The importance of keeping a strong and healthy workforce has been reinforced by the pandemic. While remote employment has been prevalent during the pandemic, more businesses are now recognizing the importance of some in-person attendance and a true hybrid model.
Earlier in the pandemic, externally imposed vaccination and testing mandates were imposed to keep employees healthy during their in-person time. Currently, these mandates have largely disappeared but the challenges to keep the workforces healthy remains.
Today, COVID rates have been rising again while influenza, RSV, and common colds are starting to appear in the public. Even in a hybrid setting, potential for calamitous spread of illnesses that could cripple productivity exist. Currently, masking in public places and workplaces has become the exception rather than the norm. Vaccination and booster rates for COVID and influenza have also been neglected by employers.
Limiting the in-person nature of work that may prevent worker to worker communicable disease is not often possible. Many industries require actual presence of workers like manufacturing, retail, public venues, cleaning personnel, and countless others. In many professional capacities, education, mentorship, and collaboration remain strong workplace goals and require some element of in person presence. Additionally, less time together decreased company loyalty and brand identification while fostering quiet quitting.
Other health disturbances have increased in the pandemic. Long COVID symptoms have affected millions of American workers. Sedentary lifestyles and missed medical care during lockdowns have reduced the quality of baseline health. Mental health illnesses from loneliness, depression, and loss of loved ones have flourished during the last several years.
To optimize their business objectives, organizations will need to take on the burden of improving and managing employee health more seriously. Businesses have to support ways to minimize respiratory illnesses and preventable sick days. Employers should screen for wellness and sound mental health while undertaking measures to better their employees in these areas.
The companies that take employee health seriously will be rewarded with:
Less discontinuity in their standard workflows
More productive valuable employees who respect the company and its values
Retain and recruit in a manner superior to their peers
Businesses that do not recognize the value of employee health will likely be forced to manage disruptions, unwanted employee absences, and a deviation from overall company goals.