We’re starting for the first time ever what I’ve dubbed Cold, Flu, and COVID season. The challenge this year is that initial symptoms for all three look similar. What can you do to keep your team well and your business open?
Fight complacency – I haven’t run into anyone who isn’t just tired of this entire thing. That said, we must be vigilant to keep our businesses open.
Understand the guidance – If your employee has COVID, you will have to isolate them and anyone who has been in close contact with them. Close contact is defined by the CDC as less than six feet for more than 15 minutes. Contract tracing will define the timeline as two days before symptoms started.
With symptoms developing and then delays in testing you could be having to look back at four to seven days to determine who has been in contact. If you’ve got to isolate a significant part of your team, this could be very detrimental to your business operations. If their close contact includes customers, you could have even larger repercussions.
Assess your risk – In what areas of your business do people work in close contact? This could be something as simple as management meetings or line level daily huddles. It might be hands on training where you have trainer and trainee in close contact.
What are choke points in your business that create close contact? It might be reception desks, shared office space, meeting rooms or hallways where people are forced into close quarters.
Decide on your controls – At this point we’ve all seen the basics – hand washing, mask wearing, physical distancing, and plexiglass barriers. Consider a wellness check for your employees at the start of the day. This can be a simple questionnaire and may include a temperature check. Do you have space to physical distance for meetings? Can you conduct meeting’s remotely through Zoom, Teams, or another video software? This is especially important for key leaders and employees so that if someone is sick you don’t have to isolate many. In shared spaces decide on occupancy based not only on distance, but on how critical the people operating in those spaces are to your operations.
Get serious about sick leave – The work ethic at most organizations is to power through a cold and keep on working. This season that ethic could result in closing your business for two weeks. When employees have symptoms, have them stay at home and pay them. Even if you don’t have sick leave, there’s a provision in the CARES Act that will give a tax credit to help you. The cost of sick leave versus closing your operations is not comparable.
Cold, flu, and COVID season is here. Use these ideas to make sure your staff stays healthy and your business continues to operate.