Now that OSHA has officially suspended the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS), businesses have more clarity about what will be required of them. But don’t get too comfortable – the 6th Circuit Court will hear a consolidated case soon, and legal experts expect the case to go to the Supreme Court before all is said and done. While there are many predictions, it remains unknown if the rules will be permanently abandoned.
Regardless of whether federal or state mandates could affect your business, the fact is that many employers are still only tentatively getting employees back in the office. The rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has delayed or stopped many re-opening plans. Even before Omicron, there was a lively debate playing out around the country on so-called “return to work.” And in cases where the majority of workers have come back – or never left – questions remain about how employers are ensuring that offices, factories, job sites, and other workplaces are safe.
In the current extremely tight labor market and the ongoing “great resignation,” employers need to be sensitive to employee concerns including those surrounding health and safety. Naturally each industry has its own rules, requirements, and culture; but for companies that need – or want – employees to work in person, simply ordering workers to come back is not likely to work.
Health and safety concerns continue to be near the top of the list of reasons why many workers don’t want to return to in person work. COVID is of top of mind, but there is strong evidence that far fewer people came down with illnesses like cold and flu when we all worked from home. For many of us, being around our colleagues is fun and stimulating, but perhaps unhealthy. Employees are certainly aware of this, and employers must take note.
Perhaps ironically, the suspension of vaccine mandates could be making employees more reluctant to come back to the office. Certainly, there is a set of employees who are happy – even relieved – that many companies are putting mandates on hold, but the higher likelihood of being exposed to unvaccinated colleagues is being cited a reason to stay remote.
Your Return-to-Work Plan
Returning to “normal” – whatever that is in 2022 – will not just happen on its own. Savvy business leaders and HR experts should be putting policies and programs in place now to ensure that all employees will feel confident about the safety of their workplace, whether they drop in occasionally or come in every day. When done right, this effort will help retain employees, and be a great recruiting tool as businesses look to expand.
There are many ways to approach this complex health and safety challenge. An employer-sponsored testing program should be an integral part of any COVID safety or return to the office plan. This plan should include policies, an employee consent mechanism, a clear communications strategy, and of course an easy and flexible weekly testing program.
In future articles we will explore elements of a successful employee testing program, touch on why it makes sense for employers to take on this responsibility and explain how euverita can help make it an easy decision by taking the load off of your HR and safety teams with our turnkey solutions. And returning to the where we started – we’ll discuss how euverita can help address mandate related questions if and when they do come up. Finally, as a bonus, we’ll dig into how expanding mobile and on-site testing beyond COVID-19 can be a net plus and significant benefit to both employer and employee.
If you’d like to explore euverita’s turnkey employer testing solutions for COVID-19 and beyond, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (612) 448-2690.