By Terri Mock, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Rave Mobile Safety:
Corporate safety has evolved significantly over the past 20 years. Going back to 2001, the 9/11 attacks inspired a new, more robust approach to corporate safety—many organizations began requiring people to check in or prove their identities before entering workspaces. Today, corporate safety practices are evolving again as employers attempt to balance reopening goals with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid so much uncertainty, the burden is on companies to figure out how to keep people healthy and safe.
The obvious challenge is that there is no one-size-fits-all playbook for leaders to follow. Return-to-work plans differ significantly depending on various factors surrounding the business, such as how it operates, where it’s located and what employees prefer. Adding complexity to the issue is the fact that many employees aren’t even aware of their employers’ emergency plans for certain situations, including active shooter incidents, other forms of workplace violence and cyberattacks. A recent 2021 survey report about workplace safety and preparedness found that one-third of respondents fell into this category, which means employers have a lot of educating to do this fall.
Given the many variables at play, corporate leaders have to go back to the drawing board, and rethink whether existing policies, procedures and technology are well-suited to address modern workplace threats. In any crisis, employees should know how to respond and what actions they should take to protect themselves and other coworkers.
Below are three areas where businesses need to reassess their corporate safety practices as they prioritize employee safety this fall.
Take Steps to Relieve Employee Anxiety
One way to alleviate anxieties about returning to work is to implement daily health checks, especially in areas where COVID-19 cases are high. While some people are excited to work alongside peers again, many still have anxieties about being in confined spaces with colleagues for extended periods. In addition to mandating daily health checks, employers can invest in on-site mental health support and resources. Having professionals available to counsel concerned employees can go a long way toward reducing stress in the office.
Another way to dispel anxiety is to encourage the use of mobile-friendly personal safety apps. These apps provide an effective way for employers to conduct surveys, gather feedback and share updates related to workplace safety. They also provide a channel for employees to share tips anonymously, which can be useful for reporting non-compliance with in-office safety mandates. Additionally, engaging employees with a personal safety app may be more effective than communicating through the avalanche of internal emails flooding inboxes when it comes to actually getting recipients’ attention.
Re-evaluate Safety Protocols
Employers today should also re-evaluate their safety protocols and make updates to address any changes from the last year. For example, companies that allow hybrid or remote work should review their cybersecurity infrastructure, update their floor plans and ensure all people understand what to do in the event of an emergency, even if they come into the office infrequently.
Given the impact of the past 18 months on mental health, employers should consider making specific investments to reduce the risk and potential impact of workplace violence. Personal safety apps can be useful in this area, doubling as mobile panic buttons for alerting security personnel and first responders instantly in the event of an emergency. Giving employees a way to directly and immediately report issues to security teams or emergency responders is just one way employers can be intentional about safeguarding their spaces.
Update Critical Communication Systems
Employers need to keep employees informed about office policies and real-time emergencies, regardless of where they work. For many organizations, this might include updating communication systems to reach remote and hybrid workers at home, in the office and on the road with critical information.
Any communication platform for disseminating information broadly via automated phone calls, emails, SMS or desktop alerts should be performant and reliable, even under stress. They should also allow for two-way communication so that employees can share information back with authorities about emergencies as they unfold. Personal safety apps are a viable way for employers to push out vital information and empower people to participate in emergency response efforts.
The overarching takeaway is that employers must be intentional about re-evaluating and updating safety protocols this fall in light of how much COVID-19 has changed corporate safety. In general, employees are no longer passive bystanders who care little about their employer’s safety protocols and emergency procedures. They now expect leaders to make thoughtful changes that account for today’s biggest stressors, threats and concerns.
Learn more at Rave Mobile Safety.