Nearly half cutting back on conferences, implementing remote work: survey
Amid growing concern over COVID-19, a majority of North American companies are taking steps to protect employees from respiratory infection and to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson.
These initiatives include launching employee communication campaigns, expanding the number of employees working remotely, and restricting travel to and from countries deemed to be high risk.
“The coronavirus is a wake-up call for companies to review their strategies, policies and procedures about safeguarding employees, customers and operations in this and future epidemics,” says Jeff Levin-Scherz, co-leader of the North American Health Management practice at Willis Towers Watson. “From boosting communication to increasing access to hand sanitizers, employers need a plan of action to protect their workers and reduce the risk of business interruption.”
Travel bans, remote work, hygiene
Nearly two in three (63 per cent) have cancelled planned trips to select countries for North American employees who travel internationally for business, and 55 per cent are encouraging virtual meetings to decrease travel, found the survey of 158 national and multinational employers.
Nearly half (47 per cent) have cancelled planned conferences in select countries.
Remote work is one of the policies that nearly half (46 per cent) of organizations are implementing. Other prevention policies being implemented include:
- required screening for visitors or employees who have recently travelled (30 per cent)
- clarifying pay policy if worksites are closed or employees are furloughed (28 per cent).
Almost half of respondents (45 per cent) have done research to determine which employees are at risk of COVID-19, based on their travel. Over half (59 per cent) have deployed communication campaigns geared toward preventing the spread of respiratory disease.
To help prevent spread of the disease, 44 per cent of respondents said they have increased access to hand sanitizers for North American employees, and 38 per cent are reviewing or revising HR policies and procedures; however, only five per cent are evaluating or reserving for potential increased health plan liabilities.