9 Ways To Lead Your Organization Through The Omicron Surge
The world is on high alert with the latest developments of the Covid-19 omicron variant. Organizations take a “cautious approach” on calling employees back to the office amid concerns of the spread of the infection. Several companies have postponed plans to reopen offices, while others have fewer in-office employees and reinstated stricter COVID-19 protocols. Citigroup, Apple, and Google all returned to remote work and hit pause on previous timelines of returning to the office.
Over the years from all the learning, employers are able to hone their strategies to keep infections in check as the virus mutates. Enterprises continue to be adaptive, flexible, and creative in their approaches, which can help contain the threat now and handle other future outbreaks.
Most companies have given employees a comprehensive health insurance policy along with cover for covid. With the majority of employees fully vaccinated, there is a sense of relief. Nonetheless, it’s essential to continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action, if necessary.
You can’t fix what’s unfixable, reverse how the virus affects your employees, or neutralize the pandemic. The good news is that you can support your team through what lies ahead. Look out for ways in which you can help your team cope and your organization be better prepared to get through this.
1. Encourage vaccination
Over the years, vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and disability, from tetanus to polio to influenza, and more. It’s the same for covid-19. From what we’ve learned, the vaccine is the best way to make workplaces safe from COVID-19 transmission. It prevents serious illness, hospitalization, or death from the virus.
According to the CDC, the chance of infection for those vaccinated is 6 times less. They’re 12 times less likely to be hospitalized, and 14 times less likely to pass due to the virus. Furthermore, if a vaccinated person develops symptomatic COVID-19 (breakthrough infection) the viral load is lower, making the chances of transmission much less.
2. Consider transmission rates in return-to-the-office decisions
The risk of the virus transmitting in the workplace is correlated with the infection rate in the community. Look at having employees returning from communities where the current weekly infection rate is low. The higher the infection rate, the more the chance of the virus spreading in the workplace.
Until we know more about omicron’s transmissibility and severity, companies must either pause returning to work or stagger the return. With both situations, it’s essential to incessantly survey the social climate and determine how to proceed further.
3. Reduce exposure through social distancing
Working remotely helps maintain adequate social distance. With the transition back to the workplace, you have to maintain distance, especially in commonly used areas like elevators, restrooms, break rooms, etc.
Consider spreading out the seating by adding decorative screens or potted plants as eye-pleasing natural distancing barriers. Repurpose the setting into smaller parts with fewer employees in each area. You can allot a department or a group of employees in a designated area. Think of holding meetings in open spaces instead of closed conference rooms.
4. Improve ventilation
Ensuring adequate ventilation throughout the work environment can help maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
To help minimize the risk of the airborne virus circulating in your work setting, open windows or doors and allow cross-flow of air. If there are ACs, change the setting so it doesn’t recirculate indoor air. Instead, set it to bring in 100% fresh air from outside. You can place fans near windows to enhance the airflow. Improve the quality of the air indoor with the help of air purifiers.
5. Decide when to recommend or require masks
One of the first lines of defense against COVID-19 is wearing a mask. It protects from both infecting others and being infected.
At the workplace, it’s recommended you wear your mask, whether you’re vaccinated or not, particularly in areas with high transmission. In areas where masks are difficult to wear like those with low ventilation or lower capacity, you can consider restricting numbers or not allowing unvaccinated employees to enter.
This safety measure of a mask is significant if you deal in the restaurant, retail, or service sector where you interact with a variety of people.
6. Have a defined isolation protocol, encourage testing, and communicate exposures
Once you’ve got the safety protocols in place, and you’ve set up the office, remember to also devise a plan when an employee falls ill or exhibits symptoms.
Keep isolation coordinators on standby who are suited up in PPE kits. They can work with the ill individual and coordinate with the local department. Don’t forget to sanitize areas where they’ve been.
To avoid such situations, ensure you regularly test the employees, especially the unvaccinated ones. If it’s not possible to get your hands on the rapid tests, due to availability issues, you can always take the normal test and follow up.
COVID-19 spreads quickly. It’s best to ensure you have communication protocols in place to alert employees regarding who has tested positive. This helps enforce contact tracing practices and stem any further potential transmission.
7. Be cautious about reinstating travel
Several organizations reinstated domestic and international travel. With the rise of omicron cases, now such travel is curtailed or stopped. There’s limited information about the variant and the international travel rules and regulations are continually changing. So, it’s best to steer clear of travel disruptions or the risk of quarantining. Plus, traveling in areas with high infection rates is perilous. Until the infection rates start slowing down, for the foreseeable future, it’s best to stick to remote work and teleconferences.
8. Support mental health and wellness
The pandemic has affected everyone. Some have been living with uncertainty and in turmoil, others watched people suffer or lost loved ones, while some suffered from loneliness or anxiety. For employees, there’s also burnout from the stress of juggling multiple things at once.
It’s a must for you to show your employees you understand they may be going through something and offer help whenever needed. Actively listen and help them connect with mental health or other resources if necessary. When you sign up with Loop Health’s group health insurance, you get a bunch of added benefits, including mental health and wellness sessions. Employees can make use of these sessions and support their mental health.
9. Stay current on the effectiveness of interventions
Things with COVID-19 are constantly developing. Hence, it’s essential to keep up to date with effective interventions to limit the spread of the virus. For instance, at the workplace, it’s important to sanitize surfaces and keep frequently touched areas disinfected to impede the virus. Similarly, you must follow other updates such as changes in vaccines like booster shots, quarantining guidelines, etc.
Here’s To A Better 2022
The last two years have been challenging and a period of much learning. What you’ve learned, like wearing masks, sanitizing, maintaining distance, sticking to open spaces, and other tools, are your best friend to inhibit the spread of the virus.
For now, patience is a virtue. Keep contingency plans in place like your lessons from the previous years, a strategy to ensure remote working continues to thrive, and more. But most of all, remain level-headed. Although there are several concerns revolving around the omicron variant, you get to remain better prepared through your learnings.
Along with this, you also have protection in the form of group health insurance. From pre and post-hospitalization cover to covid-19 cover to added benefits like mental health and wellness checks to dental and vision care, your team gets all-around protection and continuous support. By downloading the Loop app, you can be in constant touch with your medical advisor and seek different kinds of support.
So, with the power of knowledge and group health insurance, you can safeguard yourself and your employees.