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As many employees return to on-site working, larger companies have become responsible for maintaining a healthy work environment against the coronavirus. Companies with at least 100 employees are required to adhere to the Emergency Temporary Standards implemented by OSHA which states that unvaccinated employees must wear masks by December 5th and provide negative COVID-19 tests each week starting on January 4th. Keeping up to the date with current regulations in a vastly changing environment has become another hurdle to jump through for many human resources departments who are doing their best to keep their employees safe and happy as many return to work.

Typical human resources responsibilities include advocacy for employees, offering support, creating a safe working environment, implementing guidelines, administering compensations and company programs, and so much more. OSHA and HIPAA compliance certainly add to the complexity of these responsibilities. So how do you navigate on-site employees during a pandemic? Read on to learn more.

1. Provide employees with what they need

Supporting staff through a time of uncertainty is the job of the human resources department and returning to work during the tail end of a pandemic is no exception. Your staff will feel safe, secure, and supported if your company is flexible and provides additional care.

Whether this means adopting a flexible work schedule, more PTO, providing free masks and sanitizer for the staff, or work-from-home privileges, it’s crucial to listen to the needs of your employees and support them as they navigate the pandemic in their own lives.

For example, many employees may favor benefits that allow them to care for their loved ones so that they can be productive and stress-free during work hours. Prioritizing work-life balance, recognizing and rewarding employees often, and creating bonuses for the end of a challenging year will be the difference between creating a subpar work environment and one that fully supports them.

2. Redesign the workplace

Open floor plans and co-working spaces are not the ideal layouts for employees to feel safe in their environments while at work, nor is it conducive to abiding by the 6-feet rule of social distancing.

Consider redesigning your workspace in a way that will prevent the potential spread of the virus. Choose office furniture that is easy to clean and allows employees to social distance. Instead of long wooden desks with a plethora of Macbooks where employees can easily collaborate, chat, and be within each other’s workspaces, consider incorporating individual desk spaces, cubicles, or plexiglass barriers that allow employees to see and hear each other but protect them from spreading germs.

Also consider touchless options such as key fobs to open doors, automatic sink, soap dispenser, and dryers, as well as automatic hand-sanitizer dispensers throughout the office.

3. Encourage a stay home policy when sick

In order to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 among employees, sick leave policies, company culture, and health education are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of any disease.

It is however important to keep in mind that employees will only stay home if they feel comfortable doing so. Educating your employees about workplace health and safety protocols won’t be enough if your company culture makes it taboo to take sick leave. Make sure employees feel comfortable reaching out for advice, and encourage staying home and resting when they feel unwell.

Implementing a new policy that allows employees to have a grace period on non-paid sick leave, along with regular sick leave will express your concern for their health and well-being. By prioritizing health first, you will not only ensure a safe work environment for your employees but also let them know that you value them.

4. Adopt a Management Software

As an organization that has 100 or more employees, keeping track of each employee’s health status is important for maintaining compliance with new OSHA rules. From keeping a record of each employee that has been vaccinated, updating records, weekly COVID-19 testing for those who have not taken the vaccine, and managing symptoms to keep your office environment safe and healthy all while remaining HIPAA compliant–there is much to juggle.

Finding the right management software that will house all COVID-19 data in one place will simplify most of the day-to-day pandemic-related responsibilities and allow you to concentrate on other aspects of human resources.

If you are looking for management software to keep track of your employee testing and vaccinations, monitor symptoms, provide administrator reporting through a member dashboard where both administrators and employees can access COVID-19 test results through HIPAA compliant software, connect with Heed Health today.

Source: OSHA Issues COVID-19 Workplace Vaccine-or-Testing Mandate (shrm.org)