Many employers consider the COVID-19 vaccine as a source of hope for returning back to a sense of normal in the workplace, even with the possibility of new variants. Employers everywhere finally have a reason to feel optimistic again, especially as the peak of cases starts to drop. However, COVID-19 has resulted in new HR trends and changes in workplace safety for the foreseeable future.
The new challenges employers are now faced with are learning how to manage COVID in the workplace, and how to keep up with vaccination records among employees. On top of that, employers must worry about compliance with things such as the OSHA vaccine mandate and in general, just keeping their employees healthy and their workplace safe.
How to Manage COVID in the Workplace
Apart, from physical controls such as installing high-efficiency air filters, implementing physical distancing, increasing ventilation systems in enclosed indoor areas, etc., using proper HR solutions and software can go a long way in managing COVID in your workplace. It can also make complying with things like the OSHA vaccine mandate or OSHA COVID emergency temporary standard (ETS) laws.
In addition to HR and HCM solution software, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has also created a workplace vaccination program, for employers whose goal is to have as many employees vaccinated as possible.
Despite the importance of implementing safeguards to guarantee workplace safety, monitoring employee COVID status manually, on a day-to-day basis, is likely to overwhelm any HR department. This is why a COVID management HR solution is vital to any business in the coming year. However, ensuring that you have a solution that is properly keeping your employees healthy, your workplace safe, and your business compliant can be stressful.
What Features Should COVID Management Solutions Include?
Suitable modules and features should provide a comprehensive solution that allows employers to implement all the required return to work safety standards. It should make it easier for HR professionals to monitor employee COVID status and maintain a secure database for records. The system should also allow for convenient reporting of infections, deaths, and any other reports that may be requested.
Generally, a good COVID management solution should include key features such as:
- Vaccine tracking
- Employee vaccine forms & documentation
- Vaccine PTO or incentives tracking
- Schedule shifts based on vaccine status
- COVID-related turnover
- Applicant vaccine knockout questions
- Contact tracing
- COVID case management
- Health verification
Vaccine Management & Tracking
While many people in the country have elected to get vaccinated, there are still many who have not received a COVID vaccine. Whether your goal as an employer is to ensure that all employees (or as many as possible) are vaccinated, or not, you need to at the very least keep track of who is and who isn't vaccinated.
For employers whose goal is to have all of their employees vaccinated, the CDC has outlined some ways on how to achieve that goal.
For businesses with a large number of employees, and who have many that are still unvaccinated, the CDC recommends an onsite vaccination drive, if employers have the means to do so. Employers may explore options such as:
- Organizing for vaccination at your existing occupational health clinics
- Bringing in mobile vaccination clinics
- Hosting a local health facility vaccination clinic
For employers who don't have a big workforce or have a mostly vaccinated workforce already, setting up an onsite vaccination clinic might be unpractical. In this case, you can organize for offsite vaccination in the community. Employers may explore options such as:
- Temporary vaccination clinics at community locations
- Hospitals and healthcare provider offices
- Qualified health centers and community clinics
- Enrolled pharmacies
Ideally, employers whose goal is to have all of their employees vaccinated should build confidence among unvaccinated workers. Employers who are struggling to achieve their vaccination goals may want to consider methods such as:
- Using organizational leaders as role models to encourage COVID vaccine uptake
- Fostering transparent communication with the workers to enlighten them about the importance of the vaccine and answer their questions related to it
- Opening channels for communicating vaccine-related updates to the employees
- Hosting Q&A sessions with trusted providers or physicians
- Vaccination reward programs, incentives, and benefits to vaccinated workers
Whether employers choose to have their entire workforce vaccinated or not, they need to track who is currently vaccinated, who isn't, and have an easy and simple way for employees to update their vaccination status. HR professionals should look for COVID management solutions that enable employees to update their vaccination status, either through a web-based or mobile app, from where your HR admins can verify the information.
The benefits of vaccine tracking include:
- The ability to automatically track and enable employees to update their vaccination status
- If you choose to offer them, the ability to easily manage and track PTO or other incentives
- The ability to ensure applicants and new hires meet vaccine requirements
- The ability to streamline and target communication to employees
Case Management & Tracking
OSHA has also outlined case management requirements for employers. Employers need to instruct infected workers, unvaccinated employees who had close contact with someone infected, and any worker with COVID-19 symptoms not to report for work.
Employers must also record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths to OSHA.
A case management and tracking module should enable you to enforce these guidelines more efficiently while helping your business stay compliant. Reports should provide employers with a better understanding of the impact of COVID on your business and generally grant a convenient case management experience.
The benefits of case management include:
- The ability to view current cases and identify areas of the business that are most impacted
- The ability to respond to new COVID cases quickly with automated notifications
When an employee tests positive for COVID-19, you should help break the chain of transmission by identifying and informing people who might have been exposed and having them isolate according to CDC isolation and quarantine guidelines. This is what is commonly known as contact tracing.
It is important to be able to ensure your business technology supports remote work, so that quarantining and isolating employees may still be able to contribute and keep up with their responsibilities for the company. Once employees are out of their isolation or quarantine period, it is important to know how to keep employees safe when they return to work.
When it comes to contact tracing, a good COVID management solution should be able to:
- Quickly identify potentially exposed employees
- Reduce the risk of an outbreak by notifying those impacted
Employers, especially those with large companies, should conduct daily screenings when employees are checking in. The objective of doing this is to ensure only symptom-free employees work from the office.
Screenings and health verifications typically include questions such as:
- Have you been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID?
- Have you been feeling any symptoms related to COVID or any other sickness?
- If so, list the symptoms?
- Have you tested positive for COVID or are awaiting test results in the past 10 days?
Of course, all of these health checks are different, but more or less follow the same idea. If an employee answers pretty much anything but no, they shouldn't come to the office.
Manually doing daily health screenings for employees is practically impossible. A good COVID management solution can help streamline and automate these health checks, while also keeping you safe in the process.
Other benefits of health verifications and screenings are:
- Employees can verify their health when clocking in for work easily
- Helps protect employees and customers by reducing the risk of an outbreak
COVID Response Hub
For employers who are ready to start properly managing COVID and vaccinations in the workplace, Inflection HR's COVID management solution, COVID Response Hub can help. You will be able to check every box on the list above of how to effectively manage COVID and vaccinations in the workplace.
By utilizing a solution like COVID Response Hub for managing vaccinations and health status, you will be able to reap benefits such as:
- Compliance with the return to work regulations
- Easy tracking of vaccination and employee health status
- Reducing the risk of COVID transmission in the workplace
- Boosting the confidence of workplace safety among employees, customers, and visitors
- Reducing employee absenteeism due to illness
- Improving overall business productivity
With COVID Response Hub, you'll be able to quickly access COVID tools, fill shifts that require workers to be vaccinated quickly, get at-a-glance insights into vaccine statuses, turnover, cases, and much more.
If you are an employer that needs help with managing COVID in your workplace, then Inflection HR can help. Contact us today to see how we are already helping countless businesses manage COVID.