Since surfacing in the UK earlier this year, the Delta variant has caused a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases. Now that we’ve finally reached ‘Freedom Day’, we’re also bracing for the biggest leap in case numbers since the beginning of the pandemic. The government has accelerated vaccinations among adults and we’re all being advised to ‘proceed with caution’. With the end of the roadmap behind us, however, millions have already moved on. Crowded coastlines, heaving nightclubs and tens of thousands of Euro 2020 and Wimbledon spectators have made it easy to forget how quickly our fortunes can change. As an employer, staff complacency is now one of your most critical risks.
To return to normal operations – and, crucially, maintain them – it’s essential to keep workers aware of continuing transmission hazards. Screening employees for COVID-19 long after social limits have been lifted is a crucial tool in controlling future flare-ups. But it can only work if your team is entirely on board. Here are five ways to drive a successful testing programme, shape staff attitudes and keep employees committed to long-term COVID safety.
If you’re starting or continuing to screen after lockdown, your team may want to know what’s in it for them. Share the benefits of twice-weekly testing with an ongoing internal comms campaign built on positive and practical messages from your Board, leadership and management team. If you work in a union environment, you’ll also need to consult with the appropriate representatives. Workplace testing is a voluntary security step, so seize this unique opportunity to set yourself apart as an ‘extra mile’ employer. Boost your existing comms channels – from newsletters and intranet feeds to CEO messages and internal webinars – with regular reminders of the reasons behind your programme. High level messages might include:
● One in three COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, so routine testing helps you identify ‘healthy’ carriers
● Your business is dedicated to employee wellbeing and taking every possible step to create a safe working environment
● By participating in testing, staff are helping to protect themselves, colleagues and customers
● It’s vital to safeguard colleagues or loved ones who can’t have the vaccination
● Regular screening prevents outbreaks that lead to closures, increased workloads, productivity issues and staff absence
● You care about workers’ privacy, opinions and testing concerns and want to hear their feedback
As part of your screening provision, train a core group of in-house testing experts. Ensure they’re up to speed with every aspect of your approach and can signpost further guidance where needed. Your champions should clearly understand:
● The benefits of testing for individuals and your company
● The type of test you’re using and your programme’s overall format, including how, where and when to screen
● The quality and accuracy of your chosen test
● How to report screening outcomes
● The rules around self-isolation, positive cases and follow-up PCR testing
● How to manage testing refusals and escalate concerns
● Where to access current government and company guidelines
Some team members may voice reservations about testing. Others might worry about how their personal data or results will be used. To build trust, weave transparency and openness into your screening programme and look to your legal, privacy and HR teams for specialist advice. You should be prepared to field questions across key areas, including:
● Data protection and GDPR
● If testing is considered mandatory in your business
● Homeworking options for isolating staff
● Pay policies for tests taken outside working hours
● Practical support following a positive test
● Additional measures to make testing possible for remote or hybrid employees
Current lateral flow tests rely on invasive, highly uncomfortable tonsil and upper nasal swabs. Many users experience gagging, watering eyes and sneezing – a clear risk if the individual is infectious. There are also pressing questions around accuracy. Because existing antigen tests don’t distinguish between live and legacy virus particles, workers can test positive and disrupt productivity to isolate even when they present zero transmission risk.
To encourage engagement week after week, screening needs to be reliable, convenient and pain-free. A pioneering new type of lateral flow test delivers 99.9% accurate results using a quick saliva sample. Employees enjoy an ‘anytime/anywhere’ testing experience that’s as easy as brushing their teeth, with readings available in just 15 minutes.
The KnowNow lateral flow test provides added peace of mind through technology. When a colleague receives their positive or negative reading, details are entered onto a
purpose-built app that’s linked to your site’s access points. Workers must show or scan their result to enter, meaning only non-infectious employees are allowed onsite. The additional line of defence ensures your setting stays safe and secure, allowing staff to confidently focus on the job at hand.
With the removal of external restrictions, continuing to test – and getting your team onside with twice-weekly screening – can protect your company against whatever’s around the corner. The right tool builds resilience and makes it simple to act on infection risks before they become business-limiting outbreaks.