How Employers Can Address Employee & Public Health by Mitigating COVID-19 Contagion Threats

With lockdowns and remote work, employers in virtually every industry continue to face unprecedented challenges operating in an already unstable environment. As we start the new year, it’s clear that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to managing the pandemic is unsustainable.

Sales models, telework policies, and supply chain operations have all been reinvented on the fly. While some workplaces have been able to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic amid office closures and cessation of key business operations, these blunt actions leave much to be desired.

Despite recent and impending emergency authorizations, the supply of vaccine candidates will likely be constrained for some time, and coupled with distribution challenges, U.S. employers need to prepare for a future that requires long-term management of this invisible threat.

How can large employers maintain a competitive advantage during these uncertain times?

By practicing due diligence in protecting their employees from contagion, large employers could impact both employee and public health, and position themselves as leaders in their markets – all at the same time. This requires the ability to pinpoint the contagion threat for their employee base, and quickly act to mitigate risk.

Public health data tells us where COVID-19 surges will occur – the key is manipulating it to drill down on the areas where their employees live and work. For example, a company with field personnel in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut may be facing different risks depending on where employees are coming from and where they are going. The ability to drill down into regional virus activity means business operations in one place aren’t unnecessarily affected by challenges in another location, giving leaders the power to adapt.

Guidehouse’s contagion threat analytics quickly funnel real-time, de-identified data by employee type, function, and locality to illustrate a heatmap of regions with high levels of virus activity. This gives employers insights on employees who live in high-risk areas that could work from home, while others continue to maintain operations at a centralized location. Having access to this information, all in one place, allows it to be acted on promptly and successfully. 

From a sales perspective, tracking contagion trends can help companies proactively safeguard revenue streams for in person and point-of-sale transactions. Actionable threat assessment data enables sales representatives to prioritize accounts according to risk areas, anticipate more restrictive visitation policies for accounts experiencing higher risk, and plan their activities accordingly.

For manufacturing businesses, contagion threat analytics give HR leaders the power to anticipate staffing needs. If school closures in one region require some portion of the workforce to stay home, for example, companies can use real-time statistics to create a staffing plan to ensure no lapses in continuity.

Tools that rely on blunt, overly broad data won’t help businesses stay alive during these times, as they fail to interpret the nuances of a rapidly changing landscape. When it comes to the difference between a company thriving or folding during a time of crisis, the devil is in the details.

Creating meaning from public health data will be an important business strategy in the future.

If anything good has come of COVID-19, it’s innovation. For success in the future, companies need to be prepared to make real-time decisions related to COVID-19 and other public health issues, such as influenza, in the years ahead. Assessing and interpreting public health data will become an important business function, with a data-driven contagion threat strategy pivotal to resilience and meeting long-term business goals. 

This means mapping contagion levels to predictive models – and vetting them for accuracy and reliability – to aid in scenario planning. As disease patterns shift over time, a company needs the ability to prepare for potential outcomes based on the most current scientific trends, staying one step ahead of the virus.

For example, in the energy and manufacturing industries, this aggregated data, funneled through a dashboard, can support critical supply chain decisions if disruptions are predicted in certain areas. For pharmaceutical companies and other manufacturers, a tool that marries public health data with company-specific data gives leadership teams time to update standard operating procedures and best practices, as well as stock PPE and diagnostic tools as necessary.

Businesses able to mount an agile response to changing circumstances are most likely to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and future challenging times.

As the COVID-19 pandemic upends the business world, it is more important than ever to be prepared with data, ready to make decisions to mitigate risk, and keep operations running smoothly without interruption.

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