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Why Employers Who Prioritize Safety Will Win the War for Talent

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence and New York Times bestselling author of “Back to Human”, “Promote Yourself” and “Me 2.0”. Here, he talks about trends in contact tracing by employers during the pandemic.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to change nearly every aspect of our personal and working lives, worker safety, both for organizations who are looking to reopen and those that have remained open throughout the crisis, is taking center stage. My company partnered with Kronos to survey 3,903 workers globally in order to uncover perspectives, practices, and trends focused on Covid-19's impact on organizations.

The study found that 86 percent of workers are comfortable with varying degrees of employer-led contact tracing for the purpose of organizational safety. Almost half of the workers are either "very" or "a great deal" comfortable, as they are willing to sacrifice their data and privacy in exchange for a safer and healthier work experience.

Why workplace safety is now at the top of a job seekers criteria

Before Covid-19, people prioritized compensation, healthcare benefits, flexibility, and development opportunities when conducting a job search. While these factors are still at the top of the list of priorities for many a job search, "safety" has been prioritized during these times and will be in the future. In fact, 60 percent of those who worked in an office pre-Covid won't return until it feels safe and over 80 percent expect up-to-date information on cases and new safety procedures. Before applying for a job, people are conducting online searches to uncover an organization's safety procedures and understand how they are handling their back-to-work strategies. If an organization doesn't offer remote work or hasn't taken the necessary office precautions, a candidate is less likely to apply for a job there.

One study examined job seekers' criteria when evaluating an offer and found that that the "safety of the work environment" ranked ahead of "opportunities for professional growth" and "quality of potential coworkers".

How companies can make the workplace safer

SHRM investigated what companies are prioritizing when it comes to workplace safety. They found that almost all (97%) employers request employees to self-report their Covid-19 symptoms. In addition, many employers are requiring employees to wash their hands before entering offices (89%), enforcing spaced seating in common areas (85%), enforcing spaced seating in common areas (85%), reducing available seating in common areas (83%), implementing new contactless procedures (77%), requiring on-site medical screening (73%) and are adding touchless fixtures (68%).

Aside from these policies, a host of new technologies has surfaced to help make workplaces safer. Produced by companies like Amazon, PwC, and Kronos, these technologies are helping to operationalize suggested safety measures.

For example, Amazon's “Distance Assistant" uses the latest artificial intelligence combined with cameras to alert workers when they are fewer than six feet apart from each other using a 50-inch monitor. PwC has released three different technology tools to help their clients, and their workers, feel safer at work. First, the “CoronaManager” app uses Bluetooth handshakes and geofencing for contact tracing to keep track of employee health status and share personalized and localized health news. Second, the “ConTra Contact Tracer” uses Bluetooth to provide social distancing reminders and data analytics for all types of institutions and workplaces. Third, their “Check-In” platform provides contact tracing by collecting proximity information and notifying workers when they've been in contact with an at-risk teammate. Different from Amazon and PwC, Kronos offers the “Kronos Employee Contact Tracing Tool”, which uses data from employee time and attendance entries to identify potential contacts who were working at an identified location at the same time as an affected employee.

These companies and others, have taken the lead from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and created solutions that will ease workers' anxiety as they return to their offices. Since we are all more adept at using technology now, these tools seamlessly integrate into our work lives and provide the information we need when we need it to make better decisions. In this way, technology is pivotal to ensuring that every worker is equipped with a protective solution that promotes safety and security.

The safest companies will dominate the future of work

Safety is the main ingredient that will forge trust between employers and employees during this crisis and in its' aftermath. This isn't the first or last pandemic we will experience, and the more trust a company, and its leadership, build during a crisis, the easier it will be to retain employees and build customer loyalty for the future. Safety is quickly becoming a powerful recruiting and retention tool. If companies want to remain competitive, they can't avoid safety measures and must remember that their employees' safety is at the core of their business.

This post was excerpted from a longer article originally published on LinkedIn.

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