-week stay-at-home order is triggered, bars, wineries, hair salons, barbershops and personal services (e.g., nail salons and tattoo parlors) would be required to temporarily close. Restaurants would not be allowed to be open for dining in, but would be allowed to offer takeout and delivery. Additionally, retail stores would be allowed to operate at a 20% capacity.

What businesses will be allowed to remain open?

Critical infrastructure and schools that meet the state’s health requirements will be allowed to remain open during a three-week stay-at-home order.

“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed. If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.”

– Gov. Newsom

What activities are permitted during a stay-at-home order?

Under a stay-at-home order, Californians are permitted to go outside to exercise or get some fresh air, as long as social distancing measures can be observed. However, nonessential trips to the store should be avoided and gatherings with those who do not live in their household are prohibited.

What’s next?

California residents should monitor the news for the latest developments within their region and continue to follow the guidelines imposed by their county, which may include observing a 10 p.m. curfew. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive insurance quote!

Virtual Workplace Holiday Parties

Virtual Workplace Holiday Parties

Virtual Workplace Holiday Parties

At the end of the calendar year, workplace holiday parties are an experience that many employees look forward to as a highlight of the season. These celebrations are often a long-standing tradition allowing employees to celebrate with their colleagues—and sometimes family and guests.

However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are evaluating how to engage employees safely this holiday season. Employers find themselves tasked with deciding whether they should cancel, postpone or offer an amended celebration that prioritizes safety—with many choosing to offer a virtual holiday party.

Virtual holiday parties can help increase employee engagement—but also come with a set of challenges. In addition to concerns regarding the coronavirus, holiday events can carry a financial cost and create risks for organizations if employees participate in inappropriate behaviors. This article gives an overview of virtual holiday parties and offers ideas and considerations for employers planning a virtual celebration.

workplace holiday parties

The State of Workplace Holiday Parties During the Coronavirus

According to firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. who conducts annual workplace holiday party surveys, most employers are either canceling their party altogether or hosting it virtually this holiday season. Their annual survey found that:

  • Twenty-three percent of organizations plan to host a year-end celebration in 2020, down from 76% in 2019.
  • Forty-four percent of organizations canceling holiday parties this year cite COVID-19 as the reason for canceling.
  • Seventy-four percent of those planning to offer a holiday party are doing so virtually.

These findings show that, while holiday parties are generally popular, employers are adapting to address current realities. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to offering a year-end celebration during the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers have a variety of options to engage their employees safely.

workplace holiday parties

Considerations for Offering Workplace Virtual Holiday Parties

Holiday parties can impact employees in a variety of ways. Specifically, these events can boost:

  • Team chemistry and camaraderie
  • Employee motivation
  • Employee engagement

Additionally, holiday parties can give employees a break from the standard workday and even serve as an informal meeting to discuss next year’s goals and instill company values.

How an organization chooses to celebrate varies by workplace, but employers considering a virtual event may find that many of the shared experiences of a year-end celebration can take place in a remote environment.

workplace holiday parties

Planning Workplace Virtual Holiday Parties

A virtual environment won’t always fully replicate the in-person experience that many employees have come to expect for celebrations. Despite this, with careful planning, employers can still plan a virtual event that satisfies employees. Similar to when planning an in-person celebration, there are steps employers will want to take, which include:

  • Establishing a budget for the event
  • Creating the event’s guest list, which may include:
  • All employees
    • A specific team, department or location
    • In some cases, family members or guests
  • Establishing and communicating expectations for employees, including appropriate behaviors and other related policies
  • Planning, promoting and hosting the event

Factors such as a budget and how you intend to engage employees may influence what type of celebration makes sense for your organization. Holiday celebrations often involve a variety of activities, and the good news is that many of these can be offered virtually via online platforms or video chat. Examples of virtual holiday celebrations include:

  • Virtual mixers designed for multiple conversations to take place at once, rather than one big video conference
  • Ugly sweater contest
  • Holiday karaoke
  • Gingerbread house building and decorating
  • Wine and cheese party
  • Online escape room
  • Trivia contest
  • Virtual gift exchange

These are some ideas for employers to consider and may require some advance planning. For example, in some cases, employers may choose to provide party supplies for the employee, which would require gathering and shipping those items to each employees’ home before the celebration. Or, employers may need to prepare a list of trivia questions or instructions for guided activities, such as the online escape room.

When it comes to planning for virtual holiday events, employers can consider planning the activity internally or using providers or vendors that specialize in event planning.

Alternative Methods for Recognizing Employees

Generally, holiday parties carry a cost, and diverting funds to throwing a celebration may not be an option, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although employees may be disappointed due to not being able to participate in a holiday party, employers can lift their spirits in other ways.

Many employees may appreciate a gift or form of recognition as a replacement for their prized holiday party. Alternative methods for recognizing employees can include:

  • Giving employees a holiday gift
  • Sponsoring employees to make a charitable gift
  • Recognizing each employee for their individual contributions

As many organizations encounter financial restraints, holiday celebrations are not a requirement by any means. However, it’s important to consider showing appreciation for employees in some way to boost engagement and morale.

Virtual Holiday Party Best Practices

Workplace holiday parties can present a host of liabilities for organizations each year. While virtual celebrations won’t take place at a physical venue, employers should still proceed cautiously. Employees joining an event remotely aren’t immune from engaging in inappropriate behaviors. Holiday parties can remain a risk for employers—but employers can mitigate undesirable outcomes by planning effectively. Best practices include:

  • Evaluating your policies—With an increased number of employees working remotely—and the holiday event taking place virtually as well—ensure your employee handbook addresses remote behaviors to help mitigate risks. Employees should have easy access to an employee handbook and all policies, and be aware that a holiday celebration is considered a workplace event, meaning that all behaviors are expected to comply with organizational policies.
  • Keeping holiday celebrations optional—Depending on an employee’s exemption status, they may need to be compensated for their time, leading to challenges for mandating their attendance at a virtual event. Additionally, while many employees will be excited about a celebration, others may feel differently. With this in mind, it may be easier to make attendance optional.
  • Keeping the celebration general—There is some debate over the appropriateness of observing one holiday over another. However, focusing on offering a broader “holiday party” while avoiding specific religious celebrations can be inclusive to employees of varying backgrounds and beliefs.
  • Setting expectations for behaviors—Unfortunately, many holiday parties can lead to inappropriate behaviors by attendees. Despite being remote, employers should be aware that consequential employee behaviors can also take place virtually. Employers can mitigate undesired behaviors by setting expectations for attendees. Be sure to include these expectations in the employee handbook and communicate them to employees.

These best practices help mitigate the risk of employees engaging in inappropriate behaviors and best ensure that employees have a positive experience.

Holiday Celebrations in Your Workplace

While holiday celebrations can positively impact a workplace culture—there is also a case for forgoing a celebration. In addition to safety concerns, these events may have a financial cost, and holiday parties can present risks for employers, such as employees engaging in inappropriate behaviors. While virtual events may be able to mitigate common concerns such as excessive alcohol consumption that can lead to inappropriate behaviors, employers should know that poor behaviors can also take place in the virtual environment.

Employers who typically host an annual celebration, but are choosing not to do so this year, should consider explaining to employees why throwing a holiday party isn’t feasible. While some employees will be disappointed in this decision, they’ll still appreciate the sincerity and transparency.

As the end of the year approaches, employers find themselves torn between postponing, canceling or hosting a holiday celebration using safe practices. Employers should consider what type of celebration makes sense for their organization, even if that means not having one this year. For additional employee engagement resources, contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!