No one was expecting this year to be as challenging as it has been. The rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the way people live and work. Even with several vaccine candidates on the verge of gaining emergency-use approval from the FDA, it may be awhile before the vaccines are widely available and administered, which seems to be the precursor for returning to some form of normal. So, what does that mean for employers as they navigate the rest of the year? Here are three trends to watch:
1. Employers need better access to data
The importance of easy access to accurate data has taken center stage during this pandemic. Good data is essential for all levels of government, health systems, schools, religious organizations and even employers as they make informed decisions that help keep people safe, and many organizations scrambled to figure out how to collect, manage and report on all types of data relating to COVID-19.
Many of our large employer clients determined early on that they needed visibility into employee symptom monitoring data, and we were able to quickly make refinements to Enterprise Health functionality to enable them to collect this information. Most are requiring employees to self-report by completing online questionnaires before each work shift. Responses then feed into the Enterprise Health and are used to inform onsite clinic personnel of potential risks and the need for self-quarantine or follow-up care. The data is also used to plan and implement prevention practices.
2. Work-from-home will bleed into 2021
Many employers who sent workers home in the beginning of the pandemic have recently announced plans to keep employees working from home through the end of the year. Others have extended through next summer. The ramifications of this long-term work-from-home situation run deep for organizations and include many new challenges for onsite health clinics as they work to manage the health and wellness of remote employees. There is a growing need for better ways to maintain contact with employees who may not return to the work site any time soon. Employee portals and telehealth capabilities have become increasingly important and popular tools.
3. Travel continues to complicate return to work
The holidays are coming, which traditionally means lots of travel. There are still many questions pertaining to when people will begin to feel safe going to grandma's house in another state or when employees will attend conferences, trade shows or travel for in-person meetings, and employers will need to establish guidelines for how to handle both personal and work-related travel.
Employers' ability to track and monitor employee travel will become a significant factor in getting a handle on this ever-changing situation. Many employers are depending on their employees to self-report travel information in the same way they are requiring employees to report COVID-19 symptoms — usually through the completion of questionnaires. As your organization sets new policies for employee travel during the holiday season, reference this Guide for Employee Travel Guide During a Pandemic for answers to some of the most common employee travel questions.
As we all grapple with what the new normal will be, one thing is sure — employers must remain flexible and continue to adapt to the ever-changing conditions as they develop and modify plans and procedures to help ensure the safety of their employees.
Contact us today to learn more about how Enterprise Health can help your organization tackle these challenges and prepare for 2021.