Many employment and human resources blogs are churning out stories about employee concerns surrounding the coronavirus vaccine.
But we recently conducted a social media poll and found the exact opposite: an average of 67% of respondents say they have no vaccine concerns.
What does this tell us?
That businesses may be better off focusing on implementing workplace health and safety solutions, rather than wasting valuable time and money overthinking vaccine guidelines.
Here are the vital risk mitigation steps for employers to take while vaccines are still in the distribution phase.
Nearly 70% of respondents average no vaccine concerns. Combined, all three additional answers tied for second place with 21%: people who fear they’ll be fired for refusing a vaccine, people who fear their employers will require them to take it, and other.
Knowing that most employees don’t have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine frees employers up to tackle an even bigger, more pressing issue – how to reopen workplaces safely, confidently, and with enough long-term solutions to stem any new health crises.
Consider this: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation reported in 2015 the average cost of influenza for businesses averaged $87 billion annually. Now add what is potentially an annual seasonal outbreak of coronavirus to that number, and you are looking at a very real, very large problem businesses must solve. It’s imperative organizations make a similar investment to stave off COVID-19 and whatever pandemic will come next while their employees continue to work remotely.
A recent survey of 3.6 million verified business professionals found that 33% of companies are postponing their return-to-work plans until the first quarter of 2021. Some major players like Google, Microsoft, Target, and Ford Motor have announced plans to delay until summer 2021. These decisions, while not ideal for all, give employers the time they need to implement a comprehensive return-to-work solution that mitigates risk to employees’ personal health and safety, communicate those plans and procedures, and install the new technology needed to protect its daily operations.
As of January 11, people have used the CDCs online coronavirus checker more than 40.4 million times. This indicates employees are willing to take some individual responsibility to ensure they stay healthy and aren’t a risk to others. Employees want to be assured they will be returning to safe and healthy workspaces.
A centralized integrated platform that has a range of scanning, tracking, and communication tools can help ensure everyone’s safety, regardless if they’ve been vaccinated or not. A comprehensive platform that includes the following components also acts as a risk mitigation plan for future health crises:
How you choose to screen your staff is entirely up to you. While managers can rely on security cameras and spot checks to ensure mask-wearing and proper social distancing, distance monitoring and contact tracing enables leadership to detect potential and existing risks more effectively and quickly reduce the likelihood of exposing other employees. Contact tracing not only informs you who may be at risk based on location, but identifies the location and duration of any exposures.
A combination of wearable devices for employees and fixed devices across the facility is the ideal risk mitigation approach to contact tracing. Wearable devices continually track employees’ movements, recording the distance and duration of interactions – and alert individuals in real-time when they are at increased risk. Fixed devices capture a critical distance monitoring point of view for employers, and leadership can use that tracing information to analyze foot traffic density and change space configurations, if needed. If an outbreak does occur, these recorded encounters are highly valuable for notifying those who may need to quarantine or be tested.
A truly effective workplace contact tracing program will also have an automated alert and communication system that immediately informs employees of a potential exposure while also protecting employees’ identities. An employee mobile app that sends out secure notifications as well as information regarding testing or quarantining, while protecting any affected employees’ identities, is a key piece to any risk mitigation platform. The entire process is automated and immediately allows you to trace possible chains of infection. The goal is to stop the spread as quickly as possible while allowing you to keep your business running.
While the distribution of vaccines will surely impact infection rates, employees, customers, and visitors now expect companies to do something else to ensure their health and safety are being put first. Just as influenza did, COVID-19 has now done. Businesses need a comprehensive, scalable return-to-work safety plan that can evolve as fast as necessary to meet any health and safety needs, while providing critical data insights to help make business decisions as rapidly and confidently as possible.
EBI Workplace Health & Safety is a secure, U.S. cloud-based, customizable platform providing modular options for retailers and all organizations to protect their people and their livelihoods. The platform serves as a central data repository and analytics engine for data collected through employee mobile health apps, thermal scanners, and contact tracing systems. These analytics give employers the insights they need to make critical business decisions to keep workplaces open and operational.
Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.