Features | July 29, 2020
Managing Coronavirus Fears in the Workplace
Printing businesses are keenly aware that employees are looking for assurance that workplaces are safe from the coronavirus — and they are turning to new software apps designed to mitigate those fears.
Essentially, the apps offer printing businesses the ability to keep track of the health status of every employee and make quick moves should a specific employee suddenly be stricken with the virus.
Some apps focus solely on offering contact tracing in workplaces hit by a new case of COVID-19. But others go much further, offering a complete management solution for dealing with the virus and its impacts on the printing workplace.
“The No. 1 focus of employers right now should be employee engagement,” says Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting.
“That means understanding at the most granular level employee sentiment about COVID-19, their challenges returning to the workplace and how to keep the workforce safe — and then taking action to address employee feedback,” Jezior says.
Some of the new apps — including Kokomo COVID19Tracker and SafetyTek COVID-19 Workforce Health Analysis — are completely free, standalone software packages that offer printing businesses a quick way to immediately address employee concerns.
Other apps are free as add-ons to much more comprehensive workplace management software packages.
That means you’ll be able to use the coronavirus app for free if you happen to be a user of that software, or you’re looking to try out that software for the first time and can score a free trial deal with the maker. Other apps are standalone but come with a price tag.
No matter which solution printing employers choose for their workplaces, it’s very clear that employees are going to be looking to their employers to protect their health at work.
Specifically, 55% of employees said they are counting on employers to mandate workers with coronavirus symptoms to stay home, according to an April 2020 survey of 1,000 U.S.-based employees by Jezior’s Eagle Hill Consulting.
Moreover, 53% of employees surveyed said they are looking for employers to make coronavirus tests readily available at the workplace.
Forty-four percent of workers said complete transparency and open communication will be crucial in the age of the coronavirus; 42% are looking for the ability to work remotely if need be; and 41% are looking for employee wellness efforts.
“Today, more than ever, it’s critical that employers prioritize employee wellness by engaging and caring for their people,” says David Ossip, chairman and CEO of Ceridian, a provider of workforce management software that’s offering a free coronavirus add-on for its system.
Here’s a representative sampling of the coronavirus workplace management systems currently available that printing firms can evaluate:
Kokomo’s cloud-based software (free, standalone) is basically a contact tracing solution that enables employers to track employee health and notify those who have been in recent contact with another employee suddenly stricken by the coronavirus. It offers tools for collecting, tracking, notifying and managing coronavirus cases that pop up at work and at home.
Employees who sign up for the program need to know that the information they offer the system will be accessible to both employers and public health authorities. The primary purpose of the system is to offer free coronavirus contact tracing for employers and public health authorities.
Workers voluntarily use the system by adding data regarding their coronavirus state (negative or positive) and then updating that info as necessary, including when a positive case of the virus becomes a “cured” case. Data can be input via PC or smartphone.
One bonus: The system uses artificial intelligence to gauge the probability of reported cases needing “proactive intervention” from either workplace managers or public health authorities. One of the great communication benefits of the Kokomo Tracker is its ability to automatically notify appropriate people — including workplace managers and health authorities — about important coronavirus case updates, using email, text and/or voice calls.
This free, standalone solution is offered by a firm that offers cloud-based software for monitoring and managing on-the-job safety.
“We’re making this solution free because we strongly believe that every company should have access to all the tools available to ensure their team’s health and safety,” says Ryan Quiring, CEO of Safety Tek.
Printing business workers can use the app by updating their coronavirus status daily via smartphone. The resulting data offers human resource department heads, managers, safety officers and related leaders regular, updated insight into workers who are available to work on-site or from home.
The software also offers employees the ability to compare their current health against common symptoms of COVID-19 and help them determine if they’re at risk for infection.
Within the system, managers have an easy way to quickly distribute workplace and government-generated news reports regarding the coronavirus via email, text and/or voice. Managers also have access to the system’s data via smartphone. That makes it very easy for them to discern who can work on-site, who needs to continue to telecommute and who needs to be monitored as they wrestle with the coronavirus.
PWC’s Check-In (standalone software) offers employers the ability to closely track the movements of employees and ensures easy tracing of those who have come in contact with a colleague who has suddenly contracted the coronavirus.
Tracking of employees’ smartphones, which occurs only when they’re at the workplace, is handled via Bluetooth or WiFi. The app is designed to enable managers to quickly intervene when a new coronavirus case pops up. It also ensures that workplace disruption will be limited to other employees who have had recent contact with a staffer who suddenly tests positive for the coronavirus.
This app comes as a free add-on for Dayforce users and integrates into the much larger Dayforce workforce management system, which offers tools for human resources, payroll, benefits distribution and the like. It enables employers to monitor the coronavirus status of all employees whether they are at work, at home or traveling. It also enables managers to quickly notify employees who have been exposed to a colleague who suddenly tests positive for the coronavirus.
This cloud-based system (standalone, starts at $5,000 per month) enables the IT department for your printing business to build a coronavirus response management hub with minimal coding, according to Appian. Some hubs can be up and running in about two hours, according to the software company. The system offers an “enterprise command center” for monitoring employee health, location and possible exposure.
Key features include:
- A unified command center, which key company officers can use to manage the health and work status of all employees in real time through a single interface
- Fast, easy workforce screening, which enables employees to update their personal health and risk data via PC or smartphone
- Intelligent return-to-work certification, which enables a printing business to define internal policy rules regarding return-to-work certifications
- Support for phased return-to-work, which offers a blueprint for enabling the automation of a phased or rotating approach for an employee’s return to the workplace
- Fast issue resolution, which enables HR to use built-in case management tools to make workplace policy exceptions and handle unusual employee appeals or concerns regarding the coronavirus
- Privacy and security, which is offered by the Appian HIPAA-compliant cloud
- Availability in multiple languages, including English, Italian, Spanish, German and French, with the ability to expand to other languages
This tracker is an add-on module for the Pegasystems cloud software for internal business management and customer engagement. As with most other coronavirus tracking systems, printing business employees enter their data into this tracker by responding to a short set of risk assessment questions. Those responses trigger a series of automated actions on the software’s dashboard, which helps businesses auto-manage the coronavirus.
“With the state of the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolving, Pega quickly developed this app to help our clients ensure the well-being of their employees and customers, while also helping to mitigate their business risks,” says Alan Trefler, CEO of Pegasystems.
Automated actions can be customized within the system to reflect a specific business’ unique policy on the coronavirus. Customizable actions built into the system include:
- Analyzing employees’ risk levels (high, medium or low) based on screening questions
- Sending tailored instructions to an affected employee based on risk level
- Alerting applicable managers and HR on newly assessed employees
- Generating checklists for HR managers with actions for affected employees
- Estimating the likely return-to-work date for employees
- Sending employees periodic reminders to update their COVID-19 health status
Users can also configure the Pega app and integrate it with other existing systems, including HR and scheduling.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. He can be reached by phone at 631-438-1142, his email at email@example.com or through his website at www.dysartnewsfeatures.com.
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