Staying well at work seems trickier than it used to be.
Unfortunately, COVID is making a comeback with new variants shutting down places like Australia and Bangladesh, halting business operations for many. With these new outbreaks (and some health organizations encouraging vaccinated folks to mask up again), it’s important for employers to stay vigilant in keeping their in-office teams safe.
With every state seeing an increase in COVID cases, it’s essential for companies to prepare and practice prevention efforts to keep the virus from spreading. In doing so, leadership can help employees who have come back into the office stay well at work and feel comfortable staying in the workplace.
“A simple trick to adopt in the office is to post reminders about health and safety throughout the office,” says Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy, a primary care doctor for DoctorSpring. “It should become common practice for everyone. Condition them to adopt such protocols so that it will be a normal practice for them.”
Want some more guidance?
Here’s what your company can do now to help your team stay well at work:
Preparation is key and now that we know what to somewhat expect from COVID, workplaces can get ahead of a company-wide virus spread. Unfortunately, COVID isn’t quite behind us yet. If anything, it’s spreading quickly and faster than its previous variant. If your business has reopened or plans to reopen, preparing the workplace can make all the difference.
A few ways to prep:
- Keep health protocols in place - Any new health policies that were implemented during the start of the pandemic may need to stay put. Keeping it the same for your company can also eliminate decision fatigue for employees. Prohibit employees with any symptom of illness from reporting to the workplace.
- Create an emergency plan - In the event that an outbreak occurs in your workplace, you'll want a detailed emergency plan for what that will look like. Many businesses were blindsided by how to deal with the initial lockdowns and struggled with switching to remote work. Upgrade equipment, review sick policies, and keep employees in the know.
- Provide appropriate work space - In an effort to keep employees safe, it may be time to reconfigure the office space again. Look at ways to keep social distancing in place in your workplace.
- Encourage vaccinations - Ask employees to consider getting vaccinated. Avoid using negative reinforcement to get them to schedule a COVID shot. Instead, use positive tactics like rewards for those who become fully vaccinated. Consider a scheduled group vaccination for your team and give them a paid day or two off that won’t count toward mandated sick leaves.
- Keep masks on hand - For those busy mornings where employees are rushing out the door and forget a mask, keep a basket of clean, disposable masks in the workplace for their use.
Side note: Remind employees to ensure their household keeps two weeks’ worth of food, prescription medicines and supplies in the event of a necessary quarantine.
Establish Important Safety Measures
As government entities and employers consider ways of reopening businesses after COVID-19 closures — and amid yet another wave of COVID case spikes — questions linger about how teams can return to safely to the workplace. While some safety measures may be preferred by a company, government laws may override those — as was seen during the height of the pandemic with lockdowns.
Some general considerations for reopening your workplace:
- Look over CDC and OSHA guidelines
- Keep in touch with your local health department
- Stay updated on local and state guidelines
- Ensure that leadership is all on the same page with safety measures
- Review FMLA guidelines for parental leave when it comes to school closures
Keep in mind local and state guidelines will dictate many workplace policies, making it essential to have a pulse on your state’s government responses.
Practice Prevention Efforts
Prevention can go a long way in keeping your staff well at work. Proactive measures like handwashing, sanitizing, and physical distancing can all prevent the spread of COVID and other germs.
“Going back to the office carries health risks, especially with new COVID variants that are more infectious,” says Dr. Tripathy. “There have been reports that some vaccines currently being administered across the globe are not as effective against certain variants. To begin with, vaccines do not guarantee total protection against infection. We emphasize to our patients and friends that they are only safe from severe symptoms and death, but they are not spared from getting infected and becoming infectious to people around them.”
A few prevention practices worth keeping up:
- Keep hand sanitizer on hand - Wherever you can, install alcohol or sanitizers throughout the office as a reminder to keep hands clean.
- Follow the usual guidance - Physical distancing, handwashing, and mask-wearing are all excellent prevention measures, not just for preventing the spread of COVID, but also germs in general.
- Send a daily reminder to clean-up - For in-house staff, create an automated email that goes out toward the end of the day. Ask team members to wipe down their phones, desks, keyboards, mouse, and chairs with sanitizer. Have janitorial staff take the trash out daily, especially ones with used tissues or other bodily fluids.
- Remind employees to be mindful - Even vaccinated employees should be mindful of COVID updates and new variants. That may mean masking up in crowded places.
- Introduce staggered work hours - If your workplace isn’t already on a staggered work schedule, look into how that might work for your office. Doing so will limit the number of people in a space at any given time, further preventing a COVID outbreak from spreading to too many people.
“People will be more careful and compliant to safety protocols if they understand what it all means — what vaccines do and don’t do, and what they should and shouldn’t be doing in public,” Dr. Tripathy believes.
Stay Well at Work Beyond the Pandemic
Again and again, research shows those with certain medical conditions and comorbidities are at higher risk for developing complications if they catch COVID.
Share reminders for employees to:
- Exercise daily
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Get enough sleep each night
- Reduce and manage stress levels
- Keep and attend well visits and physical appointments
While certain health conditions aren’t preventable, many are, including obesity, which can further complicate a COVID case. Encourage employees to stay on top of their health to put them in a better spot to keep their immune systems strong.
Want to boost your employees’ immune system? Share this free and Simple 4-Week Immunity Booster Challenge with them!