We all know that we need to modify the way we work to adapt in the wake of COVID-19. One of the main changes businesses are exploring is daily employee health screenings.
Health screenings help employers protect their teams and ongoing work by keeping coronavirus out of their offices. However, many employers aren’t sure how to roll out a program or approach communicating with their team about the transition toward workplace COVID screenings.
In this post we’ll:
- Describe what an effective COVID-19 employee screening program looks like
- Explain what employees need to know about your new health screening procedures
- Provide a memo template you can use to communicate with your employees in a way that explains your program and builds buy-in
- Connect you with more resources to simplify and strengthen your return-to-work plan
What Strong COVID-19 Screening at Work Looks Like
A Clear Team & Point of Contact
COVID-19 screening should be conducted by a designated professional or team with strong knowledge of CDC guidance on COVID-19 symptomology and prevention. Those professionals must be protected with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, and potentially face shields, to protect their own health and minimize their potential as vectors for the employees they’re screening.
Employees should be checked for temperatures upon arrival at work and sent home if they exhibit fevers of 100.4 °F or higher.
How do we capture temperatures in a safe, compliant way?
Temperature checks should be carried out with a touchless temporal thermometer and avoid direct skin contact to minimize potential spread of the COVID-19 virus and other germs.
Respiratory Health Screening Questions
In addition to checking temperatures, your screening team should have each employee complete a short questionnaire describing their current respiratory health with an eye towards identifying red flags.
This guide from the Department of Health provides guidelines for which symptoms should be included in a COVID-19 employee health screening, including providing a model questionnaire.
What Employees Need to Know About Workplace COVID-19 Screening
Of course, the final piece of a great implementation plan is a strong employee communication strategy. When you’re communicating with you team effectively, it fosters engagement and helps your employees see that you’re focused on safety and taking steps to reopen with everybody’s health in mind.
Before you reopen with your new workplace health screening system in place, you need to contact your team through whatever official channels you’ve been using during your temporary shutdown or remote work to alert them that screenings will be taking place upon your reopen and providing them with the information they need to comply with and feel comfortable with this new procedure.
Below, we’ll provide a memo template we’ve built to help businesses simplify this process. First, though, let’s talk about what information your employees absolutely need to know to reduce return-to-work anxiety and ensure your workplace reopen is a success.
Why You’re Screening Employees at Work
To some people, lining up for a health inspection as you head into work sounds like something from a dystopian science fiction novel. You need to set a positive tone and help your employees understand that these new procedures are for their health and wellness, not simply the wellbeing and liability of the company.
The better you can explain your rationale for new health screening protocols in a humanistic, talent-centric way, the better you’ll be able to win buy-in.
When/Where Screening Will Occur
Before your reopen occurs, employees need to know how to comply with the new COVID-19 screening protocols. That means you they need to know when and how often screenings occur, where to go, and who to make contact with.
Remember, you can only expect compliance and enthusiasm about your new procedures when you’ve made the effort to communicate. If people show up to work and see a line they’re not expecting, it’s a recipe for disharmony and frustration.
What the Screening Entails
Nobody likes to go into any kind of “test” without knowing the expectations. Your health screening procedure needs to be clear and transparent for employees ahead of time to reduce anxiety.
What kind of questions will they need to answer?
Your employees should know the respiratory screening questions they’ll be asked ahead of time to ensure they understand what they’re being asked and have the opportunity to ask questions about interpretation of either your HR team or their own personal healthcare professional.
How will temperature checks work?
No one likes the idea of being poked or prodded, especially with a potentially virus-covered tool. By ensuring your employees you’ll be monitoring their temperature using no-touch tools and will have screeners use PPE in a way that aligns with best practices, you can minimize anxiety about the physical aspects of the health screening.
Launchways’ Employee Health Screening Memo Template
How to Use This Tool
The following template provides a basic form letter you can modify to inform employees of your new COVID-19 screening protocols. Keep in mind you’ll need to make some modifications to this memo, including:
- Adding your company’s name
- Clarifying the effective date for screenings
- Specifying the location for screenings
- Communicating who will carry out the screenings
- Establishing a point of contact for questions/concerns about this process
Memo: COVID-19 Employee-Screening Procedures
Effective [date], all employees reporting to work will be screened for respiratory symptoms and have their body temperature taken as a precautionary measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Every employee will be screened, including having his or her temperature taken, when reporting to work. Employees should report to [location] upon arrival at work and prior to entering any other areas of [company name] property.
Each employee will be screened privately by [insert name or position] using a touchless forehead/ temporal artery thermometer. The employee’s temperature and answers to respiratory symptom questions will be documented, and the record will be maintained as a private medical record.
Time spent waiting for the health screening should be recorded as time worked for nonexempt employees.
An employee who has a fever at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or who is experiencing coughing or shortness of breath will be sent home. The employee should monitor his or her symptoms and call a doctor or use telemedicine if concerned about the symptoms.
An employee sent home can return to work when:
- He or she has had no fever for at least three (3) days without taking medication to reduce fever during that time; AND
- Any respiratory symptoms (cough and shortness of breath) have improved for at least three (3) days; AND
- At least seven (7) days have passed since the symptoms began.
An employee may return to work earlier if a doctor confirms the cause of an employee’s fever or other symptoms is not COVID-19 and releases the employee to return to work in writing.
An employee who experiences fever and/or respiratory symptoms while home should not report to work. Instead, the employee should contact his or her immediate supervisor for further direction.
How to Learn More
If you’re an HR professional or business leader looking to guide a successful reopening as COVID-19 continues, be sure to download Launchways’ Complete Return to Work Toolkit. The toolkit provides a variety of checklists and other resources that help you consider reopening from every conceivable angle, including:
- Recalling furloughed or laid off employees
- Modifying your physical workspace
- Best practices for employee safety
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- New policies for meeting, communication, shared space, etc.
- When extending work-from-home is the better option