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Recruiting Wisdom

Top 5 Ways Companies are Addressing COVID-19 in the Workplace

min read

As an HR Leader, I have learned to embrace a wide variety of challenges. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 has been one of the most unique challenges of my career.

Fake news covering the coronavirus is rampant, and it’s hard to tell the difference between reputable information and media stunts aimed to scare us. The Johns Hopkins website has a map with daily updates of where cases are being reported worldwide. I, personally, have been torturing myself by reviewing it to see all of the hot spots.

Map showing COVID-19 cases across the world
This interactive map updates in live-time with new cases. We highly recommend checking it out.

As the virus continues to spread in the U.S. it’s vital for companies to start preparing a response strategy if one isn’t already in place. Our job as HR Leaders is to protect our workforce, keep everyone informed and support our employees during times of uncertainty.

I’ve summarized the top 5 ways U.S. companies are currently addressing the coronavirus outbreak:

1. Hygiene Tips in the Workplace

Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Good hygiene is easier than people think.

Since most of us learned the tenets of hygiene when we were young, reminding people of basic life skills can come across as patronizing. Try to balance a serious HR stance with a light message while still getting the point across:

6 hands under UV light
Your best and first line of defense should be hand-washing. Image courtesy of Kristen Bell on Instagram.

Hand sanitizer drug facts label
Make sure your hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol and says "Antimicrobial" not "Antibacterial"

If you really want to keep the office clean, strategize a daily cleaning plan, break your facility into cleaning zones and appoint zone captains. 

CDC's COVID-19 prevention guidelines
The CDC guidelines for COVID-19 preventative care.

Additionally, follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask:

2. Feeling Sick? Stay Home

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle aches and shortness of breath. It is strongly advised for anyone that is experiencing shortness of breath to go to the hospital immediately. Order touch-less thermometers for the office, and if anyone feels slightly unwell, encourage them to take their temperature. 

HUman body labeled with COVID-19 symptoms
Coronavirus symptoms can manifest in a lot of different parts of the body. Image courtesy of RGI.

3. Addressing Work from Home

If your company is able, consider limiting human exposure by rolling out work from home options. Here are a few ways how:

4. Travel: What to do about it

Our global economy —people constantly in transit for business and vacation— is what leads to viruses spreading faster in this day and age compared to hundreds of years ago. Many airlines have cancelled flights and companies have begun to suspend all non-essential business travel.

Several flights being delayed or cancelled due to COVID-19
Every traveler's worst nightmare come true.

Companies can prohibit business travel, but we can’t tell people what to do with their personal lives. However, companies are still able to place quarantine rules. If an employee recently came back from an international trip, especially if visiting high risk countries were part of their trip, make a policy to quarantine them.

It would be prudent to ask them to work remotely for a few days up to 14 days. The average incubation period for COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days because after a person becomes infected with the virus, it takes on average 5 to 6 days before symptoms appear.

Flowchart on what to do if you suspect you might have COVID-19
Information for this chart was sourced from BuzzFeed News.

Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found at on the CDC website.

5. Coronavirus: Know the Basic Facts to Answer Questions for Your Team

In most of our organizations, no one has formal training on virus outbreaks. It’s important for HR Leaders to stay on the pulse and be ready for action. Career Learning is hosting a free webinar on March 18 at 12pm: Preparing Your Organization For A COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak.

Coronavirus written on a notebook
This webinar will be chock full of information that could help your company stay safe.

It’s hard not to be an alarmist about COVID-19, but, at the same time, it would be naive to not be vigilant. Pay attention to anyone that seems to be extremely stressed or anxious about the situation.

Coping with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak comes in many forms. Be ready to be the trusted person everyone can lean on during this challenging time. 

Stay safe out there! 

Sign telling people to wash their hands due to COVID-19 in a funny way

Christina Wells

Christina is dedicated to ensuring people and companies stay safe amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

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