While it's strategically smart for leaders to consider implementing health checks in the workplace, make sure you recognize and avoid the potential risks. Here's what you need to know beforehand.
Health checks are an essential part of reducing the spread of COVID-19, but you need to know about the risks and understand the privacy and discrimination concerns surrounding them. This is an important topic for leaders today, so we're breaking down the answers to your biggest health screening questions.
During the pandemic, increased public health and safety measures became commonplace. There have been quarantine mandates, regulations over which businesses were considered essential, and varying restrictions at the state and local levels.
But when it comes to bringing people back into your workplace, how should you ensure the safety of all those who enter your doors? How will your visitors and employees be impacted by new policies for coming into the office?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidelines for employers outlining how to implement health and wellness checks in the workplace without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws enforced by the EEOC.
Here's what EEOC says about employers conducting health screenings:
During the early days of recovery, returning businesses began checking temperatures, requiring masks, reducing occupancy, increasing physical distance, and tightening up their sanitization protocols. As more and more places reopened — places like grocery stores, restaurants, and public buildings — they relied on these precautions to keep staff and customers safe.
For many, the initial transition was pretty jarring. Over the course of the pandemic, we've adjusted to our new reality. Now, we're used to grabbing our face coverings before walking out the door. We know to wash our hands more frequently or stock up on hand sanitizer. Your team is used to virtual meetings and working from home.
When you reopen, there will be some level of adjustment as employees get accustomed to being back in the office and having new requirements to follow.
Few people could have imagined the length of the pandemic, or the stressors it would introduce into every day life.
Around the world, mental health is suffering. A global survey on mental health indicated more than 70% of respondents had greater than moderate levels of stress with nearly 3 in 5 people meeting the criteria for "clinically significant anxiety".
In the United States, other research found similar results. In Stress in America ™ 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis, the American Psychological Association (APA) found the Coronavirus to be a significant source of stress in nearly 80% of adults. And for many, it seems to be getting worse over time: 67% say the stress they've experienced has increased over the course of the pandemic.
4 in 5 adults in the U.S. say the pandemic is a significant source of stress (APA)
Implementing health and wellness checks
We're approaching the conclusion of the year-long technological experiment that resulted from the Coronavirus.
As we come back to the physical workplace, it won't be quite the same as when we left it. This marks the end of an era for traditional office-based work and a beginning of new ways of working together.
Are you ready for it?
Here's what it'll take to implement a successful health and wellness check as part of your return-to-office plan.
To help employees feel safe in the workplace, reassure them that you're taking risks seriously. It's important to keep the communication open, transparent, and sincere. Start revisiting your visitor policy (this free template makes it easy) and redefine how your office works in the future.
As you develop new policies and safety procedures, give employees a voice and make sure they feel heard. Lip service doesn't just breed distrust with employees, it can damage your reputation with customers. In fact, people are more likely to buy from companies that act responsibly, according Ipso's Global Trends 2020 report. Any level of distrust in today's volatile landscape might cause long-term damage.
The real value of coming to the office is in face-to-face collaboration, which is often a catalyst for creativity and helps people bond with their colleagues. When you have that kind of environment, it results in greater individual contributions, better team performance, and a more well-connected company culture.
Whether it's on a full-time basis or involves a more flexible arrangement, more companies will soon reopen their doors. We're getting closer to the day where meetings can happen in person again — where micro-expressions and body language provide more context and you can't accidentally mute yourself. And your employees are looking forward to it.
However, before you return to work, you need to have an effective strategy in place. Communication is key here; your workforce wants to know you're actively working to reduce any potential exposures in the office. Otherwise, they might think twice before opting to come into the office.
Your response today will have lasting implications for how potential employees — and customers — view your company.
Ensure your success by picking a solution that helps make your return easy to manage.
With LobbyConnect, you can customize questions for your employees and visitors to answer to make sure they haven't experienced symptoms of COVID-19 recently. You can also ask them to sign a custom contract, verifying they haven't recently tested positive for the virus.
Here's how Teem's technology eases your check-in process and supports your return:
Soon, you'll also be able to use Teem's mobile app for employee health questionnaires.
That way, an employee who wants to work from the office can complete a wellness check during their commute to work or from home — from their own device. Mobile screening makes coming into work a better experience for employees, and lets you gauge their health before they even enter the office. We'll share more about this new feature soon, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, learn how Teem's Return-to-Office Starter Kit can help your return plans.
Please note: Information regarding COVID-19 in this article may depend on your location and specific circumstances. We encourage you to do your research, discuss your situation with your company's HR and legal teams, and rely on guidance from your local public health authorities.