Service industries have always given attention to staff safety, ensuring team members are trained, have proper equipment, and consistently follow proper procedures for tasks that have the potential for injury – but COVID-19 takes the challenge of staff safety to another level. The recent surge in COVID-19 cases in various geographies has resulted in an increasing frequency of staff call outs due to COVID-19 exposure, setting off an additional set of issues, such as determining who else on the team might have exposed by working with those team members on previous shifts.
With no way of knowing how well team members comply with safety measures such as hand washing, wearing masks, and social distancing when they are not at work, an employers only option is to take steps to proactively check staff for symptoms, remove symptomatic team members from the schedule, and ensure they have methods for contact tracing in place so they can rapidly take action if an infected team member works a shift before they showed symptoms.
In a recent survey of frequent travelers conducted by UniFocus, almost 80% of respondents rated knowing that a hotel was pre-screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their shifts as “highly important”. This simple practice can increase confidence that the company is taking measures to protect both employees and customers.
Here are three steps you may not have implemented yet, which will make it easier for managers as they navigate through efforts to ensure the safety of staff and customers:
1. Enable Employees to Self-Report Symptoms
Requiring employees to self-check and attest that they are symptom-free before the start of a shift is an important step in helping staff take accountability for their part in keeping themselves and other team members safe. It may also serve as a reminder to take proper precautions when staff are in situations outside of work where they may become exposed to the virus. Enabling team members to use a mobile app to report via their personal smartphones gives staff the opportunity to report before leaving home if they are experiencing symptoms prior to a scheduled shift.
For UniFocus partners, this attestation functionality has been built into the UniFocus Mobile App and integrated with Scheduling in both LMS and Time & Attendance systems, making it much easier for managers to both assess and take necessary action to reschedule a team member who appears to be at risk of COVID-19 infection.
- Prior to each scheduled shift, team members are prompted via the app to respond to a survey regarding COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.
- If questions are not answered within the allotted time prior to a scheduled shift, managers are notified so they can call team members directly.
- When a team member’s responses indicate risk of COVID-19 infection, the system automatically generates a call-in and alerts the manager who can then immediately use the app to fill the shift
- Team members identified as at risk of COVID-19 infection are prohibited from clocking in at locations using the UniFocus Time & Attendance system
- The system will prevent further scheduling of team members identified as at-risk of COVID-19 infection until the manager approves and recertifies the employee in the system
2. Eliminate Physical Contact with Time Clocks and Other Shared Equipment
Taking steps to eliminate physical contact with shared equipment can be challenging. In some cases, such as with kitchen equipment needed by multiple team members, pre- and post-use cleaning protocols will be the only reasonable option. There are other places that can be addressed more readily. The employee time clock is one of those.
Time clocks present a situation where almost every employee working a shift touches the equipment in close proximity to each other. For UniFocus partners, there are affordable, easily implemented solutions that eliminate this issue: clocking in virtually using the UniFocus Mobile App, or using the recently announced Zero-Touch Time Clock solution.
3. Rapidly Trace Employee Contact When Staff Test Positive for COVID-19
When a team member tests positive or reports exposure to the COVID-19 virus, it is critical to be able to quickly identify other team members who may have been in contact with the affected employee since his or her exposure. Scheduling and Time & Attendance systems can provide access to valuable data to help with what can be a cumbersome process. UniFocus partners can immediately access the Employee Tracing Report, which identifies individuals who may have been in contact with another employee who has tested positive for Covid-19.
Based on the system modules used by the client, the report can identify several contact scenarios:
- Individuals who worked at the same time as the infected employee
- Individuals who worked in the same area during the potential carrier's shift – such as Hosts, Bussers, and Bartenders for the Lobby Bar
- Individuals who used the time clock after the potential carrier used the time clock
- Individuals who were on break and potentially in the cafeteria at the same time as the potential carrier
With the Contact Tracing Report, managers can quickly inform potentially affected staff and get their shifts covered while they quarantine and undergo testing, reducing the chances of exposure for other team members.
Although these actions may seem obvious to some, many businesses have not yet taken steps to have staff self-report symptoms prior to shifts, eliminate contact with shared time clocks, or ensure they have contact tracing available to support managers when staff have confirmed exposure to COVID-19. As you consider how you will implement these steps, ensure your solutions provide automation and other tools to reduce the workload on managers whose work has already increased in today’s environment.
Click here to download an info sheet about the UniFocus Staff Pre-Screening feature.