Employees Set Bar High: Workplace Safety, Safe Commute, and Contact Tracing Non-negotiable

Organisational safety is paramount amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and transparent communication plays a critical role cites a recent global survey from Kronos Incorporated. Conducted in conjunction with Workplace Intelligence, the study finds that Indian workers underline safe commute to work (72%) and overall workplace sanitation & cleanliness (56%) as the primary risks involved in returning to work over the next 18 months. What is promising is that 55% of Indian employees believe that their employer has created a physically safe and healthy workplace environment.

Gregg Gordon, vice president, industry, Kronos, said, “Employees have demonstrated that they do have safety concerns in the workplace, but generally trust their employer to take care of them. This should signal to employers that they have a responsibility to step up and employ all methods necessary to protect workers physically and mentally during COVID-19, regardless of whether employees have worked all through the pandemic, have recently come back to the workplace, or won’t be brought back for another few months. As the data shows, employer-driven methods of contact tracing are not unwanted among the workforce, though education and transparent communication cannot be overlooked when introducing new policies or protocols related to organisational safety.”

The survey, conducted by Workplace Intelligence on behalf of Kronos among nearly 4,000 employed adults across Australia and New Zealand, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S, helps debunk a global misconception around COVID-19 contact tracing that suggests employee privacy concerns outweigh safety concerns. In fact, the vast majority of employees surveyed globally (86%) are comfortable to varying degrees with employer-led contact tracing, which, combined with education and transparent communication, may be the key to setting a risk-adverse workforce at ease. It’s a similar insight that India provides, as Indian employees rate workplace safety and safe commute as the biggest concerns.

News Facts

  • As Indian organisations are re-opening through staggered shifts, employee concerns must be addressed.

o   Nearly 3 out of 4 Indian employees (72%) currently working from home due to COVID-19 do not want to risk returning to their workplace due to concerns around commuting safely to work.

o   Moreover, 56% of Indian employees are concerned about overall workplace sanitation and cleanliness, whereas 42% consider using shared workspaces such as conference rooms a bigger challenge that can lead to the contagion spreading.

o   Furthermore, the survey highlights that Indian workers (37%) doubt the accuracy with which employee or guest temperatures are taken at workplaces

o   From a person-to-person contact perspective, nearly half of Indian employees (49%) are concerned about encountering an asymptomatic coworker or visitor, with 58% having concerns with their company’s ability to react quickly to presumed or confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the workplace.

  • In workplaces around the world, expectations from the workforce are high for employers to create environments that are as safe as possible.

o   Globally, 3 in 4 employees (75%) say they trust their employer to create a physically safe and healthy work environment. In India, though, that is slightly lower, as just more than half of employees (55%) strongly agree with that sentiment.

o   Trust extends to contact tracing at work: 86% of employees worldwide are at least “a little” comfortable with contact tracing led by their employer for the purpose of organisational safety. In fact, nearly half (45%) are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable, while just 29% and 12% are either “somewhat” or “a little” comfortable, respectively, with employer-led contact tracing.

  • With few opposed to the concept of contact tracing at work, the question for employers is not “should we,” but “how should we approach contact tracing?”

o   In order to safeguard organisational safety, around 48% of employees globally say they are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable with a workforce management approach to contact tracing. In India, only 39% are comfortable with the approach, i.e., allowing their employer to use their work schedule records to identify and communicate to employees who have been potentially exposed to the virus at work and to help prevent onward transmission. Only 5% of Indian respondents are “not at all” comfortable with this approach to contact tracing in the workplace.

  • Similarly, 33% of all workers in India stated that they are “a great deal” comfortable with their employer leveraging their mobile phone device for organisational safety, with 29% being “very” comfortable and 24% being “somewhat” comfortable. When asked about leveraging mobiles for the purpose of wider public safety outside of the workplace, 40% of the respondents are “a great deal” comfortable for leveraging their mobile device for contact tracing.
  • Generation Z and Younger Millennials1 worldwide consistently report greater comfortability with various forms of contact tracing than do their generational counterparts (49% and 48%, respectively, are at least “very” comfortable), as do employees based in India (66% are at least “very” comfortable) compared to other countries surveyed. Finally, only 14% of employees worldwide are “not at all” comfortable with contact tracing at work.

Sumeet Doshi, country manager, India, Kronos, said, “Earning the trust of employees that their health and safety is in good hands will be critical for organisations as the workforce starts getting back to the workplace. Employees need to feel that the right systems and processes are in place. Having an automated contact tracing process in the workplace will be a step in this direction.”

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