As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into 2022, companies and employees are facing unprecedented challenges.
While some workers, especially those in health care and education, have expressed concerns and filed complaints or lawsuits pertaining to mask and vaccine mandates and other measures, the fact is most employers are trying to put measures in place to keep employees safe. As to how this can be accomplished, here are some methods that have proven to be effective.
Offer Working from Home
Since the pandemic started, many workers have found themselves performing duties remotely from their homes. In workplaces where this can be done, it can play a vital role in not only keeping workers safe, but also help in containing the spread of the virus, especially to those individuals who may be at high risk.
Install New Ventilation Systems
In many businesses, the installation of new ventilation systems has become a reality to help air circulate better throughout an office, store, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, these ventilation systems are not cheap to install, placing even more strain on the finances of businesses that may already be struggling. If you are considering this for your business and have financial concerns, discuss the matter with your CPA prior to beginning the project.
Ensure Customer Compliance
While some customers may object to wearing a mask, maintaining a safe distance from others, having to be vaccinated prior to entering a business, and other protocols that may be in place at various businesses, ensuring the majority of them comply with current protocols is vital to keeping your employees safe during the pandemic. By having clear policies in place, making no exceptions, and backing up your employees when objections are raised, you should find most customers are more than willing to do their part to stop the spread.
Encourage Use of Sick Leave
If employees are displaying even minimal symptoms of COVID-19, it is best they stay home rather than come in to work. To make this easier on your employees, encourage the use of sick leave when applicable. Also, you as the employer may want to consider expanding sick leave benefits to employees who it may not apply to under normal conditions. If you choose to do so, you may want to consult with your CPA as to how any changes in benefits may impact the bottom line of your business.
Provide Personal Protective Equipment
If you own a restaurant, retail store, or have a medical or dental practice, one of the best ways your employees can be protected from COVID-19 is to give them an ample supply of PPE. This should include masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other related items. Since it is almost impossible for some employees to avoid close contact with others, especially in health care settings, having enough PPE for these employees will be a smart investment on your part.
Clean and Disinfect
Depending on the nature of your business, you should make cleaning and disinfecting a top priority on a daily basis. While you can do some things yourself, such as wiping down countertops, desks, tables, and equipment, you may want to consider hiring professional cleaners to perform state-of-the-art disinfection of your office, store, or other facilities on a regular basis. Since this will be yet another added expense in your company budget, have regular discussions with your CPA to understand the financial impact of taking such measures.
Encourage Social Distancing
Though it is inconvenient, maintaining a social distance of at least six feet from others has still been shown to be perhaps the most effective way to keep the virus from spreading. However, if you own a restaurant or have a large staff within an office, this presents numerous challenges logistically. From moving customers to outdoor dining to requiring more workspace for office employees, these and other measures ultimately cost your business time and money, which is why you will need to rely on the advice of your CPA to keep your business profitable in the days ahead.
If you have employees who have been hesitant to get a vaccination or have trouble finding the time to do so, holding a vaccination clinic at your workplace can be a great way to keep employees safe. In addition, it also demonstrates how your business and employees are committed to the local community. By partnering with your local health department or hospital, you can help your employees and other community members gain protection from the virus.
Offer Temperature Checks and Symptom Screenings
Unfortunately, many people who have the virus may not be aware they have it, much less that they are spreading it to everyone with whom they come into contact. To keep your employees safe, you may want to consider implementing temperature checks and symptom screenings on a daily basis. From checking temperatures on an employee’s arrival at work to having your company nurse perform symptom screenings, taking these steps can prove important in helping to get your workplace back to normal sooner rather than later.
Encourage Hand Washing
While it sounds simple, encouraging hand washing among your employees is one of the easiest things that can be done to keep them safe. In addition, you may want to also discourage traditional handshaking, instead opting for an elbow bump or perhaps waving at one another while being six feet apart. Depending on your workspace, you may need to create more areas that make hand washing easy and convenient. Should any renovations large or small need to be made, go over the financial details with your CPA to know how this will fit into your budget.
With the added expenses that have resulted from the pandemic, you and many other business owners may be pulling out your hair day after day in frustration. However, it is important to remember that the pandemic will eventually end. When it does, you want to make sure your business is well-positioned financially. To ensure this happens, work closely with your CPA as you move forward in keeping your employees safe.