By Paul Binsfeld, president and founder of Company Nurse LLC and Cherri Lindquist, BSN, RN, CCM, clinical nurse manager of Company Nurse LLC
As the country begins to slowly re-open, make sure you have a strategy for protecting your employees’ health and reducing liability for your organization when the time comes to return to your own workplace.
Take a look at some of the best practices that you can implement:
Communications from Your COVID-19 Task Force
By now, your organization should have a COVID-19 task force to create clear messaging to help your employees navigate these confusing times. From providing financial management resources to reminding your employees of health benefits to creating a sense of community, the task force team members are the company’s main source of information for addressing this crisis in your workplace.
That’s why it’s important that they, along with members of your leadership team, continue to send communications to your team regarding the return to your workplace.
Your employees will have a lot of questions about their return to your workplace; having a dedicated team to answer them will bring comfort and help them to receive consistent information.
If you still need to put together such a team, it’s not too late. You can learn more about supporting employees during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, here.
Respect Your Employees’ Comfort Levels
If possible, ask employees to come back to the workplace when they feel most comfortable – do not force anyone to come into the office.
Just like society must slowly transition back to a normal way of life, so must your organization. One way to do this is bringing your employees back to the workplace in phases—it will not return to normal overnight.
Offer employees who express interest in returning to the workplace the ability to come back in the first phase. And yes, while working from home may be a treat for many of your employees, there are employees who are eager to get back to the workplace.
Perhaps these eager employees don’t have a proper home office setup and/or feel more productive in your organization’s workspace. Either way, they will appreciate the offer to safely come back to the workplace.
Screen Your Employees for COVID-19 Symptoms
Both the White House and CDC guidelines state that employees should be monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 before entering the workplace.
When the time comes to bring your employees back to the workplace, you can utilize a screening process to make sure employees with COVID-19-related symptoms stay home. Please remember, you should consult with legal counsel when implementing a screening process.
At Company Nurse, we’ve developed a COVID-19 Digital Screening and Triage Guidance solution for COVID-19 symptoms and exposures, to help you maintain a healthy work environment, protecting your employees’ safety and your organization from potential litigation.
With the tool, you can automatically screen employees before they return to the workplace with the most up-to-date CDC guidelines, so you can be sure that they are healthy and ready to be back in the workplace.
If an employee exhibits COVID-19-related symptoms that may need to be addressed, the employee will schedule a call with an expert triage nurse for additional guidance.
In addition, if an employee previously tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, the employee will continue to monitor symptoms when the employee is return-to-work ready.
As soon as the screening and/or triage (if needed) is completed, your HR team will be securely notified so that they can take proper action. Please note, you should keep screening records separate from employee files.
Hold Each Other Accountable
Explain to your team that returning to the workplace needs to be done carefully, and that you all have a responsibility to maintain a healthy work environment.
If possible, provide your employees with cleaning supplies and masks and ask that they protect themselves, their team members, and, if applicable, customers, by using these supplies.
Instruct your employees to hold each other accountable for covering coughs, going home when sick, washing hands, wearing masks, and keeping workspaces clean. And continue to look to the task force to lead by example and to send communications to remind employees of these necessary practices.