By developing strong workplace policies to address health/safety and reevaluating them over time, companies can ease employee concerns.
As organizations continue to work diligently to adjust their operations to welcome more employees, visitors and vendors into the traditional workplace, the past several weeks has proven this will not be a return to business as usual. Recently companies across all industries have implemented innovative solutions, along with constantly improving internal standards to address COVID-19 risk guidelines set for their city or state as the situation has evolved over time.
Addressing employee safety in the COVID-19 era is vital to retaining and recruiting workers alike, as the possibility of a widely available vaccine is not predicted until 2021. By ensuring strong policies are in place to address workplace safety and reevaluating them over time, organizations can ease their employee concerns.
This includes making sure basic health and safety measures are in place, such as social distancing, mask and the use of other personal protective equipment, updated disinfecting and sanitation protocols, and best hygiene practices of using hand sanitizer. While some of these measures provided by the CDC can be implemented cost-effectively, many organizations will need to address additional preventive measures as strategically as possible, this includes health and temperature checks to prevent the unintentional spread of the virus. As a result of COVID-19’s effects on revenue over the past few months, employers need thorough safety solutions that remain economical and sustainable.
Business owners looking to successfully reopen will need to depend on efficient, nondisruptive measures to safely assist with getting their organization back up and thriving. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus – which can result in organizations having to once again take drastic steps by slowing down or halt production – employers need to create safer environments from the moment their employees walk in the door.
This starts with thinking about common procedures that involve physical interactions, such as employees clocking in and out at the beginning and end of their shifts. A commonplace practice for those in health care, manufacturing, construction and still some retailers, requiring workers to physically clock in and out poses a problem in the COVID-19 era, where physical contact with an object like a touchscreen or punch clock can compromise the safety of an entire workforce. These devices are among the most commonly shared surfaces and are often located in high-traffic areas. Even with extra sanitizing measures in place, there remains the potential of the unintended spread of COVID-19 and other communicable viruses by asymptomatic workers.
To combat this, the CDC has provided additional guidelines for facilities, recommending businesses institute touchless clock-in practices if feasible. While the use of touchless biometric tools such as facial recognition software can address this concern, co-implemented safety precautions such as wearing masks in high-traffic areas can render the facial recognition technology useless. This poses an issue for workers in health care or food processing settings, where it’s crucial that they wear personal protective equipment throughout the workday. The use of facial recognition scanning requires each employee to remove their face coverings before clocking in or out for the day, putting workers at risk and adding additional steps to safety procedures that negate time-saving efforts and fail to properly protect against the spread of communicable viruses.
Within months, innovative human capital management solutions such as biometric facial recognition and fingerprint readers have been rendered obsolete as companies look to embrace sanitary, technologically advanced solutions. This has resulted in a forced evolution of HCM solutions with the ability to integrate into an organization’s current hardware and provide HR leaders with real-time results, ensuring safe work environments and a consistent experience for all employees at point-of-entry.
HCM solutions for the foreseeable future will need to address the following:
- Accurate multi-point temperature readings without removal of masks, hats or other protective apparel.
- Displays of real-time approval or rejection of an employee’s temperature on clock screens.
- Elimination of human error with temperature taking and reporting, including touch-free clock functionality.
- Recognition and accurate identification of employees even while wearing masks and personal protective equipment.
- Elimination of contact with shared devices.
- The tracking of workers’ locations within a building, helping to enforce social distancing measures and to support safer workspaces.
- Training for employees; education and learning of new hygiene behaviors in the workplace
- Communication (use of ESS) to keep employees informed and engaged
As these new policies and technologies begin to be leveraged, organizations will need to ensure they are effectively communicating these changes across the workforce through their learning management system. This allows for a comprehensive, convenient way to reach team members and provides a self-service method for quickly and easily finding and consuming training material, on the web or even on their mobile device. Additionally, HR should verify workers’ understanding and the ability to comply with these new protocols – including the number of employees allowed in common spaces, elevators, breakrooms and conference rooms, and new wellness policies enacted to proactively prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Through utilizing progressive workforce management solutions, organizations can improve the overall health of their workforces and safeguard them against potential health threats before they enter the worksite, providing peace of mind and getting businesses safely back up and running.
About the Author
Jennifer Ho joined Ascentis as VP of HR in 2018. She is a human resources leader with more than 10 years’ experience developing and growing multi-faceted human resource strategies. Prior to Ascentis, Jennifer led human resources departments for several high growth technology businesses, and has a wealth of experience in talent acquisition, training and development, compensation and benefits, and process improvement.