It’s now two years since Covid-19 first hit, and we’re met once again with challenges relating to workplace intervention. As we enter 2022, we’re dealing with an even more transmissible virus creating more hospitalization than in the first two rounds of lockdowns. Facing new and unpredictable variants, what can an organizational leader do to optimize operations and get employees back to the workplace?
Through 2021, I saw Covid-19’s impact in the workplace firsthand while working as the interim HR lead for a Children’s Aid Society in Southwestern Ontario. This 160-person organization established protocols in the spring of 2020 including PPE, reduced onsite workforce, and surveillance and testing to follow any signs of illness. Throughout the last 2 years, the organization had workers test positive but did not have any internal transmission to other employees.
Here are the steps we took to optimize our Covid-19 response:
- We asked all employees to complete the government’s self-assessment form daily. If any symptoms were present, we suggested that they seek medical testing to confirm if it was COVID related.
- Anyone who failed the self-assessment or tested positive was contacted and a listing of all their recent contacts was developed so we could follow up with contact tracing should they test positive.
- We reduced the interaction of employees by allowing as many employees as possible to work from home.
- For those who came to the office, we instituted mask-wearing in all common areas and when interacting in close proximity with other employees.
- As soon as possible, we made vaccinations available to our employees and achieved a 93% plus vaccination rate among active employees.
Here are some workplace intervention strategies to reduce the impact of Covid on your operations:
- Encourage your employees to get vaccinated and support them with any necessary accommodations so they can get their shot. These vaccines are safe, effective and will reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths associated with this virus. Currently, the majority of the severe cases of COVID are among those that remain unvaccinated.
- Implement a screening process for all employees to identify symptoms before they come to work and possibly infect other employees. Prior to going to work each day, each employee should go onto the government site, complete the self-screening questionnaire, and send the results to the employer.
- Provide any employees experiencing symptoms with time off to recover and test appropriately. Also, find out who they may have been in contact with at work so you can give those people guidance should the test return positive.
- Ensure proper use of PPE while at work. While the vaccines may prove to reduce the severity of the illness, masking and social distancing are the best way to reduce the transmission.
- When Rapid Testing becomes more available, and we have variants that are spreading as rapidly as omicron, test all of the employees on a regular basis.
The Power of Vaccines
My mom was infected with the poliovirus in 1940 and she suffered from the long-term impact for the rest of her life. Thankfully due to scientific research, a vaccine was developed and given to the world’s population and very few of us have to worry about catching polio. Covid too has some long-term impacts and is becoming increasingly transmissible. We need a global vaccination focus to help control the spread of this virus, and that includes our workplaces.
While I am frustrated with the lack of full support for vaccinations across Canada (only 77% are fully vaccinated), I am hopeful that by taking necessary workplace intervention steps we can have get back to normal function fully in 2022.
Please feel free to contact any of us at The Osborne Group if you are struggling to get your organization back on track to full productivity.