The Coronavirus outbreak has left the employers in a tough spot, as they need to prepare themselves for any possible attacks amongst their staff or employees
Fremont, CA: In work environments, it is the employers' responsibility to make sure that the potential disruption of business continuity is minimized from any possible epidemics such as the recent outbreak of coronavirus or CORONAVID-19. But, they also need to ensure that their staff is protected from a health and safety perspective.
Large employers, especially those in the market for business-critical services, experienced the same disruption during previous pandemics such as the SARS and the avian flu outbreaks in the 2000s. Those employers who were proactive about the health and safety of employees developed a pragmatic, business-wide approach and provided necessary instructions about the situation. Because they did so, the employers fared significantly better in minimizing any negative impact.
Being proactive helps to alleviate fears, specifically from an HR perspective, allowing to set the right boundaries for staff members. It is known that the death toll of coronavirus till now has exceeded that of SARS in mainland China.
• Assure employees by announcing that the company is aware of the situation.
• Explain the precautionary measures executed by the employer and give an example, such as briefing about coronavirus, its signs, and symptoms.
• Make sure that any employee traveling to areas with higher concentrations of the virus informs the HR and agrees for a plan to manage it. Give the staff a clear and unbiased official guidance.
• Send the staff emails and reminders to take a common-sense approach. The employee must inform the HR if they have visited any of the hotspots. Otherwise, the workforce should continue to function from home. The workforce should continue to function as usual, and business policies on working from home, and sickness absence must be followed.
• Allot a pivotal person to provide help for the staff to contact on the field if they have any queries. (It is ideally an HR manager).
It is sensible for HR managers to take practical steps to ensure that a sound remote working system is in place, just in case of outbreaks. Managers should undergo training and guidance on best practices in situations such as the outbreaks and centrally monitoring the absence levels to detect unusual patterns.
Beware of ethnic discrimination
Another main consequence of the regional outbreaks like coronavirus is the prejudice towards those with Chinese origin, heritage, or family members. There have been reports of cases where racial discrimination and xenophobic slogans such as "No Chinese" and "Chinese tourists out" are detected in various places in the country.
HR managers should be aware of the potential for discrimination at work along the same lines, even if this is a genuine misunderstanding of the outbreak or a misguided joke. There should be a zero-tolerance policy on any negative or hostile comments, and the HR managers should solve this concern immediately.
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