10/4/21—With the presence of COVID-19 still very real, the United States has struggled to return to normalcy in any way that it can. A return to work has been called by many companies across the nation, allowing people to regain some semblance of normalcy. However, with this return, many fears arise as COVID-19 and its variants continue to spread globally, while other illnesses prepare to peak with the onslaught of flu season. Advocating for your organization’s health is more important than ever, as employee health and company profit can suffer severely from the spread of infectious diseases in your organization, leading to productivity loss.
According to employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the 2019-2020 flu season alone cost employers $13 billion, but the cost in lost output has been as high as $21 billion in recent years.1 With such an outstanding number, it’s easy to see that one simple infection, be it flu or COVID-19, in your company can easily spread and cost you a lot in employee downtime. There are many things that can be done to help prevent losses though.
The first step to addressing employee safety is to identify any areas of concern, where you see that infectious diseases could easily be spread. This includes close work quarters, machinery or workstations used by numerous people throughout shifts, and cluster spots or areas where employees gather in larger numbers.
The next step in advocating for your employee health encompasses real policy change. A multifaceted approach to policies and practices in your company can make a world of difference in the health of your workforce. Providing your employees with paid or non-punitive leave encourages them to stay home when they have any symptoms of illness. In fact, the current American Rescue Plan (ARP) announced by the Biden Administration provides funds to small and mid-sized businesses to help them pay for sick leave and employee downtime. If you have employees who can work remotely, allowing for telework limits the number of people on site and can help to mitigate spread too, along with staggering shifts so that there are fewer people on your company’s premises at one time.
Continuing with policy change, safer practices at work should be established. This includes a stringent disinfection and cleaning schedule, either by employees or your cleaning staff, ensuring shared workstations are cleaned between each shift, cluster spots are disinfected and cleaned throughout shifts and at closing, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face masks and fans for ventilation are provided. Encouraging employee hand washing regularly, adherence to PPE wearing, and practicing social distancing with workstations set 6-feet apart or more, are all ways to slow down any infectious spread in your company.
Another essential measure, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is implementing a steadfast contact tracing program.2 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), contact tracing is a key strategy for interrupting chains of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and reducing COVID-19-associated mortality. Thanks to new technology, such as the BLE-enabled AlertTrace contact tracing program, the act of contact tracing is much easier. With wearables that track your employee contact with one another, you can easily monitor which employees have been in contact should a positive case of infectious disease occur. Accordingly, you can then quarantine and inform close contacts, to stop spread from affecting your workforce. While many contact tracing apps carry privacy issues, as they require employees to download on their cellphones and track locations, AlertTrace uses anonymized data collected on wearables about the size of a U.S. quarter. The wearable does not record location data, instead it captures employee interaction with other wearables. Anonymized contact tracing, such as AlertTrace, provides employees with peace of mind knowing that not only is their health a priority, but their privacy is too.
As the world prepares for future flu seasons amidst COVID-19’s ongoing spread, now is the essential time to advocate for the health of your business. AlertTrace is honored to provide reliable and quick contact tracing, with no required infrastructure, to equip your company and help you get back to business fast.
1 Doniger, A. (2021, September 23). Annual peak covid seasons are here to stay. the world of work will pay a big price. CNBC. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/22/peak-covid-season-will-hit-every-year-workers-economy-will-pay-price.html.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Case investigation and contact tracing in non-healthcare workplaces: Information for Employers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/contact-tracing-nonhealthcare-workplaces.html#:~:text=CDC%20encourages%20employers%20to%20collaborate,the%20spread%20of%20the%20disease.
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Contact tracing in the context of covid-19. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/contact-tracing-in-the-context-of-covid-19.