We all know that we need to modify the way we work to adapt in the wake of COVID-19. One of the main changes Georgia businesses are exploring is daily employee health screenings.
Health screenings may help employers protect their teams and ongoing work by keeping coronavirus out of their offices. However, many employers aren’t sure how to roll out a program or approach communicating with their team about the transition toward workplace COVID screenings.
Here are some basic considerations to keep in mind as you formulate your plan.
What Effective COVID-19 Screening at Work Looks Like
A Clear Team and Point of Contact
COVID-19 screening should be conducted by a designated professional or team with strong knowledge of CDC guidance on COVID-19 symptomology and prevention. Ideally a person with some form of medical certification (BLS certification may be a good idea, and is relatively easily obtained)
Those professionals must be protected with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and gloves to protect their own health and minimize their potential as vectors for the employees they’re screening.
Employees should be checked for temperatures upon arrival at work and sent home if they exhibit fevers of 100.4 °F or higher.
How do we capture temperatures in a safe, compliant way?
Temperature checks should be carried out with a touchless temporal thermometer and avoid direct skin contact to minimize potential spread of the COVID-19 virus and other germs. This is also a far less disturbing and invasive way to temperature check, and will hopefully make employees feel more comfortable with the process.
Respiratory Health Screening Questions
In addition to checking temperatures, your screening team should have each employee complete a short questionnaire describing their current respiratory health with an eye towards identifying red flags.
This guide from the Department of Health provides guidelines for which symptoms should be included in a COVID-19 employee health screening, including providing a model questionnaire.
What Employees Need to Know About Workplace COVID-19 Screening
Of course, the final piece of a great implementation plan is a strong employee communication strategy. When you’re communicating with your team effectively, it fosters engagement and helps your employees see that you’re focused on safety and taking steps to reopen with everybody’s health in mind.
Before you reopen with your new workplace health screening system in place, you need to contact your team through whatever official channels you’ve been using during your temporary shutdown or remote work to alert them that screenings will be taking place when you reopen and provide them with the information they need to comply with and feel comfortable with this new procedure.
What do your employees absolutely need to know to reduce return-to-work anxiety and ensure your workplace reopen is a success. Here again, are some pointers:
Why You’re Screening Employees at Work
To some people, lining up for a health inspection as you head into work sounds like something from a dystopian science fiction novel. It's weird and scary and a lot of people are not going to like it.
You need to set a positive tone and help your employees understand that these new procedures are for their health and wellness, not simply the wellbeing and liability of the company.
The better you can explain your rationale for new health screening protocols in a humanistic, talent-centric way, the better you’ll be able to win buy-in.
When/Where Screening Will Occur
Before your reopen occurs, employees need to know how to comply with the new COVID-19 screening protocols. That means you they need to know when and how often screenings occur, where to go, and who to make contact with.
Remember, you can only expect compliance and enthusiasm about your new procedures when you’ve made the effort to communicate openly and honestly about them. If people show up to work and see a line they’re not expecting, it’s a recipe for disharmony and frustration.
What the Screening Entails
Nobody likes to go into any kind of “test” without knowing the expectations. Your health screening procedure needs to be clear and transparent for employees ahead of time to reduce anxiety.
What kind of questions will they need to answer?
Your employees should know the respiratory screening questions they’ll be asked ahead of time to ensure they understand what they’re being asked and have the opportunity to ask questions about interpretation of either your HR team or their own personal healthcare professional.
How will temperature checks work?
No one likes the idea of being poked or prodded, especially with a potentially virus-covered tool. By ensuring your employees you’ll be monitoring their temperature using no-touch tools and will have screeners use PPE in a way that aligns with best practices, you can minimize anxiety about the physical aspects of the health screening.