COVID-19 has had an irreparable and unparalleled impact on employers. The uncertainty, confusion, and skyrocketing number of cases throughout the country call for the utmost precaution.

Even with a greater understanding of the virus than was possible in the spring, employers can’t take the risk of community spread. Mass spread can put entire teams out of commission, not to mention keep customers from stepping through your company’s doors. 

To keep everyone safe and your business operational, use these methods to monitor employees for potential COVID-19 infection:

Automate Symptom Checks

Disruptive times spark innovation like nothing else. Instead of sitting on their hands, a number of entrepreneurs set out to help other companies through the pandemic.

One such creation is a COVID screening tool employers can use to determine whether any employees are displaying symptoms. Not only might employees be more honest in an app than to their boss’s face, but these tools are designed to keep protected health information private.

Don’t run the risk of a HIPAA violation. Employers cannot, by law, disclose an employee’s health details to others on the team or the media. Even accidental violations are taken seriously.

Issue Questionnaires

If not everyone on your team is tech-savvy, you can use simple surveys to check your employees for COVID-19. Ask questions pertaining to their recent activities and symptoms.

Questions should be concise and easy to answer. Vague or confusing ones won’t get you direct answers, which you need to determine whether or not an employee has COVID. Some examples include:

Do you have difficulty breathing?
Have you lost your sense of taste or smell?
Do you have a sore throat?
Did you attend a public gathering this week without a face covering?
Do you know anyone experiencing the symptoms mentioned above?

A survey that comes back with even one “yes” answer represents a risk. Send the team member home for the next two weeks. Encourage them to isolate themselves as best they can. 

Take Their Temperature

One COVID-19 symptom that employees may not be able to report themselves is a fever. Coughs, sore throats, and body aches — also common COVID-19 symptoms — don’t require a special tool to identify.

Make sure each employee’s temperate is checked at the start of their shift. If they’re a little too high, it’s best to send them home until it passes or they’re able to get tested.

Health experts recommend that anyone with a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher refrain from leaving their home. If any of your employees fall in that range, they shouldn’t be at the office.

Do Contact Tracing

Many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or simply haven’t fallen ill yet. To stop the spread as it happens, you need to participate in contact tracing. This will help determine whether any of your employees have recently come in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

To do proper contact tracing, err on the side of caution. If any of your workers experience symptoms or receive a positive test, contact a local health official. They’ll be able to help you conduct contact tracing in a noninvasive way that keeps employees and customers safe. Remember, HIPAA violations are no joke. 

Invest in Rapid Tests

There’s nothing more straightforward than a positive COVID-19 test result. This will show that your employees have COVID-19 and should isolate themselves for the next couple of weeks, making sure no one has to live in ambiguity. 

Tests, however, are also some of the most expensive COVID-prevention techniques out there. Invest in these screening tools only if you’re a high-risk employer, such as a nursing home or a childcare facility. If you’re a mechanic, you’re probably better off investing in symptom checkers and generous sick leave policies. 

Even if you fall into the high-risk category, you don’t need to test everyone every day. Weekly or monthly tests will be just fine. Be sure to test any employee who fears they may have come in contact with the virus.
Employers looking for ongoing testing options may want to consider rapid PCR testing in US cities with a medical service. These services come to your workplace to administer tests to all employees on an ongoing basis, helping catch an active case of the virus before it has a chance to spread.

Don’t Punish Sickness

Due to financial concerns, many people attend work each day even if they feel a little under the weather. A slight tickle in the throat or a minor cough might not be enough to convince an employee to stay home if their paycheck is on the line. 

Normal rules don’t work during abnormal times: It’s time to adjust your sick leave policy. Any employee who contracts COVID-19 needs to know that they won’t be putting any money in jeopardy or losing time off by doing so. A worker who feels compelled to work in spite of their sickness is a serious danger to the health of your entire team, not to mention that of your customers.

If you haven’t already, walk employees through signs that indicate they should call in sick. Praise people who have done the responsible thing by quarantining themselves after potential exposure. The onus is on leaders like you to make expectations clear.

Encourage Wellness Checks

When was the last time your employees went to the doctor? Before reopening your business, encourage each member of your team to pay a visit to their physician. 

Doctors will ask questions pertaining to COVID-19, as well as look for signs that an untrained eye might miss. Just as importantly, they will counsel employees who are at risk for serious illness. These employees should be getting extra sleep, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding high-risk situations. 

If someone on your team does get sick, you don’t want it to be a serious case. Not only do you care about your team members as human beings, but you can’t afford for them to be out sick for weeks at a time. And chances are, they can’t afford that, either. 

Be diligent in screening your employees for COVID-19. Your efforts will not only keep your business running, but they may also help save lives. Do your part to watch out for customers who aren’t feeling well, too; remember, we’re all in this together.