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Employee health matters more now than ever before. With various states and communities starting to re-open in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this shift leaves some people wondering whether or not they will be safe. In fact, one study of 1,000 respondents in May of 2020 by Eagle Hill Consulting found that 54 percent of employees are worried about COVID-19 exposure at their workplace.

As an employer, you can instill confidence in your employees and let them know that it’s safe to return to the workplace. Here are a few changes you can make to reassure them and move your business forward.

Establish Clear Guidelines for Customers

Each state and municipality has established its own rules for opening post-COVID-19. Some regions have mask mandates and others have restrictions for indoor seating and capacity. As a business owner, you are required to comply with these rules, but the enforcement also falls on your shoulders.

Establish guidelines for your customers and employees and empower workers to enforce them. For example, if your store has a mandatory mask policy, let employees know that they can refuse service to customers who refuse to wear masks. Don’t forget to educate employees about fake exemptions so they know how to counter customers who try to use them.

Your employees want to know that you will stand up for them and that you value their safety over the business of a few non-compliant customers.

Secure the Necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

One of the biggest issues raised by the Eagle Hill Consulting survey is that employees are worried about having access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Almost 60 percent of workers said they didn’t know if their employer could provide enough masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, just to name a few protective options.

You can prioritize employee health by providing this equipment. You also respect their salaries and income levels by doing so. PPE is a necessary work expense. If your employees have to buy their own masks and sanitizer, they lose money that they could have spent on groceries, utilities, and rent.

You can also set a standard for the PPE you will provide but invite team members to buy their own if they want to. For example, you might give each employee a pack of masks, but allow them to wear their own hand-sewn designs as long as they meet the safety guidelines. The key is to avoid placing the entire PPE burden on your team members.  

Prioritize Cleaning

Now is not the time to skimp on cleaning. Prioritize employee health by investing in the right cleaning needed for keeping your workspace safe during COVID-19. For example, 83 percent of businesses are investing more money into cleaning, according to a recent SERVPRO Office Cleaning survey. The cleaning services being invested in most:

  • 34 percent are working with a certified CDC-approved company, in addition to a janitorial service.
  • 28 percent are working with cleaning companies that use CDC-approved cleaning products and methods.

Don’t discount this as a key element of ensuring employees feel safe coming into the office each day, while also keeping them healthy.

Respect Employee Sick Time

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how quickly illness can spread, and workplaces have long-since been considered hotspots for sickness. One of the main reasons for this is because employees come to work sick.

In an October 2019 report by Robert Half, 90 percent of professionals admitted they at least sometimes go to the office with cold and flu symptoms. These workers either don’t want to use their sick time or feel like they have too much work to not show up.

This statistic has to change in 2020 if you are to maintain good employee health. As an employer, you cannot tolerate sick employees in your workplace. Not only would you likely need to shut down if a significant number of staff members catch Coronavirus, but you are risking the families of your employees as well. You are also contributing to the pandemic’s numbers and preventing its eradication.

Remember, an employee can also pass their illness on to you. You can’t afford to miss work for several days and don’t want to possibly infect your family as well. If an employee is sick, make sure they go home and stay home until they have fully recovered and passed a COVID test.

Update Your Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Many of the strategies listed above can be made right away but may not be necessary in the long-term. After all, most people don’t expect to wear masks forever. However, there are some long-term changes you should consider in your business.

One of these is your worker’s compensation policy. Evaluate your current worker’s compensation insurance to see if you have the coverage you need at a reasonable price. Do you offer medical care coverage, disability coverage, and other employee benefits? Are you overpaying compared to other options?

Most importantly, are all the current health needs of your employees covered by your worker’s compensation plan. If not, it’s time to consider investing in a new plan so you can ensure employee health is taken care of from every angle.

Employee Health: Prioritize People Over Profits

As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in payroll expenses and costs of PPE and sick leave. However, the people who need this coverage aren’t just workers—they’re very real human beings with lives and families outside of work. Make sure you approach employee health with a personal touch and care for the people who work for you. When you prioritize your people, they will do their best to move your company forward.