The health and wellness of your employees and staff is a huge priority all the time, but it is especially important during health outbreaks. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every American industry, including manufacturing and warehouse jobs. In these essential businesses, most essential employees don’t have the option to work remotely to maintain the demand for goods and services.
Here are some best practices for maintaining the health and wellness of your essential workers during the COVID-19 outbreak, and when things go back to normal.
Promoting Health and Wellness at Work
It’s in your best interest to keep your employees healthy and happy as best you can. As an employer, following best practices to promote a healthy workplace can save you from costly liabilities and absenteeism related to health issues, while improving the performance and morale of your workers. Here are some guidelines to follow during COVID-19, and when things return to normal working conditions.
Promoting essential employee wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 is very contagious, and is often asymptomatic for the first two weeks. This means employees can unwittingly spread the virus if they don’t follow safety precautions. Unlike the seasonal flu, COVID-19 has been shown to transmit as tiny droplets in the air from an infected person coughing or sneezing. The OSH Act of 1970 ensures employees are offered, “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
For this reason, essential employees should follow these workplace health guidelines:
- Social distancing: One of the most effective ways to avoid the spread of COVID-19 is to maintain a six-foot personal bubble at work. Employees should be conscious of their distance between other employees at workstations, in thoroughfares, offices, bathrooms, and any other space at the office.
- When in doubt, stay home: Absenteeism can affect productivity, but employee health and safety comes first. Let your employees know that if they feel under the weather, they should not be coming to work. Sick workers present an undue risk of transmission, and should be sent home immediately.
- Wash your hands and sanitize properly: The CDC recommends employees should wash their hands frequently with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. Be sure to keep soap, water, and hand sanitizer readily available for your employees.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth: The New England Journal of Medicine found that the COVID-19 virus can survive and remain infectious on metal, plastic, and cardboard surfaces. Even if your employees are practicing social distancing, they are likely touching surfaces other employees have touched. For this reason, touching the eyes, nose, and mouth should be avoided, especially with unwashed hands.
- Stagger work schedules, allow flexible work arrangements: There may be opportunities to make changes to employees’ work hours to promote health at your business. Additionally, flexible work arrangements could enable your employees to stay productive while keeping distance from other employees.
- Purchase additional equipment and tools: If your workers share tools in the workplace, it presents an increased risk of spreading infection. Buying more tools to reduce equipment sharing is a powerful way to limit exposure to potential contaminants. If sharing tools and equipment is absolutely necessary, be sure to go the extra mile to ensure sterilization and cleanliness best practices.
- Step up workplace cleanliness: Even if your office maintains a regular cleanup schedule, you should be more thorough than ever before. All surfaces should be cleaned and sterilized at a regular interval, especially in common areas. You may consider hiring a cleaning crew to sanitize surfaces or raising your cleaning frequency if you already have one.
- Eliminate multi-use products when possible: Re-using the same products can increase the risk of infection. Erring on the side of caution with single-use products that are individually wrapped could protect your employees from health risks. For instance, can you delegate one person in charge of checking in employees to replace a shared computer? If your company provides snacks, consider changing to prepackaged options that are for individual use.
- Purchase additional PPE equipment: Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is one of the most effective ways to protect your employees from contracting disease. Lacking the essential protective equipment that essential workers need could create a hazardous situation in the workplace, so ensure you have more than enough PPE on hand.
The COVID-19 outbreak situation changes from day to day. As of April 2020, there is no vaccine for this virus, and no known immunities exist. The best thing you can do for your workers is to stay informed on developments and best practices, and keep your business agile enough to adapt to changes as needed.
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The Benefits of Wellness Programs
Whether there is an active pandemic or not, employers should promote the health and wellbeing of their employees. Investing in your workers’ health in the form of a wellness program has several notable benefits for employers and employees alike.
The benefits of promoting employee wellness include:
1. Reduced absenteeism:
According to RAND research, healthy employees miss 18-32% less workdays. In the average workplace, the absenteeism costs the employer $3,600 a year for every salaried worker and $2,650 for hourly workers. Employers that promote employee wellness can expect to see cost savings from less absenteeism on a large scale.
2. More productive workers:
In a survey by Willis, 93% of organizations indicate healthier employees are more productive. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans survey found that among employers with wellness programs, 66% saw increased productivity and 67% said their employee satisfaction improved.
3. Lower health insurance costs:
Most companies see a decrease in health costs and payouts for their employees as a result of wellness programs. Along with higher productivity, morale, and attendance, lower health insurance costs from healthy employees could benefit your organization’s bottom line. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, employees with more health risk factors (like obesity, smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure) cost more to insure than people with fewer risk factors.
Need Help with Staffing?
If you need skilled workers during or after the COVID-19 outbreak, we offer pre-screened and qualified workers to fit your business. Despite the uncertainty this pandemic has brought, we’re here to provide essential staff with the skills you need. Reach out to TERRA Staffing Group today to take the next step.
We’ve also created a resource center for employers to give you easy access to the information you need when you need it. We are committed to being a partner you can count on in any circumstance.
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