Preparing Your Employees for COVID-19: Best Practices for Small Business Owners
The novel coronavirus was identified in late 2019 and determined to be responsible for causing COVID-19, a contagious respiratory disease that can be fatal. By March 2020, nations around the globe were imposing lockdowns to try to control the spread of the virus. By the first week of April, over 40% of small businesses had closed their doors. Businesses that remained open provided essential services and included gas stations and grocery stores.
Some small businesses have stayed open, reopened since restrictions were lifted, or are preparing to reopen. Small business owners facing unprecedented challenges as they determine how to conduct business can use these strategies to prepare employees to serve customers safely.
Introduce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The novel coronavirus can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or contact with droplets expelled by an infected person. People expel these droplets when they speak, cough, or sneeze. Since the novel coronavirus is airborne, airborne precautions PPE are essential. PPE is designed to prevent people from coming in direct contact with infected persons or droplets. PPE providers, such as PPE Essential, provide masks, face shields, and disposable gloves designed to eliminate skin to skin or skin to droplet contact.
Prepare your staff by discussing how PPE works to protect people from infection. Explain the benefits to the people wearing the PPE and the people they come in contact with. Demonstrate how to wear PPE properly. Staff should understand the need to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose. It’s also essential that they learn how to remove disposable gloves safely.
Promote Social Distancing
Encourage staff to maintain a safe distance from customers and other employees whenever possible. Invest in routers to enable staff to increase the space between their work stations. Require staff who can perform tasks from home to work remotely. Video conferencing can be used to connect your remote team when necessary. Stagger work shifts to reduce the number of employees working on-site as much as possible.
Communication and Monitoring
Introduce a screening process before the start of each shift. Check with staff to see if they have any symptoms or if they have been in contact with anyone who has symptoms of the virus. You may also opt to take their temperature and monitor staff for symptoms throughout their shift.
Employees may be concerned they will lose their job and benefits if they are suspected of having the virus. One way to promote transparency is to explain steps you will take to secure their job. Learn what benefits are available for staff who need to take time off work to quarantine due to possible exposure. Calculate the potential costs of spreading the virus through your business. It will be less expensive to pay for testing, if necessary. Being identified as the source of an outbreak could be damaging to your business.
Businesses can use objectives and key results (OKR) software to establish company goals and identify how to determine those goals have been fulfilled. They provide a way for relevant team members to network and monitor progress online. A useful OKR tool can facilitate team communication without the need for in-person meetings. OKR software can also be used to create workplace health goals and encourage staff to comply with safety regulations.
Modify Your Facilities
Install plastic screens to protect cashiers and staff from being in direct contact with customers as much as possible. Screens can also be used to create a barrier between workstations.
Install touchless doors, taps, and toilets to reduce the need for people to have physical contact with handles and knobs. This will prevent people from touching a surface an infected person had contact with.
Have your ducts cleaned and replace the filter on your HVAC system regularly. Do not use recycled air in your workspace. Recycling the air increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus.