Read All of Rave Mobile Safety's Press Releases.

Recent Press Releases

May 6, 2015

Springfield College Scores with Rave Guardian App

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April 7, 2015

Georgia Regents University Increases Safety with the Rave Guardian App

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December 3, 2014

Rave Guardian Selected by The University of North Carolina to Protect Students at Flagship Campus in Chapel Hill

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Support a Smooth Return to the Workplace with Rave Business Safety Solutions

June 25, 2021 Blog Author: Terri Mock

There is still a lot of uncertainty about when many businesses will welcome employees back to the workplace. While some businesses appear to be gearing up for a “return to the new normal” at the start of the fall school term, others are reticent to commit to a return-to-work date due to concerns about the health and safety of employees and operational stability.  

Decisions about when to welcome employees back to the workplace seem to be driven by the location of the business, the nature of its operations, and individual employers' preferences. 

  • For example, businesses in California may be more reluctant to expose employees to the risk of infection following the passage of SB 1159 
  • Finance company chiefs have called remote working “an aberration” and are reportedly further ahead with return-to-work plans than tech companies. 
  • Google – a tech company with its headquarters in California – has said it expects employees to return to the workplace on 1st September under a hybrid model. 

Other factors such as further state COVID-19 worker protections, OSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, and the faltering speed at which employees are getting vaccinated, are also influencing businesses' decisions about returning to the workplace full-time, adopting a hybrid model, or maintaining work-from-home operations until the picture becomes clearer. 

In addition to regulatory obstacles and concerns about employee welfare, the risk exists of further lockdowns and stay-at-home orders if the accelerated relaxation of COVID-19 mitigation measures results in another wave. For many businesses, opening up the workplace and then closing it down again may have a significant impact on the business's operational stability 

It's More a Question of How, Rather Than When 

While most employees would prefer to be in the workplace at least some of the time, concerns exist about the safety of being in a confined workspace with potentially infected colleagues (whether vaccinated or not), the safety of the commute to work, and the ability to transition from working remotely to working in-person while preserving newly-established work/life balances. 

Although businesses can take measures to address workspace safety, managing the commute to work and personal work/life balances are usually out of their hands. Nonetheless, businesses need to be aware of these concerns so they can offer support wherever possible (for example by organizing split shifts and mental health resources) to alleviate return-to-work concerns. 

Indeed, there are likely to be more concerns than those listed above, and businesses need to feel the pulse of workforce sentiment early and often – ideally by advising employees of new workplace protocols before they return to in-person working, and then by conducting regular pulse surveys to identify concerns that may lead to issues with staff well-being, productivity, and profitability. 

[GUIDE]: Proven Practices for Tackling Workplace Challenges in a  Post-Coronavirus World

Supporting a Smooth Return to the Workplace 

One of the most effective ways to advise employees of new workplace protocols and conduct pulse surveys is via an employee safety app; for although protocols and surveys could be sent to employees by email, research suggests only a third of business emails are ever read by employees – implying that important safety measures being introduced to the workplace could be overlooked. 

An employee safety app enables businesses to send protocols and surveys via push notifications, which has the advantage of separating “return-to-work” communications from other business emails. Workplace protocols can also be uploaded to the app so employees always have them at their fingertips whether they are at work, at home, or travelling between the two. 

The immediacy of push notifications means that employee safety apps can be used to effectively advise employees of on-premises infections, workplace closures, and alternate working arrangements; while the anonymous tip texting capabilities of the app empower employees to alert managers to colleagues who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, failing to comply with workplace safety protocols, or failing to cope with the “return to the new normal”. 

Rave Mobile Safety's Return to Work Communication Solutions 

Rave Mobile Safety's communication solutions help businesses address every return to work concern they are likely to encounter. The Rave platform can be configured to operate as an emergency alert system, a collaboration tool, and a critical incident management solution. Additional solutions such as mobile panic buttons and employee safety apps enhance the platform's capabilities by enabling the automation of emergency response for faster business recovery.     

With regards to supporting a smooth return to the workplace, in addition to providing a dedicated channel for return-to-work communications, the Rave platform can help overcome potential issues such as presenteeismCOVID stigma, and inconsistencies between how COVID mitigation strategies are enforced in different offices. You can find out more about Rave Mobile Safety's return to work communication solutions on this page, or by contacting us and speaking with one of our team. 

Rave Platform for Business

HR Leaders Should Evaluate Their Company Communications Software

April 9, 2021 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

It is safe to say that nobody could have predicted the dire impact of the coronavirus pandemic back at the beginning of the 2020. For those working in human resources, the responsibilities of talent acquisition, internal professional development, and management of benefits for the workforce have abruptly changed to navigating the new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. One fact has remained a constant need for businesses and organizations across the nation: efficient employee communication. 

Key Considerations when Evaluating Your Company Communications

Businesses are now having to reevaluate their business models and operations amid the changes the coronavirus pandemic has brought. What used to be bustling and vibrant office spaces with ping-pong tables and spacious lounges for some competitive high-tech companies have now been emptied as many workforces were forced home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Large companies such as Adobe, Google, REI, and Zillow have sent employees home to work remotely until things begin to get back to normal, and Twitter has announced employees can work from home indefinitely even after offices start to reopen. Many organizations have mirrored these long-term remote work plans, which is highlighting the need for efficient, timely, and informative employee communications. 

Related Blog: How COVID-19 Has Created a Whole New Ball Game for HR Leaders

For HR leaders, it is important that the company communications software currently in place can tackle the challenges brought forward from COVID-19 and continue long after the pandemic. Consider the following questions when evaluating business communication solutions before the new year: 

Are you reaching all your employees? 

employee communication mobile phoneThis may seem like a silly question, but as workforces adjust and change – especially amid mass furloughs and unfortunate layoffs – HR must be able to reach every employee. Routine communications and updates about the company should be sent across the organization so that everybody is on the same page. 

By leveraging a mass communication and collaboration solution, users can reach all employees via multiple methods of communication including email, SMS (Short Message Service) text message, voice calls, desktop alerts, digital signage, and PA systems. To account for irregular workflows or disruptions to the supply chain, scheduling communications to ensure those with differing work schedules receive the correct information is extremely important.  

Have you addressed employee concerns and anxieties? 

There is no question about how difficult 2020 and beyond has been for many, especially with the unfortunate economic decline. Not only are employees worried about their jobs, but they are also struggling with external factors including the pandemic, nationwide civil unrest, severe weather, and natural disaster threats – to name a few. 

Related Blog: From PTO to RTO: How Employee Communication Has Changed in 2020

HR leaders and employees must do what they can to ease these fears and provide the support needed. Again, communicating and remaining transparent with workers is essential. Leaders can also share mental health resources and provide additional support such as any virtual therapy options if possible. With a comprehensive employee communications solution, this information can be shared regularly to ensure employees always know of the resources a company has on hand. 

Is there clarification on sick-leave and business travel policies? 

Amidst the confusion brought on by the pandemic, the CDC has recommended that employers clearly define their sick-leave policies according to public health guidelines. Employees must understand that if they are not feeling well, they should take time off, whether they are required to come into the office or are working remotely. With the new paid leave bill, many organizations have created special sick policies and have added additional sick days for the coronavirus which have been easier to support. Blog-Quote-HREmployeeComm112020

Additionally, most business travel has been terminatedIt is recommended that employers consider this and continue to limit travel altogether. Wen-Wen Lam, CEO, and Founder of NexTravel told HR Technologist, “Companies should make sure to offer their full assistance and take over all travel-related issues so employees can focus on their work and staying healthy… This includes communicating with your traveling employees about all emergency protocols, updated travel guidelines, as well as handling any travel logistics.” 

Related Blog: What to do if an Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Does your workforce understand new plans and procedures when in the workplace? 

Not every company can operate entirely remotely, which is why clearly communicating workplace plans and procedures when entering and working in an office space is extremely important. Human resources must share in-office policies such as social distancing regulations, mask-wearing, regular sanitization of workstations, and more. 

With a mass notification solution that has polling capabilities, users can send automated daily employee COVID health checks, which prompt workers to respond on whether they have symptoms or have been in contact with anybody who has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

An organization wants their workers to feel safe at work, which is why conducting health checks, sharing what is being done to maintain their safety as well as what employees need to do to ensure their colleagues safety is paramount. 

Related Blog: Smarter Year-End Budgeting Solutions

Is it Time to Update Your Company Communication Software? 

Although budgets are tight, clear and consistent communication with employees is essential for any business. Leaders should look for a comprehensive mass communication and collaboration solution that is easy-to-use, can reach everybody instantly, and has helpful features such as automated updates, contact list segmentation, multi-language options, SMS opt-in, and robust reporting capabilities. 

It is a businesses’ responsibility to protect employees and put them at ease throughout this unprecedented and challenging time. Employee communications are just one way to do so. 

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Seaboard Foods Case Study Illustrates the Versatility of the Rave Platform

March 30, 2021 Blog Author: Terri Mock

Seaboard Foods is a Fortune 500 company best known as the second largest pig producer and the fourth largest pork processor in the United States. However, the company also has cargo shipping, sugar production, and power generating operations that contribute to gross sales in excess of $6.8 billion per year.Due to the complexity of communicating with more than five thousand employees located across five states, in 2019 Seaboard Foods adopted the Rave platform as an effective means to deliver targeted emergency and nonemergency messaging to employees. Then the coronavirus pandemic started, and the company was forced to use the Rave platform in ways it had never envisaged.

Among many unexpected uses of the Rave platform during the pandemic, Seaboard Foods was able to communicate its free COVID-19 testing to employees, organize where and when the tests were conducted, and inform employees what they needed to do to get tested. The platform was also used to quickly notify employees who tested negative that they were clear to come to work.

In the event an employee had been in contact with a colleague who tested positive, the platform could communicate that they need to quarantine for fourteen days; and, from a management perspective, the platform's console provided operations managers with a single pane view of who was ill or self-quarantining and when they might be expected to return to work.

According to Alaina Sill – Seaboard Foods Talent Acquisition and Recruiting Manager – the platform saved the company hundreds of hours in contacting employees individually. She said: “there were over 700 people we needed to notify about whether they could resume work. It would have taken us so long to individually contact them that who knows when they actually would have returned.”

[INFO SHEET]: Coronavirus Recovery Solutions for Manufacturing

 

Seaboard Food Extends Use of the Rave Platform


As the pandemic continued, the Rave platform was used to alert employees to cancelled shifts, inform them they didn't have to use paid time off when quarantining for COVID-19, and announce pay increases for employees who worked during the height of the virus. The use of the platform was subsequently extended to solicit employee feedback via companywide polls.

The effectiveness of Rave's polling capability inspired Sill to use the platform in the employee onboarding process. She now uses the platform to survey new workers during the first sixty days of their employment with Seaboard Foods, quickly identify areas for improvement, and overcome obstacles or concerns that may arise at any Seaboard Foods location.

Sill's message to other companies using the Rave platform is “don't limit yourself to what Rave can be used for''. For companies not yet using the Rave platform, Sill advises: “Anything and everything that you would communicate to an employee, use Rave. It’s so simple and so easy to use. It’s been more efficient and effective for getting info out very quickly to the people who need it.”

Read the Seaboard Foods case study today. Alternatively, if you have any questions about the ways in which the Rave platform can be used to enhance emergency and nonemergency corporate communication, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to answer your questions and organize a demo of the Rave platform tailored to your specific requirements.

Seaboard Foods Case Study

What is Red Collar Crime?

March 23, 2021 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Red collar crime is a subgroup of white collar crime in which the perpetrator uses violence to avoid detection or prosecution. Although red collar crime appears to be a rare event in the U.S., this is not necessarily the case, and it is advisable for businesses to have a process through which white collar crime can be reported anonymously.

The term “white collar crime” is usually identified with financially motivated, nonviolent crimes committed by employees against their employer, or by individuals against a financial institution. The crimes typically consist of forgery, insider trading, fraud, or embezzlement, and are estimated by the FBI to cost U.S. businesses more than $300 billion per year.

Nobody really knows the true cost of white collar crime because not all white collar crimes are detected. Furthermore, when they are, only 54% of white collar crimes are reported to law enforcement agencies according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in their 2020 Report To The Nations, who also claim businesses on average lose 5% of their revenue each year to fraud and that 43% of white collar crimes are identified via a tip rather than via an internal audit or investigation.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

When White Collar Crime Turns Red

When white collar crimes are detected, the most common outcome is an admission of guilt and - depending on the nature and severity of the crime - a custodial sentence, a financial settlement, or disciplinary action. However, when the perpetrator doesn't want the nature of his actions disclosed, the outcome can be much different.

Around 50 recorded cases have occurred in the past 30 years in which the perpetrator has either murdered the person who discovered their crime or paid somebody else to do it. Many of these cases were reviewed by Frank Perri - a criminal psychologist at the DePaul University in Chicago - to develop psychological profiles of offenders who commit red collar crimes.

Perri's results were published in the International Journal of Psychological Studies in 2016, and they make fascinating reading. His review of the cases found red collar criminals typically harbor behavioral risk factors that lead them to use violence as a solution to a perceived problem, in the same way as non-white-collar offenders resort to violence.

[INFOGRAPHIC]: The High Cost of Not Protecting Employees Against Workplace  Violence

Examples of Red Collar Crime in the Workplace

One of the earliest examples of recorded red collar crime in the workplace dates back to 1982, when the owner of the Candor Diamond Company of Manhattan - Irwin Margolies - contracted a hitman to kill two employees. The first he suspected of alerting federal prosecutors to his multimillion dollar fraud, and the second was due to testify against him - even though she had benefited from the fraud herself.

In the workplace, red collar crime does not necessarily result in the murder - or attempted murder - of a colleague. In 2008, Sallie Rohrbach, an agency examiner with the North Carolina Department of Insurance, was murdered by insurance company owner Michael Howell after she discovered evidence of insurance fraud. In this case, Sallie was a lone worker at risk rather than a colleague

Related Article: Why Lone Worker Security Apps Should Be Available to All  Employees

More recently in 2016, a former bank employee - Naquan Reyes - was convicted of paying for the murder of a co-conspirator, who had been caught conducting check fraud on Reyes' behalf and who had agreed to testify against him. Although not a colleague-on-colleague red colleague crime, other co-conspirators had worked in the bank with Reyes and were equally as guilty in the check fraud scam.

The Extent of Red Collar Crime is Unknown

In the same way as nobody really knows the true cost of white collar crimes, the extent of red collar crime is also unknown. There could be many dozens more murders attributable to the cover-up of white collar crime; but, because the white collar crime has remained undetected, the connection is never made. Conversely, a murder could go undetected when a white collar crime has been discovered.

There have been a number of failed red collar crimes - for example, in 2008, Randy Nowak was found guilty of attempting to hire a hitman to murder an IRS agent he believed was about to uncover his tax fraud and money laundering schemes. Unfortunately for Nowak, the hitman he tried to hire was an undercover FBI agent who subsequently turned him in.

Sometimes white collar criminals turn on white collar criminals, as was the case when Scott Kimball ratted on cellmates Arnold Flowers and Sompong Khamsomphou who had been incarcerated awaiting trial for check fraud. Kimball - who was also accused of check fraud - alleged Flowers had asked him to hire a hitman to kill U.S. District Judge Russel Holland, U.S. Attorney Crandon Randell, and two witnesses. Due to Kimball being an unreliable witness, the charges were later reduced to witness tampering.

How to Prevent Red Collar Crime

The best way to prevent white collar crime - and therefore by association red collar crime - is for businesses to have a process through which white collar crime can be reported anonymously. As mentioned above, 43% of white collar crime is detected by tips, and anecdotal evidence suggests this figure is considerably higher when employees can alert businesses to fraud anonymously.

Implementing an anonymous tip service has more financial benefits than just alerting security personnel to internal fraud. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that losses attributable to white collar crime were 50% smaller for businesses with a tip service, and also that these businesses were less exposed to fines for regulatory noncompliance because they had controls in place to prevent fraud.

For businesses that do not yet have an anonymous tip service in place, another potential solution is an employee safety app. The mobile app supports two-way anonymous tip texting and has personal safety features such as the virtual escort that can help protect lone workers - such as Sallie Rohrbach. To find out more about implementing an anonymous tip service or protecting employees with employee safety apps, do not hesitate to get in touch.

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A Day in the Life of a Hospital Emergency Manager

March 17, 2021 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

A hospital emergency manager is an individual responsible for the overall planning and response to emergencies that can affect the healthcare organization and communities that rely on it. He or she may be solely responsible for emergency preparation and response management or head up a team with responsibilities shared among team members.

If the healthcare organization is part of a Health Care Coalition (HCC), a hospital emergency manager is also responsible for collaborating with external entities. Depending on the role of the organization within the coalition, this can escalate responsibilities to include coordinating emergency responses between entities and ensuring the resilience of the healthcare system after an emergency.

However, even when an individual is solely responsible for hospital emergency management in an organization that is not part of a HCC, it is impossible for them to work in isolation. They have to liaise with nurse managers, operations managers, and HR managers (among others) to ensure an effective organizational response to incidents that affect the environment of care.  

Therefore, it is unlikely there is any such thing as a typical day in the life of a hospital emergency manager. Although you could say a typical day would be filled with meetings, planning, training, and organizing emergency preparedness exercises, the number of different hats a hospital emergency manager has to wear suggests every day is far from typical. Let's look at a few of those roles.

The Hats and the Roles of the People Who Wear Them

While hospitals can differ in their organizational structure, there are usually five departments a hospital emergency manager will have to liaise with – some of which will have multiple influences on emergency planning and preparedness. For example, while the finance department will usually only be concerned with budgets and cost allocations, the CMOs department may be involved with the management of outpatients, psychiatric services, and ambulance crews (plus several others).

Operations departments often cover procurement, admin, security services, IT, transport, and logistics, while the input from the nursing department may include child services, care of the elderly, and providing for vulnerable populations. Similarly, the HR department is usually responsible for employee wellbeing, employee training, and risk management – which in most cases will mean the HR Department is involved in mandatory emergency preparedness training, drills, and exercises.

Then there may be some emergency preparedness considerations for which more than one department has responsibility. For example, regulatory compliance (i.e., HIPAA) could involve the HR, IT, and legal departments, communications could be assigned to the marketing department (which would usually manage PR and media communications) and the perations department for internal communications, emergency communications, and collaboration with external entities.

The Scope of External Entities May Surprise You

It was mentioned previously that the responsibilities of a hospital emergency manager can vary according to the role of the organization within a Health Care Coalition. They can also vary according to the nature of medical services provided, the nature of the emergency, and considerations such as the availability of secure shelter and accessibility to food and water, as these factors may determine the scale of a patient surge in the aftermath of an emergency. 

In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services published a guide (PDF) to Health Care Preparedness and Response Capabilities to support its Hospital Preparedness Program. While the guide is geared towards Health Care Coalitions, it contains a list of external entities that can either be members of a coalition or that hospital emergency managers may need to contact in the event of an emergency. Some are obvious, but many could be overlooked in the stress of an emergency.

Therefore, in addition to contacting law enforcement, fire services, and public safety officers when an emergency starts, hospital emergency managers may have to set up lines of communication with external entities such as medical device manufacturers, amateur radio groups, and faith-based organizations – notwithstanding that, when an emergency event starts, hospital staff, patients, visitors, and partners in the Health Care Coalition may need to be alerted simultaneously.

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Effective Communication is Critical to Effective Hospital Emergency Management

In any emergency, the key to an effective response is effective communication; and in a hospital emergency, effective communication is critical because of a number of entities – both internal and external – that have a role to play in response and recovery. With this in mind, hospital emergency managers are invited to get in touch to request a demo of the Rave Collaborate solution – a crisis management tool designed to expedite emergency communications and ensure no entity is overlooked.

Rave Collaborate helps hospital emergency managers plan and prepare for any emergency event, mitigate operational disruptions during an event, and accelerate recovery from an event via activity tracking capabilities. The platform integrates with existing critical communication tools (PA systems, digital signage, desktop alerts, etc.) and is compatible with FEMA's WebEOC system which is utilized by many Health Care Coalitions, public health agencies, and emergency services around the country.

In the demo, it will also be possible to see how Rave Collaborate integrates with other Rave Mobile Safety communication solutions for healthcare in order to identify further use cases for the platform. To find out more, contact us today.

Universal - Rave Collaborate Demo

How to Use Mass Notification With A Remote Workforce

March 16, 2021 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, freelancers were projected to make up the majority of the workforce by 2027, as more companies embrace flexible work schedules, according to a study conducted by the Freelancer’s Union.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated remote working; and, although remote workers are not necessarily all freelancers, many management issues are the same.  Effective communication with freelancers and remote employees can ensure many management issues are resolved before they escalate into business disruption.

The rise of remote work prior to the COVID-19 pandemic can be attributed to many different factors, including recent studies showing remote employees can be more productive and engaged in their work, how IoT is merging living and workspaces, and the ability to keep an employee on-call for customers due to flexible scheduling, according to Fast Company.

In order to manage employees working in remote locations, office managers must create an open and effective communication system. The system should include safety protocols, and when attempting to reach a remote workforce during an emergency, a mass notification system can be a powerful tool. 

[INFOGRAPHIC]: Navigating the New Workplace Landscape

Companies hoping to prioritize employee safety while taking advantage of a remote workforce should begin with a comprehensive remote work policy. The first step in creating a remote work policy is determining who on your team can benefit from remote-work, and if those individuals will need additional training or resources for success. Before establishing a remote workforce, be sure to consult with human resources, as well as legal and finance teams, to create an official policy to ensure that remote workers will know who to reach out to with any questions or concerns. 

It’s also important to consider how remote work will impact collaboration, and which tools can continue to ensure that all employees are capable. Finding the appropriate tools for communication is often a priority for remote workers, as being out of reach is one of the main issues managers struggle with for remote teams. These tools can include video conferencing software or hardware, equipment to maintain a home workspace, meeting spaces in-office where remote workers can be seen or heard, and of course, a mass notification system to keep employees informed of any emergency or important company news.

Manage cybersecurity concerns by providing workers with a VPN or any other relevant technology in case their system needs an additional layer of security to protect data. In addition to virtual security, it’s important for employees to be included in standard workplace safety procedures and training. Emergency communication is critical - in an era where workplace concerns can include a variety of issues, from a hurricane evacuation to an active assailant on- campus, all workers will appreciate the extra layer of physical security a mass notification system can provide.

How Mass Notification Can Improve Remote Employee Communication

Employees will only opt for a remote option if everyone feels valued and included, and especially if half the team works in-office, creating a strong communication strategy is critical. During a transition period, a mass notification system can provide a simple way to provide newly remote employees with updates from the office. Managers can make decisions about how frequent to make notifications - the system can be leveraged during an emergency, but it can also be utilized to keep employees in the loop, including dates about major company-wide meetings or holiday events. 

By keeping employees up to date on company planning, managers can further ensure that remote workers feel included. The system allows for a more connected workplace community overall, which will be even more important as the rate of remote work continues to rise and more employees work outside the office. The employee notification database in a versatile mass notification system can be segmented into groups to account for an employee's role, location, or specific interests. Employees can choose groups they belong to and how often they receive alerts via a company-branded web portal, provide the company with specific information that may be relevant during an emergency, and request messages be received in any language.

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

Corporate managers can leverage mass notification to communicate with workers throughout a variety of potential emergency situations, from dire situations such as an active assailant onsite or a severe weather emergency to smaller incidents, such as power outages at the corporate office or routine facilities management. If there is any health or safety concern in the workplace, it’s important to include remote workers, to avoid confusion or prevent a worker from interrupting emergency response. During a severe weather event, it’s also critical that remote workers are contacted, keeping these employees informed of any changes in scheduling or evacuation orders. Employers can leverage mass notification to go an extra step for worker safety, and contact employees throughout the storm. 

How SMS Opt-In Can Improve Remote Workforce Communication 

An SMS Opt-In feature makes it easy for employees, contractors, and visitors to sign up for temporary or long-term notifications. SMS Opt-In for mass notification can be a critical feature for effective communication with employees who work off-site. Members of a corporate community, including remote workers, can opt in to receive alerts by texting a unique keyword to an SMS short code.

Related Blog: What is SMS Opt-In for Mass Notification Systems?

Managers can use a keyword for multiple events or have multiple keywords for one event. For many remote workers, flexibility is a major draw, and SMS Opt-In can help tailor a mass notification system for this work style. Implementation and management of the system is simple, and multiple features enable managers to reach out to remote employees, such as the ability to make public lists in which any visitor may op -in to or private lists that prioritize internal communications.

When Seaboard Foods, the second largest pig producer in the U.S., first implemented the Rave Platform, the company was looking to replace outdated communication methods and better engage with its 5,000 employees across multiple locations. But as the coronavirus pandemic swept the country, new and unexpected communication challenges arose. Seaboard Foods now needed a way to proactively share critical health and safety information with employees and keep business operations running smoothly. 

Related Case Study: Rave Assists Seaboard Foods During COVID-19 Outbreak &  Beyond

Streamlining Employee Communication Across Your Organization

5 Tips for a Successful Joint Commission Accreditation Survey

March 10, 2021 Blog Author: Terri Mock

The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that “accredits” more than twenty-two thousand healthcare organizations and healthcare programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards and therefore accreditation is highly sought and - once achieved - highly prized. 

Healthcare organizations that achieve Joint Commission accreditation meet or surpass CMS’ standards for acceptance into the Medicare and Medicaid programs. So, although Joint Commission accreditation is not mandatory, many healthcare organizations apply for accreditation in order to prove they meet the standards required to receive payments from the federally funded programs. 

Learn More: What are CMS Hospital Star Ratings and How Are They Calculated?

However, other than the “Early Survey Option” at the start of the accreditation process, Joint Commission Accreditation Surveys are rarely announced in advance. Therefore, organizations pursuing accreditation and those wishing to maintain accredited status need to be permanently prepared for a surprise visit. In this blog, we share five tips to help healthcare organizations pass accreditation surveys. 

What is a Joint Commission Accreditation Survey?

Healthcare organizations that apply to be accredited by the Joint Commission are inspected by trained and certified “surveyors” who are usually highly experienced doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, or other healthcare professionals depending on the services being provided by the healthcare organization. For example, if a laboratory has applied for Joint Commission accreditation, the inspection is carried out by a certified and experienced laboratory medical technologist. 

During the inspection (or “survey”), surveyors randomly select patients’ medical records and use them as a roadmap to assess compliance with Joint Commission standards. The surveyors (there may be more than one per inspection) trace patients’ experiences through their medical journeys by talking with staff who have interacted with the patients and the patients themselves. The environments in which the patients are cared for are also inspected to ensure compliance. 

Once accreditation has been achieved, organizations have to self-monitor compliance with the Joint Commission’s standards and submit data every three months relating to issues such as how they treat conditions such as heart attacks and pneumonia. Repeat surveys take place at 18-36 month intervals, but healthcare organizations are not warned in advance when they will take place - hence the importance of always being prepared for a successful Joint Commission accreditation survey. 

It’s Not Possible to Prepare for an Accreditation Survey

Because healthcare organizations never know in advance when a Joint Commission accreditation survey will take place, the only way to prepare for an inspection is to maintain the Joint Commission’s standards all year though. However, this is not just a case of “keep doing what you are doing” and preventing bad habits from slipping in. The Joint Commission’s standards are subject to change as the organization strives to improve the standard of healthcare across the country. 

Changes are most often published in the “Survey Activity Guide for Healthcare Organizations” under the “What’s New” section. Also included in the Guide are details of the inspection process (which vary according to the services provided by the healthcare organization), the documents each organization should have ready to demonstrate compliance to an inspector, and a checklist relating to health and safety measures. 

To achieve or maintain accreditation, it is important organizations train staff on emergency preparedness, data security, and HIPAA compliance. During the inspection, surveyors will not only ask staff about patient care. They will also ask about such things as communications during an emergency (in compliance with CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule), intradepartmental and interdepartmental communications (i.e., hand offs), and access procedures for EMRs and other technologies (passwords, authentication, etc.). 

5 Tips to Help Pass Joint Commission Accreditation Surveys

The following tips to help pass Joint Commission accreditation surveys might not apply to every type of healthcare organization in every circumstance. They are intended as a general guide that healthcare organizations can use to improve the likelihood of a successful survey and to achieve a better rating on the Joint Commission’s qualitycheck.org website. 

Related Blog: How to Improve Hospital Patient Safety Grades

  1. Identify Discrepancies between the Guide and Current Practices
    Although the current Survey Activity Guide is 120 pages in length, once you take out the areas that do not apply to your type of healthcare organization, it is simpler to identify discrepancies between the Joint Commission’s standards and current working practices. These discrepancies need to be remedied before a Joint Commission accreditation survey. 
  2. Learn from Other Organizations' Failings
    Each year (usually around April), the Joint Commission publishes a list of the most frequently cited failings from inspections during the previous year in its “Perspectives” newsletter. Often the failings have little to do with the standard of care provided by the healthcare organization and are more likely attributable to the environment of care. 
  3. Get Rid of Corridor Clutter
    In the event of an emergency, corridor clutter not only makes it harder to move patients, but it can also hinder emergency response. The Joint Commission acknowledges that some medical equipment needs to be permanently accessible, but inspectors have previously found items such as laundry baskets obstructing corridors for hours.
     
  4. You Never Get a Second Opportunity to Make a Good First Impression
    In the Survey Activity Guide, a significant amount of attention is given to how an inspector should be greeted, how he or she should be identified, and how he or she should be accommodated. Make sure your organization’s “welcome team” are up-to-speed with the current recommendations, and always have ready a clean, Internet-connected office space from which the inspector(s) can work. 
  5. Keep up to date with Joint Commission’s Current Hot Topics
    On the Joint Commission’s website, there is a frequently updated blog which is a good thermometer of the Joint Commission’s current “hot topics”. Recently the blog has covered such topics as improving health and safety in healthcare workspaces and protecting staff from workplace violence - implying that employee wellbeing may be incorporated into future standards. 

Improve Communication and Protect Employees

Throughout the Survey Activity Guide, there are many references to the importance of having good communication systems in place - not only for professionals to collaborate of patient care, but also for healthcare organizations to comply with CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule. There will likely be more emphasis on communications if employee wellbeing is incorporated into future standards. 

Rave Mobile Safety is a leading developer of communication solutions for the healthcare industry. Our critical communications and response platform can improve patient care and resource coordination, help healthcare organization meet CMS mandates and requirements, and help prevent workplace accidents and workplace violence in order to keep employees safe. Contact us today to find out more. 

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What Corporate Communications Looks Like at Organizations That Provide Essential Services

March 8, 2021 Blog Author: Terri Mock

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of clear and accessible corporate communications – particularly by organizations that provide essential services. In this blog, we look at ways in which the water industry addressed communication challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss tools for other organizations to emulate their success.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were a lot of questions being asked about how the virus is transmitted. Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding, many of the questions were answered incorrectly or in a manner that could be misinterpreted – leading to public confusion, conflicting versions of the same advice, and the failure to comply with recommended guidelines.

One of the biggest concerns was that the virus could be transmitted through the water supply. This concern led to the panic-buying of bottled water and a decline in residential water consumption. The decline in residential water consumption could not have come at a worse time for water companies due to industrial water consumption falling through the floor when manufacturing plants closed.

Faced with public mistrust in their product and declining revenues, water companies launched an information campaign by email, news releases, bill inserts, and social media. Their message was they would provide communities with safe, clean, and reliable services during the pandemic while protecting the health of employees. Nonetheless, bottled water sales increased 50% by mid-March.

As the Situation Deteriorates, AWWA Hosts Webcast

In April 2020, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) commissioned an assessment of the financial impact of COVID‐19 on the water industry. The assessment found an aggregate financial impact of COVID‐19 on drinking water of approximately $13.9 billion – representing a decrease in revenues of 16.9%.

While some of the financial impact was attributable to water companies eliminating shut offs for non-payments, it was clear something had to be done to increase consumer confidence in the safety of the drinking water supply. Consequently, AWWA hosted a webcast featuring best practices for handling communication challenges and building public trust during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attended by nearly 2,000 delegates, the webcast included presentations on risk communication and messaging, as well as discussions on spokesperson selection, social media, and employee safety. The webcast had the desired effect because, by the end of June, residential water consumption exceeded pre-pandemic levels – although stay-at-home orders were likely a factor in the recovery.

AWWA's webcast featured three key areas on which water companies should focus – the principles of risk communication, building trust from the inside out, and being part of the solution rather than the problem. Multiple companies took the advice on board to address communication challenges they were encountering; and, earlier this year, AWWA published a case study demonstrating how American Water put the best practices into practice.

[INFOGRAPHIC]: Navigating the New Workplace Landscape

How the Best Practices were Put into Practice

American Water was one of a number of water companies that had run a public-facing information campaign in early February, but changed its focus following AWWA's webcast. The company combined its internal communications, human resources, and safety and security teams to ensure company employees had the necessary information, technology, tools, and training to do their jobs safely whether they were working from home, from an office, or in the field.

New modes of communication were implemented to keep employees up to date, deliver ongoing COVID‐19 safety tips, and reinforce the message that the safety of American Water's employees, customers, and communities are a priority. Weekly video messages were sent by the chairman to employees to thank them for their efforts, employees were encouraged to take vacation time to recharge their batteries, and required to complete daily wellness checks via their mobile phones.

Related Case Study: Rave Assists Seaboard Foods During COVID-19 Outbreak &  Beyond

With internal communications now embracing the Caring-Action-Perspective model, American Water increased its messaging from the inside out to emphasize the company's commitment to working with customers experiencing financial hardship. The company also equipped field employees with the tools to communicate with customers via video in order to discuss or diagnose issues without having to enter customers' homes and business premises.

The case study concludes by reinforcing the message that the role of frequent, transparent, and encouraging communication should not be underestimated. Research has shown employers are more trusted for pandemic news than the government, and organizations should take advantage of their important position in the community to develop risk communication strategies, build trust from the inside out, and be part of the solution – both during the pandemic and afterwards.

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The Role of Technology in the 5 “E's” of Corporate Safety

March 2, 2021 Blog Author: Terri Mock

Training organizations have a tendency to create acronyms or alliterations with the intention of helping businesses more easily remember important concepts. Unfortunately, many of them are instantly forgettable; but there are a few which can be of benefit to businesses if they are used effectively – and one of these is the 5 E's of corporate safety.

While some training organization acronyms are useful (i.e., the IDEAL model for problem solving) and others are memorable (i.e. PEBCAK for a computer user error), many fail to do the job. For example, who uses SMARTER and DUMBER, or remember what they stand for? (For reference: “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely, Exciting, Recorded” and “Dull, Unrealistic, Mediocre, Boring, Evaporating, Rote”).

It's much the same with alliterations. The 5 C's of marketing (Company, Customers, Competitors, Collaborators, and Climate) is a much more effective use of language than the 5 B's of Budgeting (Benefits, Barometers, Build It, Benchmark it, Make it Better). With regards to the letter E, it is such a versatile letter, there can be combinations of 5 E's for anything from road safety to teaching science to young children.

The 5 E's of Corporate Safety 

Although the 5 E's of corporate safety can vary between training organizations, they generally follow the sequence of Education, Engagement, Engineering, Enforcement, and Evaluation. This sequence enables businesses to develop a corporate safety framework that encompasses safety best practices, risk management, and effective safety leadership regardless of the nature of the business or whether it has a remote or on-premises workforce.

Education

Education is obviously the starting point of any corporate safety framework; and while it ticks regulatory boxes for onboarding new employees or conducting mandated training exercises, education can only deliver awareness of safety policies and procedures – it cannot provide real-life experience of how to respond in an emergency or in the aftermath of an accident. 

In such circumstances the brain's “fight or flight” response is to pump adrenaline and hormones into the bloodstream – which drains the brain of the serotonin and dopamine it needs for optimal cognitive function. Therefore, no matter how well employees have been educated on safety policies and procedures, their responses could be comprised if they are unable to think clearly.

One way in which technology can help overcome the issue of employees' minds going blank during an emergency is an employee safety app. The app can be used to store quick-reference safety policies and procedures, provide safety assistance through geo-targeted notifications and alerts, and support two-way communication during and after an emergency.

[INFO SHEET]: Rave Guardian Engage and Protect Your People

Engagement

Technology has made it a lot easier to engage employees with safety best practices. For example, businesses can take advantage of Virtual Reality (VR) technology to put employees in scenarios they may encounter, gauge how they react, and adjust the education stage accordingly. Studies have shown employees that have undergone VR training tend to retain safety procedures for longer.

However, VR safety training is not only expensive, it is impractical to organize evacuations or shelter in place exercises with hundreds of employees wearing VR headsets – notwithstanding that many may be working remotely. It is also time-consuming to review footage of safety training exercises to identify where improvements need to be made on an individual or business-wide scale.

A more cost-effective alternative to VR training is geo-polling. Geo-polling involves sending employees a text message consisting of a question and multiple answers. Employees respond to the text message by pressing a number on their mobile keypads. The responses are collated by the text messaging platform for safety officers to quickly identify where more education is required.

Engineering

Engineering is a broad term that can be used to describe the design, development, implementation, operation, and maintenance of the corporate safety framework. The term can also be used to describe the way in which multiple emergency notification solutions are unified in order to accelerate emergency alerts and responses.

An example of a unified emergency solution is the Rave Alert platform. Rave Alert is primarily an SMS text-based mass notification platform capable of sending emergency alerts to thousands of employees simultaneously. The platform can also enhance internal communication by email, voice broadcast, desktop alert or social media due to its unlimited database segmentation capabilities.  

However, Rave Alert can also integrate with other communication methods via Common Alert Protocol (CAP). Therefore, the platform could (for example) broadcast voice alerts over public address systems or send alerts to desktop computers and digital signage systems. Rave Alert is also IPAWS-OPEN and compatible with FEMA's WebEOC emergency operations center.

[INFOGRAPHIC]: Navigating the New Workplace Landscape

Enforcement

Enforcing health and safety best practices on-premises is practically impossible without a health and safety officer standing behind each employee to ensure compliance. Even with CCTV, health and safety officers can find it difficult to monitor employee activity, identify risks to workplace safety, and ensure workplace safety mechanisms are in proper working order.

As should have been made clear in the education and engagement stages, workplace health and safety is everybody's responsibility; and businesses can empower employees to report risks to workplace via a tip texting service. This can be a standalone service – where businesses provide a dedicated number for employees to text safety concerns – or a feature of the employee safety app.

For employees who are assigned specific health and safety tasks – for example checking fire alarms work or that AEDs have fully charged batteries – a platform such as Rave Collaborate can send automated reminders and prompt employees to record when the tasks are completed. In this way businesses can stay on top of risk management and effective safety leadership.

Evaluation

The evaluation process consists of reviewing the expectations of the corporate safety framework, determining whether the education, engagement, engineering, and enforcement stages are achieving the desired results, and identifying where changes should be made to strengthen the framework and make the business more resilient against threats to health and safety.

Again, technology has a role in the review process by providing safety leaders with single pane reports, data, and analytics. For example, the depth and granularity of information provided by the Rave Alert platform can help businesses make better-informed decisions about what changes need to be made to health and safety policies to better protect employees from workplace risks.

To find out more about Rave Alert's capabilities, or to discuss any of the technologies mentioned above, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to answer any questions and organize a demo of Rave Alert tailored to your requirements so you can evaluate the benefits of employee safety apps, geo-polling, unified communications, and collaboration platforms.

Employee Communication Solutions Guide

What is SMS Opt-In for Mass Notification Systems?

February 23, 2021 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

Most people will be familiar with the concept of SMS opt-in because it is widely used in retail marketing campaigns. In typical use cases, a retailer offers a special deal to customers who text a keyword to a dedicated short code number. Then, the retailer sends details of further deals by SMS text to opted-in customers on a regular basis.

Possibly one of the best-known examples of an SMS opt-in marketing campaign is the Subway marketing campaign. The fast food company invites potential customers to text the keyword OFFERS to its dedicated short code number - 782929 (or “Subway” on an alphanumeric mobile keypad) and in return customers receive details of special offers and discount coupons against future purchases.     

Retailers are not the only organizations to take advantage of SMS opt-in technology. Churches, political parties, and schools take advantage of text message opt-in services to build connections with parishioners, voters, and parents; while Major League Baseball teams also run SMS opt-in programs to keep fans up to date with team news and score alerts during games.

A less well-known use for SMS opt-in is mass notification systems. While this may be because the Wireless Emergency Alert system used by public safety officials doesn´t require citizens to opt-in in order to receive emergency notifications, it may also be because mass notification databases can be populated in ways other than SMS opt-in. However, there can be multiple benefits for businesses implementing a mass notification system with SMS opt-in capabilities.

Populating Mass Emergency Notification Systems

Businesses that have implemented a mass emergency notification system to alert employees to the risk of danger most often populate the system´s contact list by synchronizing the system with an existing HR database. This is not only the quickest way to populate a contact list, but – with systems such as Rave Alert – businesses can import employee details by role, location, or other attribute.

Importing employee details by attribute gives system administrators the option to send alerts to selected employees rather than sending a mass notification to the entire database. This capability may be used to alert medically trained employees to a medical emergency, or to alert patrolling security teams to an intruder in a specific area of the workplace. 

Contact list segmentation has the advantage of discretely notifying key employees to an event that requires their attention while minimizing business disruption. It can also be a practical solution for connecting with employees working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. However, populating notification systems only via database synchronization can leave gaps in emergency preparedness.

This is because individuals such as temporary staff, visitors, and contractors are unlikely to be included in the source HR database; and although audible alarms may be in place to alert the occupants of a building to an emergency, individuals not in receipt of a mass notification message may not know whether to shelter in place, evacuate the building, or take some other action.

SMS Opt-In for Mass Emergency Notification Systems

SMS opt-in for mass emergency notification systems overcomes the problem of temporary staff, visitors, and contractors being excluded from emergency alerts by providing the opportunity to opt in to the mass notification database. By default, SMS opt-in enables individuals to receive alerts by text message, but the system can be configured to deliver alerts by other means if necessary.

SMS opt-in for mass emergency notification systems works in the same way as SMS marketing. Individuals wishing to be included in the mass notification database text a keyword to a short code number – for example ALERT to 654321. Then, when they no longer wish to be included in the mass notification database, they text STOP to the same short code number.

Alternatively, individuals can opt in to a mass notification database for a fixed period of time by texting specific keywords to the short code number. A good example of this option comes from New York University (NYU); which populates its mass emergency notification database automatically as students start their academic careers, but also gives temporary visitors the opportunity to enroll in NYU Alert via the SMS opt-in method. For example:

  •   Visitors wishing to enroll for 24 hours text NYUALERT1 to 67283
  •   Visitors wishing to enroll for one week text NYUALERT7 to 67283
  •   Visitors wishing to enroll for six months text NYUCOMMUNIT” to 67283

As soon as the selected time period expires, temporary visitors are sent a reminder with instructions on how to re-enroll. If visitors fail to re-enroll, their information is removed from NYU´s emergency notification database. It is a very simple process, and it enhances the safety of anyone participating in an NYU-Sponsored program - including visitors to the campus, program participants, and parents.

Further Use of Mass Notification Systems with SMS Opt-In Capabilities

Mass notification systems do not only have to be used for emergencies. The SMS opt-in method is also ideal for temporary visitors such as tourists, concert-goers, and conference delegates to provide information about attractions, facilities, and the timetable of events. Employers can also use the system to alert opted-in jobseekers of employment opportunities.

Using the NYU multi-keyword method of SMS opt-in/opt-out as an example, it is also possible to assign different attributes to individuals who opt-in to a mass notification database depending on the keyword used. For example, if a large employer wanted to use the system to notify job seekers of employment opportunities, but only wanted individuals with the appropriate skills to apply for them, the employer could use opt-in keywords such as:

Text JOBSIT to 334455 to receive details of IT employment opportunities

Text JOBENG to 334455 to receive details of engineering employment opportunities

Text JOBCAT to 334455 to receive details of catering employment opportunities 

There are no limits to how many keywords businesses can generate, or how many categories they can create. Therefore, it would be possible for employers to notify Spanish speaking job seekers of IT employment opportunities by using the keywords JOBITENG and JOBSITESP to distinguish between employment opportunities requiring English speakers and those requiring a knowledge of Spanish.

Find Out More about SMS Opt-In Mass Notification Systems

If you would like to know more about SMS opt-in mass notification systems, or would like to see how the theory works in practice, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to answer your questions and organize a free demo of Rave Alert and the platform´s SMS opt-in/opt-out capabilities.

The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

February 9, 2021 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Updated 7/27/2021—The latest on workplace violence statistics for 2021 is that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies have been able to publish figures relating to fatal and non-fatal injuries at work. From these figures it has been possible for health and safety experts to extract statistics relating to workplace violence.

Comparing these statistics with other sources of data, it is clear many businesses continue to under-report non-fatal injuries and illnesses at work. This under-reporting creates a misleading picture of violence in the workplace and - due to not acknowledging the issue - results in businesses failing to adequately protect employees.

The discrepancy between reported workplace violence and unreported workplace violence is expected to worsen when statistics for 2020 are produced. Despite many employees working remotely in the relative safety of their homes, those who have continued to work on-site during the pandemic have faced increasing levels of violence.

According to Bloomberg Law, public-facing employees have been screamed at, spat on, and assaulted for trying to enforce mask-wearing rules and, in November last year, we reported on how a Family Dollar security guard had been shot and killed for trying to enforce mask-wearing rules. It is doubtful many of the non-fatal incidents will appear in official workplace violence statistics.

Office workers have also been subject to COVID-19-related workplace violence. According to HR Daily Advisor, the stress of the pandemic has raised stress levels and lowered thresholds for confrontation over previously non-existent issues such as social distancing and hand hygiene. Again, we'll likely never know how many confrontations escalated into workplace violence.

The Scale of Under-Reporting is Widely Acknowledged

The under-reporting of workplace injuries and workplace violence is not a new phenomenon. In 2014, the American Journal of Industrial Medicine published a report in which it found 90% of surveyed organizations were not complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reporting regulations. The following year, NSC Injury Facts claimed large discrepancies existed between the number of reported injuries and the number of worker compensation claims.

In 2016, OSHA attempted to address the scale of under-reporting by issuing a Final Rule affecting the electronic reporting of injuries. Unfortunately, the Rule did not have the desired effect. In 2018, the Office of the Inspector General noted one of the top performance challenges facing the U.S. Department of Labor was how the department could best use its resources to help protect workers' safety and health, but the challenge was exacerbated by the underreporting of workplace injuries.

OSHA's electronic reporting rule was one of several employer accountability rules subsequently rolled back by the Trump administration, and there continue to be multiple reports in the media about the scale of workplace violence and the failure of businesses to protect employees from avoidable injuries – either because they are not aware of the scale of under-reporting, or because they are not legally compelled to do anything about it.

In this blog we will cover:

Why is Violence at Work Under-reported?

There are various reasons why violence at work is under-reported. The American Journal of Industrial Medicine report referenced above concluded businesses fail to report non-fatal injuries due to a lack of awareness, a lack of communication, and a lack of incentive. Due to the time it takes to complete Survey of Occupational Injury and Illness (SOII) reports, many businesses use whatever data is available at the time rather than implement accurate data collection and reporting processes.

However, around the same time as NSC Injury Facts was raising its concerns about under-reporting, Carol Fredrickson - a specialist in workplace conflict resolution - published her “7 Reasons Employees Don't Report Workplace Violence”. The list relates exclusively to employee-on-employee violence but concludes with a point exceptionally pertinent to the latest workplace violence statistics - many employees and employers do not understand how violence at work is defined.

How Violence at Work is Defined

According to the Workplace Violence Research Institute, workplace violence has two definitions. The first, the Institute claims, is one perpetrated by the media in which a disgruntled customer or employee takes a firearm to a place of work and shoots indiscriminately. Although an exaggerated example, this definition may explain why many employees and employers feel violence at work only occurs when an injury is sustained due to a physical attack.

The second definition is one more closely aligned to that provided by OSHA. The Administration's website states: “Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.” According to the latest workplace violence statistics released by the National Safety Council, physical assaults in the workplace resulted in 20,870 injuries and 454 fatalities in 2019.

The Most Dangerous Profession to Work in is Healthcare

In 2016, the New England Journal of Medicine published a comprehensive review of “Workplace Violence against Health Care Workers in the United States”.  The review included data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing healthcare workers are nearly four times as likely to require time away from work as a result of violence as they are because of other types of injury (the most common being back injuries, needle stick injuries, exposure to blood and body fluid, and smoke inhalation).

The review also reported that, although employees in the healthcare and social assistance sectors account for 12.2% of the working population (and despite there being the potential for under-reporting in other industries), nearly 75% of workplace assaults occurred in a healthcare setting.

Among other recent workplace violence incidents:

  • 80% of Emergency Medical Services personnel have been attacked by patients.
  • Homicide is the second leading cause of workplace death for home healthcare workers.
  • 78% of Emergency Department physicians and 100% of Emergency Department nurses have experienced violence from patients within the last year.
  • The annual incidence of physical assault in a psychiatric setting is 70%.
  • Among nursing homes with dementia units, 59% of nursing aides reported being assaulted by patients weekly and 16% daily.
  • 46% of nurses reported some form of workplace violence during their five most recent shifts.

Among workplace shootings in 2018-2019, it is worth noting that only four of the hospital shootings were included in the FBI's “Active Shooter Study” published in 2018. This is because the majority took place on hospital grounds, while those that took place inside an Emergency Department or on a ward were the result of the shooter removing a firearm from a security guard or law enforcement officer. This is another example of how the latest workplace violence statistics can create a misleading picture of violence in the workplace.

 

Measures to Prevent Workplace Violence

There are various measures that can be implemented to prevent workplace violence cases. The first is for employers to understand the OSHA definition of violence at work and implement policies that protect employees from the “threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site”. Should these events occur, the policies must be enforced, sanctions applied, and the incidents included on the SOII reports.

In circumstances where employees are at risk from physical assault, employers should implement mechanisms that can quickly alert security personnel and emergency services to an act of violence. According to our “Trends in Corporate Security Report” approximately 25% of businesses are unprepared for an active shooter incident, meaning the incident is frequently over before police respond and arrive at the scene.

Are Employers Failing to Prioritize Workplace Safety?

In our 2019-2020 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report, 30% of respondents said they were unaware or unsure of their employers' Emergency Preparedness Plans for the most common types of workplace emergencies. Higher percentages reported that although Emergency Preparedness Plans existed for severe weather events, medical emergencies, and system outages/cyberattacks, the plans were rarely or never tested.

This doesn't necessarily imply employers are failing to prioritize workplace safety. It's more likely their efforts are being focused in the wrong areas due to regulations requiring events such as the periodic testing of fire alarms and fire drill procedures. However, it was particularly noted in the report that more than a third of female respondents were unaware of workplace violence emergency plans, despite workplace violence being the second leading cause of death for women in the workplace.

Workplace Violence Statistics Demographics

Each year, the National Safety Council release an “Injury Facts” report revealing the number of injuries and days lost due to workplace assaults. By analyzing the source data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is possible to identify specific trends in workplace violence statistics - with the caveat that some trends may be attributable to the increased reporting of non-fatal injuries.

Non-Fatal Injuries

Intentional-Non-fatal-Injury-By-person21Non-fatal Injury By Person-Assault-Type21

Fatal Injuries

Intentional-Fatal-Injury-By-person21Fatal Injury By Person-Assault-Type21

What these bare workplace fatality statistics don't reveal is the unequal distribution by gender. In 2019, homicides accounted for 20% of fatal injury events for women, but only 7% of fatal injury events for men. Of the 444 workplace homicides in 2019, co-workers were responsible for 77 deaths, customers for 51 deaths, and relatives for 28 deaths. The remainder were attributable to outside actors.

Fatal Injury events by gender21

Most Dangerous States to Work In

Because California, Texas, Florida, and New York have larger working populations than other states, there are naturally more accidents in these states. However, this does not mean they are the most dangerous states to work in. Our analysis of BLS data sorted states by their relative sizes and the number of accidents in each to determine which the ten most dangerous states to work in actually are.

10 Most dangerous states to work in

Other Workplace Violence Takeaways from Around the Web

- The healthcare industry makes up 9% of the U.S. workforce, yet healthcare professionals experience more workplace violence injuries than all other industries combinedTypes of Workplace Violence_Graphic


 The third leading cause of death for workers in the healthcare and professional services industries (education, law, and media) is workplace violence

 More on education: 44% of teachers reported being physically attacked while at school within one year

-  Employees with potential to commit workplace violence tend to exhibit 8 behaviors such as acting out of character or exhibiting addictive habits

 The two most common traits when it comes to those who commit white-collar workplace violence are narcissism and psychopathy

 Workplace Violence Financial Data

 $3 or more is saved for each dollar invested in workplace safety

 $121 billion annual losses are attributed to workplace assaults

 Domestic violence issues that are brought to the workplace cost nearly $727 million in lost productivity

 Workplace catastrophes such as violent incidents have caused publicly-traded companies to lose close to 8% in shareholder value

 Lawsuits associated with workplace violence cost companies an average of $500,000 for out-of-court settlements

Workplace Shootings, Active Shooters

Despite lockdowns and stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, a record 610 mass shootings (in which four or more people were injured or killed by gunfire) occurred in 2020. Although the majority of these were not related to workplace violence, there is evidence to suggest workplace shootings in 2021 are on the increase as offices, shops, and factories re-open.

Already this year, there have been four mass workplace shootings in which a current or former employee – or an individual with a “personal or business relationship” – has killed four or more people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Four incidents out of hundreds of mass shootings so far this year implies workplace shootings are rare, but there are hundreds of workplace violence incidents each year not recorded because fewer than four people were injured by gunfire.

According to the Washington Post, 25% of non-gang related or suicide related shootings since 1966 have occurred at workplaces; while according to an FBI study of active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, 70% of incidents are within a commercial, business, or educational setting. Although the FBI uses different criteria to classify active shooter incidents, the outcomes are much the same – hundreds of employees die or are injured each year due to a potentially preventable event.

How Prepared are Employers for Workplace Shootings?

In 2017, we surveyed a cross section of customers to identify Trends in Corporate Security and found that 25% of companies were unprepared for active shooter incidents. Furthermore, while 75% of respondents claimed to have policies and procedures in place to protect the workplace against active shooters, gaps exist in some emergency action plans between the start of the event and the arrival of first responders – during which time the incident still has to be managed.

These “incident gaps” typically occur between the activation of an emergency alert and the establishment of an incident management platform; and although the gap may only last several minutes, any lack of management during an incident gap can result in increased fatalities and injuries. Therefore, during this time, it is important to keep employees aware of how the incident is progressing, so they don't place themselves in unnecessary danger.

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A Tactical Incident Collaboration platform can fill any incident gap by triggering a pre-configured series of communications as soon as an emergency alert is activated – even when the alert is activated remotely. The communications can alert employees to the threat of an active shooter, prompt security personnel with reminders of their roles and responsibilities, and accelerate situational awareness for incident commanders before command platforms are established.

Every action taken is automatically ticked off the emergency action plan; and, if an action isn't taken, backup personnel can be alerted to an outstanding task. With a tactical incident collaboration platform, organizations can easily monitor timers as well as escalate delayed actions and tasks to keep response moving forward and communications flowing – thus mitigating business disruption and accelerating recovery from the active shooter incident or any other critical event.

Justifying a Tactical Incident Collaboration Platform

The likelihood of a business experiencing an active shooter event is increasing all the time. The stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, job losses, the economic crisis, and the fact that gun purchase background checks increased by 69% last year are factors that concern security experts, while insurance companies have increased premiums for active shooter insurance policies by as much as 50%. (The Virginia Tech shooting reportedly cost $48.2 million in litigation and recovery costs).

While the likelihood of an active shooter event may not be sufficiently high in some industries to justify the implementation of a tactical incident collaboration platform, it is important to note the platform can be used to reduce response times, mitigate business disruption, and accelerate recovery in many other emergency and scenarios – for example, severe weather events and cyberattacks that knock out network connections and regular communication channels.

Furthermore, tactical incident collaboration platforms are ideal for running tabletop exercises, organizing routine security and maintenance events, and empowering employees to take responsibility for workplace security. The platform can also be configured to receive anonymous reports of workplace violence and conduct daily mental health wellness checks to help identify unsettled employees before they become violent.

If you would like to find out more about the uses of a tactical incident collaboration platform, do not hesitate to get in touch and request a free demo of the platform in action.

FAQs

Is bullying considered to be workplace violence?

Bullying - either by a colleague or an employer - was acknowledged as an act of workplace violence by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 1998. In the publication “Dealing with Workplace Violence” (PDF), the agency notes that not only can bullying be a form of intimidation, it can also be an indicator of potentially violent physical behavior.

Is there protection against retaliation when you report workplace violence?

An employer should have policies in place to protect employees who report workplace violence from retaliation. If an employer fails to protect an employee from retaliation - or is the perpetrator of the workplace violence - OSHA operates a whistleblower protection program and has previously taken employers to court for retaliating against employees.

What is indirect workplace violence?

Workplace violence doesn't necessarily have to be physical or verbal. Online harassment via email, text, or chat apps is also considered to be workplace violence, even when the perpetrator does not communicate directly with the victim - for example spreading false gossip about an individual by mass email or social media.

What is “Quid pro Quo” sexual harassment?

Quid pro quo translates as “this for that”, and the term relates to any form of harassment in which something of value is offered in return for a “favor”. While a victim of quid pro quo can benefit from this type of workplace violence, the potential exists for the victim to be subsequently blackmailed to keep the something of value offered to them (i.e., a promotion).

Are lone workers more likely to be victims of workplace violence?

While there is no data to suggest lone workers are more or less likely to be victims of workplace violence, it is certainly the case they are more vulnerable - especially during the early morning or late evening. Employers should conduct risk assessments and implement measures to reduce the likelihood of a lone worker becoming a victim of workplace violence.

Within what timescale must an incident of workplace violence be reported?

While the length of time allowed for reporting workplace violence varies according to workplace policies, workplace violence that results in a fatality must be reported to OSHA within 8 hours, and inpatient hospitalizations within 24 hours. With regards to reporting retaliation to OSHA, the time limit is 30 days after the retaliatory event.

What is a workplace violence app?

A workplace violence app is a mobile app that can be used by employees to anonymously report incidents to designated corporate safety leaders. Two-way messaging allows employees to submit reports along with text and images. Some workplace violence apps also have a virtual escort feature that provides additional security for employees on the clock who have to travel to different locations as part of their job.

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

The Obstacles Standing in the Way of Streamlined Employee Communication

February 2, 2021 Blog Author: Carolyn Berk

As organizations consider what the future of the workplace will look like, they can’t ignore one particular challenge – employee communication. Efficient and effective employee communication has been a common struggle even before the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, many companies are focusing on more immediate challenges, such as adjusting to long-term remote work and observing new health and safety regulations without disrupting operations.

But even once workplaces fully reopen and travel resumes, several persistent hurdles can remain in the way of fully streamlined employee communication. Here’s what your company needs to address now to establish truly streamlined employee communication across your organization.

Combating communication fatigue

By now, multiple studies have warned about mass burnout among workers in all industries. In addition to the personal stressors that come with working from home, workers say they’re buried in a digital overload of video meetings, messages, and notifications that have replaced interactions they would have traditionally had in-person.

This communication fatigue can have an impact beyond employee’s productivity and wellbeing. They may grow accustomed to tuning out notifications, which means they may also miss important alerts and messages from their employer. 80% of surveyed company leaders saying they’ll allow working from home even once workplaces are fully reopen. This means a scalable and more robust communication strategy is needed now to avoid seeing your messages reduced to white noise.

Organizations can avoid this outcome with the right toolkit of communication capabilities. If evaluating your employee or critical communication platform is one of your company goals for 2021, then keep an eye out for solutions that will allow you to:

  • Segment large groups of recipients so that employees only receive communication that pertains to their needs
  • Using a multi-channel communication strategy (including push messages, desktop alerts, voice, text, etc.) to best reach people no matter where they are located
  • Provide easily accessible resources so employees can always find information about company benefits, guidance or policies

Related Blog: How To Craft A Long Term Remote Work Plan

Facilitate communication and collaboration when it matters most

Even prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the ability for departments to easily communicate and collaborate with each other was critical. This capability is necessary for all sorts of day-to-day efforts, whether it’s targeted communication from Human Resources or a building-wide routine update from IT. 

This isn’t just important for business continuity and productivity. Departments must be able to quickly communicate and collaborate in times of emergency. If an incident were to occur, key stakeholders in your organization would need to be instantly notified. They would also need to immediately sync up and receive information as the event unfolds.

This is a lot to ask of those who are responsible for workplace safety. However, automation can make these tasks happen without any additional effort.

For example, if someone reports an armed building intruder, several things need to occur simultaneously, including notifying 9-1-1, alerting employees, and gathering key decision makers on a single conference line. Solutions that automatically perform these tasks can help ensure that everyone reacts as quickly as possible to any health or safety risks. It's also helpful to have:

  • Pre-made templates to speed up responding to events and alerting employees
  • Data management that frequently updated via freshness checks
  • Alerting designated groups when an incident occurs

Related Blog: What is Tactical Incident Collaboration?

Proactively addressing employee safety needs and concerns

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Employers were already at risk of being targeted by lawsuits related to issues like violence in the workplace. But now, employers are also worried about lawsuits surrounding the coronavirus. According to litigation data trackers, there have already been thousands of lawsuits filed against employers with allegations relating to the outbreak.  If workers’ safety needs and concerns are not heard and addressed, organizations risk facing even more.

When employees can voice their complaints in a secure and anonymous way, organizations can address and deescalate these issues early on. The option to have their identity remain confidential also helps workers feel safe about voicing anything concerning the safety and wellness of themselves or their coworkers.

However, anonymous reporting may not be necessary if employers take the initiative by openly sending polls to employees. With this ability, it will never be difficult to gauge sentiment about things such as whether people feel safe returning to the workplace or if they would prefer to remain remote.  Even the act of polling employees for their opinions shows workers their feelings and opinions matter, something that goes a long way towards boosting overall engagement and morale.

Related Blog: Are Tech Companies Influencing the New Norm for Workplaces?

Taking the first steps towards streamlining employee communication

Like everything else, teamwork is required to establish a foundation for better communication. Learn how Seaboard Foods improved communication with its 5,000 employees while simultaneously addressing new obstacles that arose during the ongoing pandemic.

Streamlining Employee Communication Across Your Organization

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Net Workplace Deaths Are on the Rise

January 26, 2021 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the way in which workplace accidents are classified to prevent the potential for duplicated reporting. Consequently, had there been the same number of workplace deaths in 2018 and 2019, the Bureau's statistics for 2019 should have indicated fewer deaths due to the elimination of duplications.

According to a Department of Labor press release in December 2020, the number of workplace deaths in the U.S. increased by 2 percent in 2019 to 5,333. While some of the increase could be attributable to a larger workforce and the lowest unemployment rates for more than ten years, the rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 Full Time Equivalents remained unchanged from 2018.

Assuming there were duplications in the data from previous years (because otherwise the revisions to the classifications would have been unnecessary), this implies the net rate of fatal injuries in 2019 increased as well as the overall number of workplace deaths. The reason the net rate of fatal injuries is important is because it will be the measure by which workplace safety in 2020 is measured.

Related Blog: What will the New Workplace Landscape look like?

The Issue with Measuring Workplace Safety in 2020

It is safe to assume there will be a significant reduction in the number of workplace injuries in 2020 as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic closing many businesses. However, it is also the case there will be fewer Full Time Equivalents to compare injuries against due to record unemployment rates during the first half of the year and ongoing high levels of unemployment by the year-end.

A further consideration is that millions of employees worked remotely from the relative safety of their homes in 2020 rather than in workplace environments. This will not only reduce the number of workplace accidents; but, if remote workers are counted in the Department of Labor's statistics, it will reduce the net rate of workplace injuries and give a false impression of workplace safety.

Although the Department of Labor's statistics won´t be prepared for several months yet, data released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows there are still hundreds of workplace accidents every day and frequent workplace deaths. Tragically, many of these deaths are avoidable and attributable to human error and poor communication.

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Addressing Human Error and Poor Communication

Human error is estimated to be attributable for 80 percent of accidents in the workplace; and, according to Pennsylvania´s Temple University, there are four main reasons for human error:

  • A lack of knowledge
  • A lack of skill (to apply the knowledge)
  • Human limitations (in physically demanding jobs)
  • Poor safety attitudes (undisciplined, overconfident, impatient, etc.)

While Temple University does not recommend solutions for reducing human error, there are many sources advocating communication as one of the best tools for addressing the issue. Safety experts agree employees should have an identified means of communication, that every employee should be encouraged to use the communication channel if it is not clear what they are supposed to do or how they are supposed to do it, and that protocols should exist to keep communications timely.

Furthermore, to be effective, the communication channel should be universal (i.e., one that every employee knows how to use) and always available. The logic behind these criteria is that, if an employee does not know how to use the communication channel, they may not attempt to use it; and, if it is not immediately available, the risk exists the employee may adopt a poor safety attitude (i.e., impatience) and make a judgement call without full knowledge of the correct procedures.

Related Blog: From PTO to RTO: How Employee Communication Has Changed in 2020

Solutions to Reduce the Trend of Increasing Workplace Deaths

A number of solutions can improve workplace communications, but few meet the criteria of being universal and always available. One solution that does meet the criteria is an SMS-based mass notification platform with two-way connectivity, unlimited database segmentation, and geo-polling capabilities. This is because almost everyone of working age has a mobile device capable of communicating via SMS and knows how to use it, and 94 percent carry their devices at all times.

SMS-based mass notification systems have the advantages of being effective in noisy environments and being able to connect with remote workers in areas with no Internet signal. They can be used by safety officers to connect with groups of employees simultaneously, or by individual employees to report safety concerns and ask for advice. They are also the best way to alert entire workforces to events responsible for the other 20 percent of workplace deaths – natural and manmade disasters.

Finally, in addition to the practical benefits of implementing an SMS-based mass notification platform, employees prefer receiving work-related communications via SMS according to our 2020 survey on employees´ perception of workplace safety and preparedness. You can find out more about this preference, and disconnects between the most common types of emergencies and the preparedness plans in place, by downloading our Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report.

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Are Tech Companies Influencing the New Norm for Workplaces?

January 19, 2021 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

The ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the growing realization they may last another year - is forcing companies to reconsider how they will maintain business continuity in the long term. One of the most significant considerations for many companies is how they can best utilize workplaces in the “new norm”.

Some companies – particularly tech companies – have invested a considerable amount of money in their real estate. In 2016 it was reported Uber is spending around $250 million acquiring and renovating office space; in 2018 BuildZoom calculated Microsoft had spent $169 million updating its Redmond headquarters; and, in 2019, Apple's new donut-shaped headquarters in Cupertino was valued at $4.17 billion – making it one of the most expensive workplaces in the world.

Unfortunately, for most of 2020, these buildings were virtually empty due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic - along with more than half of all workplaces according to the Brivo Commercial Reopening Index. Looking ahead to 2021, the likelihood is that workplaces will continue to remain half empty until such time as the population achieves herd immunity – creating long-term operational challenges for companies due to the continuation of social distancing requirements.

Related Blog: How To Craft A Long Term Remote Work Plan

The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

At the start of the pandemic, as stay-at-home orders were issued around the country, many office-based companies were able to maintain business continuity by equipping employees to work from home. As a short-term solution, remote working was successful. Remote working doesn´t appear to have negative consequences for productivity, and – according to Forbes – the vast majority of employees felt their employers “took appropriate measures to address the situation” at the time.

As time has gone on, the negative impacts of long-term remote working have become apparent. Companies have identified challenges with on-boarding, training, and security, while employees have reported physical and emotional burnout due to a work/life imbalance and a lack of personal interaction with work colleagues. Indeed, one survey reported 94% of remote workers were keen to return to the office, with almost half of them expressing a preference for returning full-time.

GET THE INFOGRAPHIC: Navigating the New Workplace Landscape

The Challenge of Deciding Who Works Where and When

With such substantial investments in their real estate and faced with operational challenges for long term business continuity, companies want to utilize workplaces as much as possible. However, in most cases, it will not be possible to return every employee to the workplace full time; and more likely the new norm will include hybrid work schedules, split shifts, or keeping some employees at home full time while others return to the workplace full time.

Deciding who works where and when is a challenge. Some employees will work better in an environment where they can achieve a work/life balance and get the interaction they need. Others may need to work from home for personal reasons (i.e., to care for an elderly relative they are no longer willing to place in a care home) or may wish to continue working remotely due to return anxiety – a condition that affected 65% of respondents to a UK survey.

How Tech Companies are Tackling this Challenge

Tech companies are most often associated with innovation, but the way in which most are tackling the challenge of determining the new norm for workplaces dates back almost a century to the first employee attitude surveys. Historically, employee attitude/engagement/lifecycle surveys were completed once a year or whenever an employee left a company; but, in recent years, they have become more frequent “check-ins” on the pulse of employee sentiment.

Tech companies have adopted “pulse surveys” and taken them to a new level – using them as early warning systems for employee dissatisfaction, to measure the effectiveness of action plans, or – in the current environment - to understand how employees feel about returning to the workplace. Dell, Google, Slack, and Zoom are among many tech companies making decisions about long-term business continuity based on employee feedback.

How Pulse Surveys Work

Compared to employee attitude surveys which often have more than twenty statements to rate, pulse surveys most often consist of just four or five statements relevant to the moment in time. Because there are fewer statements, pulse surveys omit the “nice to know” statements (i.e., “I plan to continue my career with this company for at least two years”) and include only action-focused statements and measurement-focused statements - examples of which follow later.

Another difference to employee attitude/engagement/lifecycle surveys that rate statements from 0 to 10 - for example Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) surveys – is that pulse surveys typically stick to the “Strongly Agree/Agree/Neutral/Disagree/Strongly Disagree” format. This gives tech companies a clearer picture of employee sentiment and actionable insights into how to best plan ahead in order to maintain long term business continuity.

Non-Internet-Based Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys have quickly caught on among other companies; and while some non-tech companies may have actually adopted them first, the volume at which tech companies are using pulse surveys to determine the new norm for workplaces has certainly influenced the trend. However, software-based pulse surveys are not necessarily the best option for companies whose employees may not have 24/7 Internet connectivity – or indeed any Internet connectivity at all.

It is worth noting that only half of adults with incomes of $30,000 or less have home broadband; and that, although 95% of low income workers have a mobile device, only 71% of people in this income bracket own a smartphone. Therefore, a more effective way to conduct pulse surveys in these circumstances is to take advantage of Rave Alert's SMS geo-polling capabilities, as these will reach employees' cellphones regardless of whether they have a connection to the Internet or not.

Example Statements to Use in a Pulse Survey

While there are plenty of example pulse survey statements available on the Internet, it is important each company tailors its own statements to address long-term business continuity concerns relevant to its workforce, relevant to the industry the company operates in, and relevant to its location. For example, there is no point copying and pasting a pulse survey send to software engineers in California if your company manages properties in Massachusetts.

As mentioned above, the statements should be action-focused or measurement-focused and give employees the option to rate the statement Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. In the context of helping decide who works where and when – or, if a return to work is not yet possible, to help determine where remote working improvements could be made – versions of these statements should certainly be included in an initial pulse survey:

Q (Action Statement): I feel comfortable returning to the workplace and confident the company has appropriate safety measures in place.

  • Press #1 if you strongly agree with this statement
  • Press #2 if you agree with this statement
  • Press #3 if you are neutral about this statement
  • Press #4 if you disagree with this statement
  • Press #5 if you strongly disagree with this statement

Q (Measurement Statement): I feel highly connected to my team as we work remotely.

  • Press #1 if you strongly agree with this statement
  • Press #2 if you agree with this statement
  • Press #3 if you are neutral about this statement
  • Press #4 if you disagree with this statement
  • Press #5 if you strongly disagree with this statement

Based on the responses to these statements, companies can determine whether they are doing a good job in communicating the safety measures that have been implemented in the workplace, or if improvements need to be made in connecting team members working remotely. It is also possible to add “open-text” statements such as “What are your top two concerns you'd like us to consider to get through the COVID-19 situation?” but to start, it is always better to keep the format simple.

Find Out More about Cost-Effective SMS Pulse Surveys

If your company is concerned about maintaining business continuity in the long term and how it can best utilize the workplace in the “new norm”, do not hesitate to get in touch and request a free demo of Rave Alert´s SMS geo-polling capabilities in action. Our team will be happy to demonstrate the ease with which you can set up SMS-based pulse surveys, monitor responses, and address any communication issues between teams working remotely or in the workplace.

Footnote: Tech companies are not only using pulse surveys to determine how best they can utilize workplace in the new norm. Dell also uses the technology to conduct customer sentiment surveys, while the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a regular small business pulse survey, and PwC invites business leaders to participate in CFO pulse surveys. Effectively, there are many different ways in which companies of all sizes can take advantage of Rave Alert´s geo-polling capabilities.

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

Defining FedRAMP and its Connection to Public Safety Grade Infrastructure

January 14, 2021 Blog Author: Todd Miller

Whenever data is collected, processed, or shared by a federal agency via a cloud service, or the data is stored in the cloud, the cloud service is subject to the requirements of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) - a government cloud security program that authorizes cloud services for federal agency use. 

However, when a service provider achieves a FedRAMP authorization, it is not a one-time seal of approval as a trusted vendor. Following the authorization, the vendor must implement a continuous monitoring process that includes monthly meetings with federal agency customers to discuss the security of the environment and ensure the highest level of security hygiene is maintained. 

This ongoing process not only has advantages for federal agencies. Non-federal public agencies, other local government organizations, and private enterprises can leverage the assessments that have already been done on a FedRAMP-authorized service to accelerate their own evaluation and onboarding processes, safe in the knowledge that a FedRAMP-authorized service is going to be a reliable and secure solution. 

The Background to FedRAMP 

The timeline of government cloud security goes back to 1987, when Congress passed the Computer Security Act (HR 145). The Act directed the National Bureau of Standards - now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - to develop a computer standards and security program for federal computer systems based on National Security Agency´s guidelines for protecting sensitive information. 

A subsequent Act of Congress - the Information Technology Management Reform Act 1996 (S 1124) - standardized the infrastructures of federal government agencies, while one of the requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act 2002 (FISMA - HR 3844) was for each federal agency to implement policies and procedures to cost-effectively reduce information technology security risks.Manufacturer Mass NotificationHow the FedRAMP Program came into Existence    

In order to comply with this requirement of FISMA, each federal agency had to produce an inventory of information systems, categorize data and systems according to risk level, implement security controls, conduct risk assessments to demonstrate the effectiveness of the security controls, and document a system security plan which should be accredited as being compliant with NIST 800-37. 

The process of complying with FISMA was complicated; and because federal agencies had previously been required to standardize infrastructures, compliance efforts were often being duplicated throughout the federal government. To reduce the level of duplication among agencies, inconsistencies in accreditation, and cost inefficiencies, several agencies got together and devised FedRAMP. 

How FedRAMP Streamlines Government Cloud Security 

FedRAMP was launched in 2011 with the objective of authorizing specific cloud services that were suitable for government cloud security. Under the program, a Joint Authorization Board assesses and authorizes “cloud service offerings” so they can be used by any federal, state, or local government agency without each agency having to independently conduct risk assessments. 

Because only cloud service offerings authorized by the Joint Authorization Board can be used to collect, process, share, or store federal data, this limits the choice for government agencies. However, the limited choice reduces the time spent evaluating services, eliminates inconsistencies in accreditation, and - because of the government´s significant purchasing power – federal agencies benefit from cost discounts. 

The Connection to Public Safety Grade Infrastructure 

According to the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), a public safety grade infrastructure is one in which services within the infrastructure have a minimum “Five-Nines” or 99.999% reliability. To achieve this level of reliability, the services must remain operational during and immediately following a major natural or manmade disaster on a local, regional, and nationwide basis. 

Developing a public safety grade service with the required reliability is no guarantee of FedRAMP authorization, and FedRAMP authorization is no guarantee of Five-Nine's reliability. However, in order to achieve FedRAMP authorization, a service must have mechanisms in place to ensure the confidentiality of data, integrity of data, and availability of data. The higher the FedRAMP impact level, the more these criteria are scrutinized in the authorization process. 

FedRAMP Impact Levels Explained 

There are three FedRAMP impact levels – low, medium, and high. The low impact rating is reserved for cloud services that do not create, process, or store critical information so that, if the service were compromised, the loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability would result in limited adverse effects on a federal agency’s operations, assets, or individuals. To achieve a low impact FedRAMP authorization, the service must pass 125 controls. 

Achieving a moderate impact rating (326 controls) or a high impact rating (421 controls) is much tougher because, if the services in these categories were to be compromised, there would be a serious, severe, or catastrophic adverse effect on operations, assets, or individuals. For this reason, law enforcement systems, emergency services systems, financial systems, and health systems tend to use cloud services with a moderate or high level FedRAMP authorization. 

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Public Safety Grade, FedRAMP-Authorized Critical Communication Services 

With regards tocritical communication services, it is important they are available when you need them, and that data collected, processed, shared, or stored by the services is secure. There is no room for delays at the start of an emergency event, and even less for data breaches that can expose personal information when an organization is trying to be the source of reliable information for communities, employees, or parents. 

Therefore, even if your organization is not a federal agency, it is in your best interests to implement a public safety grade, FedRAMP-authorized critical communication service. As mentioned previously, implementing a service that has already passed the federal government´s controls accelerate the evaluation and onboarding processes, and provides an assurance that the service is going to be a reliable and secure solution. 

 

Speak with Rave about Critical Communication Services 

Backed by public safety grade infrastructure, sending over 1.2 billion notifications annually and more than 4,000 SMS (Short Message Service) messages/second, Rave Alert recently acquired a FedRAMP moderate impact level authorization. Therefore, if your organization is looking for a public safety grade, FedRAMP authorized critical communications service, you are invited to contact our team of experts to discuss the benefits of the Rave 911 Suite. Rave Alert Employee Communications

How do Businesses Avoid Bringing Back Exposed Workers Too Soon?

January 12, 2021 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

In early December, it was widely reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had changed its guidance with regards to how long people should quarantine after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for – or is strongly suspected to have – COVID-19.

However, when you read the CDC's brief, the guidance hasn't changed at all. The agency still recommends a quarantine period of fourteen days and suggests options to reduce the period of quarantine to ten or seven days based on a combination of local circumstances, diagnostic testing, and symptom monitoring.

Nonetheless, because of the way in which the news was reported, many organizations and public health agencies have adopted ten-day quarantine policies in high-risk areas without the resources available to support diagnostic testing and symptom monitoring – potentially putting whole communities at risk of infection.

For businesses, the situation is exacerbated by many employees wanting to get back to work as soon as possible. While this might be good for productivity, the risk exists of more widespread infection among workforces, potentially disrupting business operations and leading to COVID-19 personal injury claims. So, how do businesses avoid bringing back exposed workers too soon?

Related Blog: What will the New Workplace Landscape look like?

The Reasons Behind the Revised Quarantine Guidance

The CDC's original fourteen-day guidance was based on an analysis of COVID-19 cases reported in early 2020. The analysis found that the median incubation period for the virus (the time between exposure and symptom onset) was five days, and that 97.5% of people who developed symptoms of COVID-19 did so within 11.5 days – although some did not develop symptoms until Day 16.

While the guidance is only guidance (local governments have the power to determine their own quarantine rules), fourteen-day quarantine policies were widely adopted. However, according to the CDC's December brief, this had the consequence of imposing “personal burdens that may affect physical and mental health as well as cause economic hardship that may reduce compliance”.

To address the issues and encourage compliance with quarantine guidance, the CDC now suggests two options to reduce the quarantine period from fourteen days to ten or seven days:

  • Option 1: If the individual has been monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 – and no symptoms have been reported – quarantine can end after Day 10 provided symptom monitoring and mask wearing continues until Day 14 and the individual is counselled on mitigation strategies such as social distancing.
  • Option 2: Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring, provided symptom monitoring and mask wearing continues until Day 14 and the individual is counselled on mitigation strategies such as social distancing.

Although the options to reduce quarantine periods have been positively received as an acceptable balance, it is important to note diagnostic specimen tests have to be conducted forty-eight hours prior to the end of quarantine. In the case of Option 2, this means on Day 5 - which was the median incubation day in the CDC's original analysis, implying half of active cases could be missed.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

It didn't take long for the “balancing act” to go wrong. On November 30th, Santa Clara County announced a mandatory fourteen-day quarantine for people entering the region from more than 150 miles away. Three days later, following the CDC's brief, the county changed its quarantine policy to ten days – despite not having the resources to conduct sufficient diagnostic specimen tests.

On the day the original fourteen-day quarantine was announced, the county reported 760 new cases of COVID-19, 239 COVID-related hospitalizations, and 71 patients in intensive care units. Two weeks after the revised quarantine policy was announced, the county reported 1,668 new cases of COVID-19, 608 COVID-related hospitalizations, and 85 patients in intensive care units.

It is not automatically the case the 120% increase in infections and 155% increase in hospitalizations are attributable to a reduction in the quarantine period, it is likely to have been a contributory factor. Quite possibly there is also a misunderstanding about how long a person remains infectious after symptom onset (hint: it is typically longer than 14 days from the date of exposure).

The Risk of Reducing Quarantine Periods for Businesses

While the CDC's two options may be suitable for accelerating a return to work, they have their risks. Compared to a median Post Quarantine Transmission Risk (PQTR) of 0.1% when employees have quarantined for fourteen days, Option 1 has a median PQTR of 1.4% and Option 2 a PQTR of 10.7% due to the high number of asymptomatic people who contract the virus but never display symptoms.

Therefore, before changing employee quarantining policies to account for the CDC's revised guidance, businesses should conduct a risk assessment to determine the consequences of requiring employees to return to work four days earlier (14x enhanced risk of a workplace outbreak) or seven days earlier (107x enhanced risk) - notwithstanding different virus variants act in different ways.

The risk assessments should take into account factors such as local transmission rates, the measures put in place to mitigate workplace transmission of the virus, and the cost of employees being absent for four or seven days longer compared to the potential cost to the business if an employee who has been exposed to the virus returns to work while they are still infectious.

The Benefit of Reducing Quarantine Periods for Employees

The motive behind the CDC suggesting options to reduce quarantine periods in order to increase compliance with quarantine guidance is flawed. Research conducted in April 2020 found that the majority of people are complying with lockdown and quarantine orders despite “the personal costs of compliance” such as the impact on personal income, employment, and social relationships.

While it is true the research was conducted fairly early into the pandemic - and prior to the emergence of pandemic fatigue - it is also true that people are becoming more accustomed to self-quarantining, that contact tracing agencies are monitoring for compliance, and that options exist for “involuntary quarantining” when individuals are considered to be a threat to the community.

However, it has become apparent that during the pandemic the nation´s mental health has suffered. Prior to the pandemic, one-in-five adults reported having a mental health issue, while in July 2020 the CDC reported two-in-five adults report struggling with mental health or substance use. According to one survey, 63% of people have more difficulty concentrating than before the pandemic started.

The statistic relating to concentration is a major concern for businesses, who won't want employees returning to work with concentration issues. However, an article published in The Lancet suggests people who quarantine for ten days or fewer suffer lower levels of distress than those who quarantined for more than ten days. Therefore, it can be in the best interests of both businesses and employees to adopt ten-day quarantine policies - provided the return to work is managed safely.

Using Technology to Manage a Safe Return to Work

In addition to recommending the shortest necessary quarantine period, the Lancet article provides five further key messages about reducing the psychological impact of quarantine. Although the messages are targeted at public health officials, they are equally applicable to businesses wanting to safely bring back employees who have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus:

#1 Information is key; people who are quarantined need to understand the situation

Due to the volume of misinformation circulating about COVID-19, it is not only important employees receive accurate information, but also that it comes from a credible source. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, employers (76%) are considered more trustworthy than the government (49%) or mainstream media (49%), and therefore COVID-related information communicated by an employer is more likely to be believed.

While it is not necessary to go to the extremes some businesses have (i.e., bringing doctors in on team calls to explain how the virus spreads), it is important that quarantine policies and return to work protocols are clearly explained to all employees so they have reasonable expectations about the length of quarantine, the conditions that have to be fulfilled to reduce the length of quarantine, and the measures they will be expected to comply with on their return.

#2 Effective and rapid communication is essential

Communicating consistent messages to all employees simultaneously can be difficult when some employees are on-premises and others are working from home or self-quarantining - or when some employees have access to the Internet and other don't. Consequently, the method used for communicating COVID-related information is also important in order for it to be effective.

In almost use cases, the most effective method of communication is SMS texting as everybody is familiar with how SMS texting works, no Internet connection is required to send or receive an SMS text, and SMS texting supports two-way communication. For businesses, the quickest way to send SMS texts to large groups of employees is via a mass SMS texting platform such as Rave Alert.

#3 Supplies need to be provided

While this key message is more relevant to public health agencies (in terms of general and medical supplies), it is important businesses provide hand washing facilities, hand sanitizer, and face masks to mitigate the risk of transmission in the workplace. Employees should be informed these supplies exist, and guidance should be provided on how often hands should be sanitized (CDC guidance can be found here) and how frequently masks should be changed (daily according to the WHO).

Two capabilities of the Rave Alert platform can help promote COVID safety in the workplace – message scheduling and database segmentation. Using these capabilities, businesses can send periodic reminders to employees to sanitize their hands and schedule the reminders for different groups of employees at different times in order to prevent large groups of employees visiting sanitation stations simultaneously in breach of social distancing best practices.

#4 and #5 Encouragement is better than enforcement

The fourth and fifth key messages share a common theme. #4 states “most adverse effects come from the imposition of a restriction of liberty; voluntary quarantine is associated with less distress and fewer long-term complications”; while #5 states “[public health officials] should emphasize the altruistic choice of self-isolating” - the common theme being encouragement is better than enforcement; but, for this to happen, the issue of presenteeism may need to be addressed.

In “normal times”, presenteeism – or employees coming to work when they are sick – is tolerated by many businesses because it shows a certain level of dedication and reduces the management headache of covering absences. During the COVID pandemic however, there should be no circumstances in which presenteeism is tolerated because a sick employee may well transmit their illness to other members of the workforce and cause more significant disruption in the long term.

Not only should businesses advise employees of a zero-tolerance presenteeism policy and encourage them to self-isolate for the general good when they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for – or is strongly suspected to have – COVID-19, but they should also conduct proactive wellness checks on employees. Ideally, the wellness checks should be conducted before the start of the working day and away from the workplace, rather than “at the factory gate”.

With Rave Alert's geo-polling capabilities, remote wellness checks can consist of a simple SMS text message in a Q&A format which employees respond to by pressing a key on their mobile device.

Watch: Geo-poll in Action

An example of how this might work is:

A text message is sent an hour before a shift is due to start asking if the recipients have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus or are experiencing any symptoms of the virus. Sample answers might include –

Press #1 for “As far as I know, I have not been exposed to COVID-19 and have no symptoms”

Press #2 for “Someone in my household has tested positive for COVID-19 but I have no symptoms”

Press #3 for “I don´t think I have been exposed to COVID-19, but I have a headache and fever”

Press #4 for “My partner is waiting for the results of a test after being exposed. I have no symptoms”

The platform records every response (and every non-response) and can be configured to send secondary messages according to how recipients have responded to the initial Q&A. Depending on the results of the business's risk assessment and any subsequent policy changes, the secondary messages may be:

Message to employees responding #1: Glad to hear it. Look forward to seeing you later.

Message to employees responding #2: Please start a period of self-isolation. We´ll be in touch.

Message to employees responding #3: Please organize a test. Do not come to work.

Message to employees responding #4: Do not come to work until the results of the test are known

Further Use Cases for Rave Alert's Geo-Polling Capability

The geo-polling capability of the Rave Alert platform not only helps with addressing the issue of presenteeism. Once employees have been advised to refrain from coming to work until the results of a test are known or until a period of self-quarantine is finished, businesses can keep in touch via the geo-polling capability in order to support quarantine compliance and symptom monitoring – possibly enabling employees to take advantage of the CDC´s options for an early return to work.

While affected employees are away from the workplace, businesses can also use the geo-polling capability to cover absences. This will involve sending a geo-poll to the group of employees most capable of covering a sick colleague's duties (once again making use of the database segmentation capability); and - to prevent responses continuing after the absences have been covered – the geo-poll can be configured to automatically close once sufficient positive responses have been received.

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

4 Critical Workplace Safety Resolutions for 2021

January 6, 2021 Blog Author: Carolyn Berk

2021 is full of uncertainty for those in charge of the safety and wellbeing of employees. Many workplaces like offices or manufacturing and healthcare facilities are still making adjustments following the COVID-19 outbreakAlthough it seems likely that 2021 will be the year the world resumes some sort of normalcy, it’s still unclear exactly when that will occur 

Equally opaque is which workplace safety priorities will be top of mind when this happens. The new normal is still hazy, making it difficult to know what efforts to prioritize and which capabilities will be necessary.   

Regardless of what the future holds, several clear safety resolutions can help you overcome any future challenges. Ensure that you’re prepared for both emergencies and the day-to-day by focusing on these key safety resolutions in 2021 and beyond.   

1. Proactively Address Any Safety Gaps

The coronavirus outbreak has had many companies and healthcare organizations focusing on where to prevent illness exposure. However, there are many other components that need to be addressed outside of these more recent challenges. 

It’s clear why you may need to do things like monitor employee health to ensure that no one enters the workplace while feeling sick or after testing positive for COVID-19. But that communication goes both ways, which means employees need the ability to anonymously share any of their own safety concerns or needs.  

In addition, now is the time to schedule your organization’s required number of safety drills while also establishing a system for tracking this and all other compliance efforts. It's the ideal environment to test out or implement tools like Rave Collaborate that can automate tasks, such as scheduled activities and compliance tracking for daily COVID mitigated activities like following cleaning protocols.  

See How Rave Collaborate Works

Ensure you’re following regulations and meeting all requirements by planning out when and how drills will be conducted, along with a system for reviewing performance and finding areas for improvement. If improving safety compliance is on your list of yearly goals, it can make all the difference if you’re able to assign tasks as part of drill management or track regular completion of protocols. By doing this, your team will be familiar with these systems now and be better prepared for the future.    

2. Integrate and Optimize Your Communication Strategy

Don’t be surprised if a large portion of the workforce remains remote even after coronavirus restrictions are lifted. In a recent survey, 40% of respondents said their companies plan to keep majority of their workforce remote permanently. Regardless if working from home remains a fixture, continued communication and the ability to access information from anywhere is top of mind, with 90% of respondents reporting that their top priorities were digital transformation and cloud-managed services.  

As these digital adjustments continue, organizations must have all the capabilities necessary for both planned and unplanned events. For example, a company can use Rave Alert to send out messages to segmented groups, such as only targeting messaging to those in the workplace after reports of an active assailant. An incident like this would also require other actions, such as swiftly sharing information among key stakeholders, or defining and assigning important tasks such as calling 9-1-1.

A solution like Rave’s Collaborate helps teams manage all this by providing complete tactical incident collaboration. Because it integrates with the Rave Alert notification system, key information can be automatically communicated, and the status of tasks can be continually updated, making it clear what needs to be done and when. With everything under the same umbrella, you’ll have a complete picture of the situation so your team is always ready to leap into action. 

Related Blog: What is Tactical Incident Collaboration?

Additionally, this can be helpful during planned events. Systems like Rave Collaborate can expand safety compliance efforts by assigning tasks as part of managing routine safety drills. It can also assist with tracking daily or regular protocols that need to take place, such as tracking cleaning efforts to prevent illness exposure in the workplace. With the ability to track compliance activities, you’ll be able to proactively ensure that you’re prepared.  

3. Revisit Your Emergency Response Plans

Effective emergency response requires having everything ready even before it’s needed. If an incident like a sudden bomb scare were to occur, would it be immediately clear who was in charge or what was the proper plan for a response? Would everyone know if they had a defined task, and would it be possible to quickly gather key stakeholders and decision makers? 

Most importantly, would the answers for these questions be available rapidly and automatically? If not, your team must establish a way to ensure that all this is addressed now and not during the chaotic time crunch of an actual emergency.  

Establishing a system of collaboration and communication like Rave Collaborate is crucial for efficiency as well as safety. In the words of Inova Health’s director of systems management Jonathan Amburg, “Disaster preparedness starts and ends with communication. Sometimes in healthcare that factor can be overlooked. With Rave, the ability to integrate with other systems has been a blessing for us when it comes to sending strategic key messaging. There’s so much necessary communication that would be incredibly hard to do if we didn’t have Rave.” 

4. AssesYour Tech  

Everyone has already made massive adjustments to account for the coronavirus and the new normal that has materialized. Because it's only natural to have different needs in different times, more evolving may be necessary when restrictions are lifted. This means that now is the time to assess and evaluate the tools and technology you use and determine if they can help meet your needs in the future. Another factor to consider is whether technology can help you automate any processes to save time and effort.  

For example, The pork producer Seaboard Foods discovered the value of automation when confronted with the need to notifying quarantined employees when they were in the clear to return to work. Leveraging the Rave platform gave them the ability to schedule automated messages and segment large groups of employees. 

By selecting solutions that are from the same vendor and easily integrate with each other, you’re better positioned to create a system that can be simplifiedstreamlined and scalableFor example, using Rave means safety drills can be conducted with the same system that would be in place during an emergency. Because safety drills will mirror incident protocol, everyone will be familiar and comfortable with the system, so they’re ready to spring into action in the event of an actual emergency. 

Learn How You Can Start 2021 on the Right Foot 

It’s no secret that you’ll have different needs in different times. The real question to ask is whether you have the tools and communication capabilities to adapt and meet those needs. Rave’s platform is helping teams communicate before, during and after critical incidents and during the day-to-day, while providing the capabilities necessary for incident management and regular operational communication. 
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Duty of Care Leadership in 2021 will be More Important than Ever

December 29, 2020 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employers to reconsider their duty of care responsibilities. Whereas previously, most duty of care provision was centered around the physical wellbeing of employees in the workplace, employers now not only have to safeguard employees' on-premises physical health, but also their off-premises mental health.

Employers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways depending on the nature of their operations and the feasibility of remote working. For example, some manufacturing plants take the temperatures of employees prior to the start of each shift, impose one-way traffic systems to better manage employee flow, and stagger breaks to minimize social contact.

In cases where remote working is not possible – or where a hybrid working schedule exists - many office environments have been de-densified to support social distancing measures. Other recently implemented COVID-19 related provisions include the appearance of hygiene stations and limitations on how many employees can ride an elevator at the same time.

What's interesting to note is that, rather than being mandated by state or federal laws, employers have taken it upon themselves to implement duty of care provisions and mitigate the risk of employees contracting the virus. While there is evidence to support a correlation between duty of care provision and profitability, employers have effectively become duty of care leaders.

Watch: Employee Communication Obstacles in a Post-COVID Workspace

Why Duty of Care Leadership Will be

More Important in 2021

Whatever the nature of a business´s operations, duty of care leadership will be more challenging in 2021 due to COVID-19 fatigue – not so much the lingering fatigue those who have “recovered” from COVID-19 often report, but more the caution fatigue people experience when they become desensitized to infection warnings, or exhausted from following them.

According to Doctor Anthony Fauci, life could return to the “normality close to where we were before” by the end of 2021 if 75% to 80% of the population is vaccinated by the summer. However, with up to a third of essential workers being “vaccination hesitant”, and a potential shortage of vaccines by next summer, the pandemic may still be with us into the second quarter of 2022.

If the pandemic continues throughout 2021, this will likely cause an increase in employees becoming complacent, following duty of care provisions less carefully, and distancing less cautiously. In addition to the risk this presents to increased rates of infection, it could also cause tension between employees, increased workplace bullying, and/or significant mental health issues.

How Duty of Care Leaders Can Meet the Challenges

In October 2020, the World Health Organization published a Pandemic Fatigue guide with the intention of “reinvigorating the public to prevent COVID-19”. Although designed for governments, the advice in the guide is equally as relevant for duty of care leaders in tackling caution fatigue in employees. For example, the organization´s recommended four key strategies are:

  • Collect and use evidence for targeted, tailored, and effective policies, interventions, and communication.
  • Acknowledge that wide-ranging restrictions may not be feasible for everyone in the long run.
  • Find ways to meaningfully engage and involve individuals and communities (i.e., employees and teams of employees) at every level.
  • Acknowledge and address the hardship people experience and the profound impact the pandemic has had on their lives.

It is not difficult for duty of care leaders to adapt these strategies to suit their organizational requirements. For example, businesses can conduct SMS virtual wellness checks to measure the physical and mental health of employees, and tailor effective policies as required. Provided a reason is given for the wellness checks, and responses are dealt with consistently and transparently, employees should have no objection to answering a simple Q&A text every day.

The same channel of communication can be utilized to remotely conduct employee surveys on their perceptions about the effectiveness of corporate restrictions, distribute continuous updates, or educate employees on public health risks as discussed in this blog. Not only does this engage and involve employees, but the responses duty of care leaders receive can help identify employees who are experiencing hardship that may affect their ability to be productive elements of the workforce.

Preparing Employees for the Challenges that Lay Ahead

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, people had more trust in their employer than the government or media, and businesses can use this trust to prepare employees for the challenges that lay ahead. It has already been mentioned businesses can use mass SMS notification tools to conduct employee surveys, distribute continuous updates, and educate employees on public health risks; and these communications should set reasonable expectations about the challenges employees will face.

Employees need to be told the consequences of the pandemic may be in place for a year or more; and that, during this time, there may be increased tension, bullying, and mental health issues in the workplace. To help predict when these challenges may manifest - and address them before they become serious issues - businesses can equip employees with tip texting apps to anonymously and discretely report concerns in and out of the workplace.

It is also the case that public-facing employees may not only face challenges from colleagues but also from customers who are experiencing caution fatigue. To protect employees from situations in which they may face the risk of injury from ordinarily rational customers acting unpredictably, business should equip public-facing employees with mobile panic button apps to report threats to managers; or - if a situation escalates quickly – to call 9-1-1 with two taps of a smartphone screen.

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

How to Manage Shift Vacancies as More Offices Reopen

December 22, 2020 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Although many companies have announced plans to delay the full re-opening of their offices until the summer of 2021, some companies have adopted hybrid opening models in which employees will work from home a few days of the week and work in the office on the other days of the week. This will make managing shift vacancies even more critical as more offices reopen.

While hybrid opening models may be suitable for supporting social distancing measures and may help companies hit the ground faster when they do fully reopen, there can be challenges with managing who is in the office and when – especially when short-notice shift vacancies occur.

Multiple reasons for short-notice shift vacancies are occurring - one employee may forget when they are due to be in the office, another may test positive for coronavirus and be required to self-isolate, and a third may be experiencing return anxiety and unable to make the commute.

It may also be the case that an employee makes the commute to work but is clearly unfit to fulfil their role due to an illness. Depending on the company presenteeism policy, that employee will likely be sent home to recover - creating a shift vacancy in the office that may need to be filled quickly.

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

Using Communication Technology to Mitigate Short Notice Shift Vacancies

Although plenty of online calendars, collaboration tools, and wearable devices with scheduling capabilities exist, nothing is as effective for getting a message to an employee as an SMS text message. SMS text messages can reach any mobile device, you don't need an Internet connection to receive an SMS text message, and most people keep their mobile devices within reach at all times.

Therefore, if it would benefit employees to receive a friendly reminder about what days they are working in the office – or what times they are working, if the company is operating a split shift working day – SMS text messaging is the most effective and convenient way to ensure employees do not forget when they are supposed to be working from the office.

If the company has access to a mass texting platform, a great way to reduce time and costs when sending reminders is to group employees working the same shifts together, and schedule group text messages in advance. Mass texting platforms also monitor message open rates and support two-way communications. So, if an employee has not opened a message, or replies to the message to say they can't come in, shift managers can follow up and adjust shift schedules as necessary.

See how the mass texting platform, Rave Alert, works!

Using a Mass Texting Platform to Fill Short Notice Shift Vacancies

When short notice shift vacancies occurs, shift managers have the opportunity to take advantage of the mass texting platform's polling capabilities to fill the shift(s) quickly. Polling can be used in many different ways to support emergency preparedness, business continuity, and workforces who are unable to access the Internet, and it is an excellent solution for easy shift management.

Once an employee has indicated their non-availability to work from the office, the shift manager sends a polling text to employees scheduled to work from home, enquiring about their availability to work from the office. Because the employee database can be segmented into an unlimited number of groups, the text message is only sent to those with the skills to cover the vacant shift.

The text itself has a Q&A format that employees reply to by pressing a key on their mobile device. Answers are collected by the mass texting platform so shift managers can review open rates, responses, and non-responses. A typical shift vacancy message could be:

Q: Are you available to cover a vacant shift in accounts from 2.00pm this afternoon?

#1: Yes – will be there

#2: No – sorry, I have the kids at home.

#3: No – I am self-isolating until the 14th.

The polling capability of the mass texting platform can be configured so the poll remains open for a fixed period of time, or closes automatically once the required number of affirmative replies have been received. The second option prevents the scenarios in which employees turn up at the office to work the vacant shift - only to find it already filled – or when employees call in during the morning to find out if the office-based shift is still available – wasting the shift manager´s time on the phone.

Find Out More about Managing Shift Vacancies as Offices Reopen

Even if your office has not yet adopted a hybrid operating model, it may still be worth your while contacting us to find out more about the database segmentation and polling capabilities of our mass texting platform – Rave Alert. The coronavirus pandemic is likely to continue beyond the summer of 2021, during which time you can expect the virus to disrupt working schedules.

As mentioned previously, SMS text polling has multiple use cases in addition to being an excellent solution for easy shift management. If you would like to find out more about managing shift vacancies as offices reopen - or how to support emergency preparedness, business continuity, and remote workers with SMS text – do not hesitate to get in touch and request a free demo.
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What are Desktop Notifications for Business?

December 15, 2020 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Push notifications have long been used on company computers to capture the attention of employees for important issues such as software updates or firewall security alerts. But one type has the potential to save lives and mitigate operational disruptions in an emergency: desktop notifications for business integrated within your organization's emergency notification system.

Desktop Alerts for Business

Desktop alerts for businesses are an effective mass notification solution – especially in noisy or distracting environments, environments in which the risk of audible alert fatigue exists, or in environments in which employees are required to mute their mobile devices. In these environments, it is unlikely anybody would miss banks of computer screens lighting up simultaneously and displaying a warning about a fire, active assailant, or severe weather event.

One of the primary benefits of desktop alerts for business is that they can notify employees to the nature and location of an emergency better than many other types of alert. For example, the activation of a fire alarm usually indicates an evacuation due to a fire; however, if somebody activates a fire alarm in response to an active assailant entering the business's premises, an evacuation would increase the risk of injury and potential loss of life.

With regards to reducing property damage and mitigating operational disruption, desktop alert systems for business can be configured so that, in an emergency, only those for whom the emergency is relevant are notified. For example, if a fire were to start in Building A of a three-building campus, the occupants of Building A could be ordered to evacuate, while occupants of Buildings A, B, and C who have been trained to use fire extinguishers could be alerted to the need for their services.

[FREE DOWNLOAD] Rave Notifier for Desktop Notifications

Integrating Desktop Alerts with Other Emergency Notification Solutions

While desktop alerts are an effective mass notification solution by themselves, they can be made more effective by integrating them with other emergency notification solutions. Indeed, desktop alerts for business were identified by the National Fire Protection Association as a key element of a multi-layered notification system when the organization recently revised its Standard 72 (NFPA 72). According to the NFPA, a multi-layered notification system should consist of:

Layer 1

  • Emergency voice/alarm communications systems
  • In-building mass emergency notification system
  • One-way voice communication systems (PA)
  • Two-way voice communication systems
  • Visible notification appliances
  • Textual/digital signage/displays

Layer 2

  • Wide-area outdoor mass emergency notification system
  • High power speaker arrays (HPSA)

Layer 3

  • Short message service (SMS) alerts
  • Email alerts
  • Desktop alerts
  • Smartphone app alerts
  • Reverse 911/automated dialing

Layer 4

  • Radio broadcast (satellite, AM/FM)
  • Television broadcast (satellite, digital)
  • Location specific messages/notifications
  • Weather radios
  • Social networks

While businesses can select one or more element from each layer, it is important each element is designed to be compatible with the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). Then, when one element of the system is activated, other elements relevant to the nature of the emergency are activated simultaneously. For example, if a desktop alert is sent warning occupants of an active assailant, the alert should also activate pre-recorded PA announcements, external beacon systems, and location specific messages to 9-1-1.

See How Rave's Desktop Alerting Works

Other Uses of Desktop Notification Systems for Business

Desktop alerts don't only have to be used to alert employees to danger. Due to the ability to segment the system into groups and subgroups (as explained in the Buildings A, B, and C example above) and customize notifications, desktop notification systems for business can be used for other critical communications such as a power outage or a reported positive COVID-19 test in a particular building.
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Desktop Alerts for Remote Workers

Because desktop notification systems for business can be configured to send notifications to desktop computers and mobile devices based on network addresses and IP ranges, notifications can be sent to remote workers just as easily as to on-premises employees.

Take a typical scenario many remote workers are living today:

They are working at home staring at their computer. Their phone is face down charging next to them or in the other room. Email is running in the background, but they snooze pop ups while they work on something urgent. Their kids, animals, landscapers and deliveries are in their ear all day. With all of these distractions, the only “break glass solution” for 'MUST READ THIS NOTIFICATION' alerts is a pop up on their computer

Rave is Your Break Glass Solution

Find out how desktop notifications for business can be streamlined through the Rave Platform. Our desktop notification feature is part of a powerful multimodal solution called Rave Alert, helping you to:

  • Deliver messages more quickly and more reliably across all mediums
  • Customize the branding of company name, icon and colors
  • Allow your organization to manage one system for both send and delivery of notifications, reducing 3rd party integration needs

Schedule a demo and see how it works today!
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How to Streamline Office Safety Management and Safety Drills in a Post-COVID Era

December 8, 2020 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Streamlining office safety management and safety drills to minimize the risk of personal injury, property damage, and business disruption can be challenging at the best of times. During the current climate of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be even harder to get employees to focus on office safety best practices.

There are multiple sources recommending ways to streamline safety management and safety drills. However, the majority are more relevant to “hard hat” workplace environments (i.e. construction and manufacturing) in which employees have a stake in engaging with safety awareness because of the hazardous jobs they do. In an office environment, it can be more challenging to motivate employees to engage with workplace safety because the same motivation does not exist.

Furthermore, although the COVID-19 pandemic may have made office employees more conscious of personal safety best practices such as hand washing, social distancing, and not sharing workstations, this is unlikely to have translated into greater awareness of office safety best practices. Indeed, the increased focus on personal safety may have negative consequences for office safety management due to the impact of COVID-related stress on employee engagement.

Navigating-Workplace-COVID-Cover[INFOGRAPHIC] The New Workplace Landscape

Taking Advantage of Post-COVID Changes to Health and Safety Policies

The COVID-19 pandemic has had terrible personal and economic consequences, but it has also given health and safety leaders an opportunity to reengage employees prior to returning to the office. Many companies will have changed existing health and safety policies to prepare for a return to the workplace, and health and safety leaders can take advantage of these changes to reinforce best practices and streamline office safety management and safety drills.

Related Blog: The Key Elements to “Back-to-Work” Planning for Your Organization

In many ways reengaging employees with office safety will be similar to the health and safety training each employee receives when they first start working for a company – the primary difference being that health and safety leaders will be more familiar with each employee and have a greater knowledge of their needs, skills, and motivators. There may also be a greater knowledge of how each employee responds to health and safety training and engages with office safety already.

This greater knowledge of existing compliance (or lack of compliance) enables health and safety leaders to tailor reengagement training to individual needs. This doesn't mean large companies will have to prepare thousands of one-to-one training programs, because most employees will fall into groups with similar needs, skills, and motivators. It's then just a question of getting the right training to the right people, and getting feedback from employees to ensure the training has been absorbed.

Using Technology to Reengage Employees with Office Safety

During the pandemic, many companies adopted mass multi-modal communication solutions to keep in touch with remote workers, manage hybrid shift patterns, and conduct wellness checks on self-quarantining employees. Many of these solutions have database segmentation capabilities that enable health and safety leaders to send the right training to the right people, confirm they have received it, and seek feedback to ensure the training has been absorbed.

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Using the polling capability of a mass communication solution not only has benefits in reengaging employees with office safety, it can also help identify where further training is needed. As with the initial SMS text message, responses to the question and answer “polling” texts are recorded on the solution's platform so health and safety leaders can see who is failing to absorb the training and tailor more effective training to reinforce office safety best practices.

The benefit of identifying who is in need of more effective training is that it reduces the burden on health and safety leaders to repeat training to the entire workforce once offices are reopened – in itself not an easy task if companies are working a hybrid shift schedule. This also has the advantage of smaller classes if training is conducted on-site, which means fewer resources are required to achieve more and social distancing measures can be maintained.

The grouping of employees based on their safety awareness can also have an impact on how safety drills are conducted – it being easier to instruct groups of employees with the same level of safety awareness than groups with mixed levels of awareness. While it may be a challenge to get employees with the same level of safety awareness on the same shift to conduct drills, once this challenge is overcome, it should streamline office safety management and safety drills.

The Advantages of Tip Texting to Further Improve Office Safety Management

While health and safety leaders do all they can to minimize the risk of personal injury, property damage, and business disruption, employees also have a responsibility to help keep workplaces safe but reporting risks to the health and safety team. In many cases, reports are made by word of mouth or email, but these options tend lack accountability and – when concerns are not addressed – it can result in employee disengagement.

Having worked so hard to reengage employees with office safety, it makes sense to implement a system of risk reporting in which concerns are recorded and addressed according to their severity. One such system is tip texting, which can be used to report such things as dangerous structures, a failure to maintain social distancing, or – anonymously if needed – workplace bullying and mental health concerns. A benefit of having reports recorded in these cases is that, if the same concern is submitted by multiple sources, the issue can be allocated a higher priority and addressed quickly.

A tip texting service with anonymizer capabilities, plus a mass multi-modal communications solution with database segmentation and polling capabilities can help health and safety leaders streamline office safety management and safety drills in a post-COVID era more effectively to enhance workplace safety. And, if you are a person with a responsibility for health and safety in an office environment, we invite you to get in touch to request a demo of these solutions in action.

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

Why Now is a Good Time to Update Your Manufacturing Business Continuity Plan

December 1, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

As we approach what is likely to be one of the most challenging decades in the modern era for the manufacturing industry, now is a good time to look ahead to what those challenges may be, how your business is going to prepare for them, and update your manufacturing business continuity plan accordingly.

If you thought 2020 was a challenging year for the manufacturing industry, there may be more challenges on the horizon. While there is hope that a vaccine for coronavirus COVID-19 will help the economy return to its pre-pandemic state in the near future, the fallout from the pandemic will likely be with us more many years yet in the form of revised working practices, supply chain issues, and liquidity issues.

Even for manufacturing businesses that have survived the pandemic with limited disruption, changes in the political landscape, the environment, and technology will have a significant influence on what happens over the next ten years. Therefore, now is a good time to look ahead to how these changes may affect your business's operations and its business continuity plan.

Related Blog: New Year, New Business Continuity Plan?

The Environmental Impact on Manufacturing

severeweatherpreparednessWhen the words “environment” and “manufacturing” appear together, they usually refer to the impact manufacturing is having on the environment. However, over the next ten years, the roles could be reversed – not only due to severe weather events increasing in frequency and severity – potentially impacting business continuity in many different ways.

Severe weather events and natural disasters can be disastrous to any kind of business, but in manufacturing - where many employees are needed at the facility and don't have the opportunity to work remotely - they can be detrimental to business operations. Preparing for these events in order to keep workers safe is extremely important, which is why many facilities rely on mass notifications to get the word out to employees quickly and efficiently.  

The Impact of Technology in the 2020s

Considering how fast technology has advanced during the past decade, it is difficult to forecast what impact it will have on manufacturing by the year 2030. One thing that is certain is that businesses in the manufacturing industry will have to adapt technology at scale over the coming ten years in order to fill the skills gap. A 2018 study by Deloitte forecast there would be 2.4 million positions unfilled in the manufacturing industry by 2028.

The Deloitte study is interesting inasmuch as, although concerns exist that the adoption of technology will have a negative impact on jobs in the manufacturing industry, the reverse is true - more jobs are being created. However, the skilled workforce needed to fill these jobs is in short supply – a situation that has been exacerbated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on education. Therefore, it is also important businesses plan for this potential business disruption.

How businesses plan ahead to avoid staffing issues will very much depend on the nature of production and the degree to which production is already automated. However, Deloitte is not the only analyst to suggest replacing retiring workers with like-for-like replacements is unsustainable, and that businesses should take advantage of the current social distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders to understand what the manufacturing workplace of the future will look like.

Solutions to Accelerate Business Continuity into the Next Decade

A business continuity plan is a key element of an emergency preparedness plan, but it is not just for emergencies. However, like an emergency preparedness plan, a manufacturing business continuity plan should be constantly evolving with ongoing impact analyses, gap analyses, development, and testing. So how can businesses in the manufacturing industry predict what challenges they will face and how to prepare for them?

In a previous blog we suggested ways how a mass notification tool can help streamline operations in manufacturing, and many of the suggestions are equally as viable when planning for an uncertain – or unforeseeable – future. For example, one of the suggestions was to use a mass notification tool to communicate new protocols for the flow of materials. The same process could be used to communicate policy changes due to the changing political landscape.

Related Blog: How a Mass Notification Solution Can Help Streamline Operations  in Manufacturing

Similarly, a mass notification tool could be used to communicate changes to factory operating practices attributable to environmental legislation or the adoption of new technology. Certainly, the ability to connect with remote workers and make shift management more efficient can help mitigate business disruption, while the two-way anonymous tip feature mentioned in the blog can help management identify potential threats to business continuity before they materialize.

To find out more about how our solutions can help your business accelerate business continuity into the next decade, do not hesitate to get in touch.

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How Can Property Management Organizations Share Critical Information during the Pandemic?

December 1, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has turned people’s lives upside-down. Businesses are closing, communities are struggling and cases across the United States are continuing to rise. The need to clearly communicate and connect has become paramount as questions and concerns from individuals mount. There are several challenges property management organizations are facing amid this turbulent time as their essential on-site roles have had to adapt through the use of technology.

The Impact of COVID-19 for Property Management 

apartment buildingFinancially, the property management industry has taken a hit. Many tenants are unable to pay their rents unfortunately causing instances of debt collection, eviction moratoriums and the creation of payment plans for those experiencing financial hardship, according to the National Apartment Association.

The pandemic has sent many people home across the board in businesses, schools and higher education, including those working in property management. What used to be an extremely interactive role has now become an entirely virtual experience. Property managers often made rounds to their buildings, checking in with tenants and keeping up a good rapport. Now that property managers are no longer on-site, resident concerns around a perceived lack of oversight have sprung up.

Related Blog: 12 Ways Companies Are Keeping Culture Alive Amid Social Distancing

Customer experience is extremely important in the property management field, which is why many are turning to mass communication and collaboration technologies to ensure their communities are always up-to-date and are receiving consistent messaging throughout the pandemic.

How Trinity Management is Leveraging Technology to Share Critical Information 

Trinity Management LLC manages multiple properties throughout New England including the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard community in Boston, Massachusetts. This community consists of 789 units of affordable housing across five multistory buildings as well as 321 multi-family homes in the heart of Boston.

This community is very large covering many locations and individuals living in these homes and apartments. The Director of Security for Trinity Management, Luis Muñoz, found that he needed an effective way to reach his community.

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“We’re very large, and we’re smack in the middle of the city,” Muñoz said. “We’re right next to hospitals and the busiest areas of the city. If anything happens in the area, there’s a high likelihood that it may affect our residents.”

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One big concern and challenge Trinity Management faced was communicating with residents who speak different languages including Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Reaching these non-English speaking residents became more difficult, which was a huge problem as the messaging sent out to residents was and remains critical for their safety.

“We knew our residents would require important information over a long period of time,” said Muñoz. “But we needed the ability to translate communication to them without it being a complicated process.”

The Solution to Trinity Managements’ Communication Challenges 

As mentioned, Muñoz was looking for a solution that could reach a large community and be able to instantly translate messages. He also needed an effective way to target specific messaging and notifications for the different buildings within his large community.

With a comprehensive mass notification and collaboration solution, residents are easily able to share their preferred language when signing up and providing their contact information. When administrators go to send out an alert, they can indicate which residents should receive an alert in the language they selected.

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Muñoz also found that with this solution he could notify targeted buildings and leverage the mass notifications for non-emergencies and less urgent communications. For example, he could easily send a message to one building to notify residents that they would be losing electricity for a certain period of time. Prior to having a comprehensive mass notification platform, Muñoz and his team would have to share this kind of information manually by sliding printouts under each door which was an extremely timely task.

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Luckily, Trinity Management LLC implemented mass notification in-time for the COVID-19 pandemic. Muñoz utilized mass notification to segment contact lists and schedule alerts to residents building by building, allowing them to sign up for available time-slots to get tested for the coronavirus.

“Communicating this to residents through Rave has made it easier for them to find out what’s going on,” Muñoz said. “We’re using it to communicate everything, from food distribution, to announcements about road closures and construction, to sharing health notifications from the public school system.”

Not only are the notifications helpful, but robust reporting gives Muñoz and his team a good idea of how to improve the delivery and performance of their mass alerts. They’ve also seen a decrease in calls to their security desk with questions due to residents being better informed.

Universal - Trinity Management Case Study

When is Mass Notification Required?

November 30, 2020 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

The Internet is full of information about mass notification systems and the specifications they should comply to, but trying to find guidance on when mass notification is required - i.e. when mass notification systems should be activated - is difficult. So, when is mass notification required?

Mass notification systems date back to the Middle Ages, when church bells summoned people to worship. Church bells were subsequently used to warn local populations of impending attacks until they were replaced by sirens in the early 1900s. During the Second World War and Cold War, the use of mass notification systems increased dramatically, and they now play an important role in warning populations of adverse weather conditions, man-made disasters and other emergency incidents.

Federal Guidance on when Mass Notification is Required

Despite their importance, federal guidance on when mass notification systems should be used is hard to find - the exception being the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities benefiting from federal financial aid programs to provide “timely warnings” of certain crimes. Even then, there is a certain amount of leeway in how and when the warnings are issued, how the person(s) responsible for issuing the warnings interprets the facts, and whether they consider a crime to be ongoing.

Most other federal regulations relate to when systems should be installed (i.e. OSHA 1910.165) or what factors they need to take into account (i.e. Americans with Disabilities Act Title III). Some regulations (i.e. NFPA 72) don´t actually mandate the installation of a mass notification system, but go into immense detail about the specifications such systems should comply with; whereas others (i.e. CMS' Emergency Preparedness Rule) require an Emergency Action Plan is developed without stipulating how it should be executed.

State and Local Ordinances Fail to Provide an Answer

Most state and local ordinances relating to mass notification also focus on mass notification systems and the circumstances in which they should be installed - relying heavily on the International Building Code or NFPA 5000 Code as their guide. Typically, when a Mass Notification System is required, activation of the system is largely reliant on discretion the operator or subject to an interpretation of the conditions or after carrying out a risk assessment (i.e. see proposals to amend California §8594.6 in SB 833).

Naturally there are some circumstances in which the activation of a mass notification system will be automatic - for example if a heat sensor or smoke alarm detects a fire. But in other circumstances there may be an element of doubt (“is that person carrying a firearm”) and in which hesitation could result in unnecessary death or injury. In these circumstances, organizations should implement “Activate First - Review Later” policies to best protect their communities, employees and students.

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The Importance of Having an Integrated Mass Notification System

So far we have established there is little guidance about when mass notification is required and that, to avoid unnecessary delays, it is better for organizations to implement “Activate First - Review Later” policies than to wait and see how a situation develops. There is one other important point to address - the importance of having an integrated mass notification system. This is because according to NFPA 72, a mass notification system should consist of four “layers”:

Layer 1 Immediate and Intrusive Alerting
• One-way voice communication system
• Two-way voice communication system
• Visible notification appliance(s)
• Textual/digital signage and displays

Layer 2 Wide Area
• Wide area outdoor notification system

Layer 3 Distributed Recipient Notification System
• SMS Text / Email
• Computer pop-ups (Check out Desktop Notifications)
• Smartphone apps
• Reverse 911

Layer 4 Public Alerting
• Radio & TV broadcasts
• Social Media

It is not necessary for every mass notification system to have every element within each of the four layers, but what is important is that the elements are integrated with each other so they are all “singing the same song”. In a high-rise fire or active shooter scenario, for example, the activation of different elements of a non-integrated system could result in one element sounding an evacuation order, while another element is telling people to stay put.

When is Mass Notification Required Q&A

How often are mass notification systems activated?

Because mass notification systems can be nationwide or serve a small community, the numbers vary considerably. For example, the nationwide Presidential alert has only been tested once, but the mass notification system used in Pennsylvania has been activated almost 56,000 times since 2012 to alert the public to dangerous weather and missing children; and, more recently, for COVID-19 alerts.

What legislative factors affect mass notifications?

The example provided above (ADA Title III) requires mass notifications systems to be capable of alerting (for example) audibly and visually impaired citizens. Other regulations require systems to be multilingual where appropriate (Civil Liberties Act), while state and local ordinances may impose their own requirements for integration with 9-1-1, PSAP, and EMS services.
What is the best way to alert people to an emergency?

As described in NFPA 72 above, mass notifications can take a variety of formats based on the nature and scale of the emergency. The most effective format is SMS text because nearly all the population has access to a mobile phone. However, in situations in which SMS text would be inappropriate (i.e. in noisy environments), other layers should be utilized to complement mobile alerts.

What happens after a mass notification is sent?

This also depends on the nature and scale of the emergency. In smaller incidents the emergency will likely be resolved quickly with no further notifications, while in ongoing incidents such as the COVID-19 pandemic, mass notifications will continue to be sent regularly to maintain awareness. In wide area incidents, follow-up alerts will be at the discretion of the incident commander.

Where can I find further information about mass notification systems?

If you would like to know more about mass notifications systems or integrating existing systems according to NFPA 72, do not hesitate to get in touch and speak with our team of mobile safety experts about Rave Alert. Our team will be able to answer any questions you have about mass notification and can also organize a free demo of Rave Alert in action.

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Could Mass Communication Technology Help Prevent Employee Turnover?

November 24, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

An organization’s business performance and overall efficiency are reliant on focused, motivated and responsible employees. Unfortunately, employees don’t always feel this way leading to employee turnover, which can be detrimental to a company both through costs and workplace productivity.

Retaining talented employees is a critical issue for many organizations, as employee turnover can be extremely costly and affect the performance of other employees in the workplace. Additionally, as the availability of skilled workers continues to decrease, it has become increasingly difficult to retain the most sought-after employees, according to SHRM.

Employee Turnover Statistics 

The 2019 North America Mercer Turnover Survey found after surveying 200 US organizations that the average turnover rate is 22%, with retail and wholesale industries cumulating the highest turnover rates. Typically, a better job opportunity is the main reason for voluntary turnover with personal and family reasons also making an impact.

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The costs of employee turnover can be massive. According to Leftronic, Gallup estimates the cost of replacing an employee can range from half to two times the salary of that employee. On the other hand, Work Institute estimates that each employee turnover case costs a company $15,000. Either way, turnover rates can be costly. US employers lost $617 billion in 2018 due to voluntary employee turnover.

Why Do Employees Leave?

There are various reasons employees leave their organizations. Some find a new job, move to a new place, go back to school, or retire. Others get upset over work-related or personal issues and quit on impulse and some simply decide they no longer want to work or need a job. All of these reasons contribute to what is referred to as “voluntary turnover”. For those who are fired or laid off by an organization – which has been an unfortunate factor of the COVID-19 pandemic – their turnover is considered an “involuntary turnover”.

SHRM explains that there are four primary paths to turnover, each having a different implication for an organization.

1. Employee Dissatisfaction 

If an employee is unhappy or has a negative attitude at work, it’s likely they are dissatisfied with their position or culture in the workplace. Company and HR leaders should attack this issue by using retention strategies such as monitoring workplace attitudes and address the drivers of turnover.

You can learn a lot in an exit interview, so take the points given by the leaving employee and try to learn from them. It’s also helpful to try to reach your organization by sending out a poll to determine a general idea of how employees feel at work. This can be done with your mass notification solution – by sending out a polling link, employees are able to select an answer from a multiple-choice question, which could then prompt a follow-up question on how your workplace can improve company morale.

Related Blog: From PTO to RTO: How Employee Communication Has Changed in 2020

With an employee safety app, the ability to anonymously submit tips could also be leveraged for those who want to anonymously submit suggestions and concerns about the overall workforce attitude.

2. Better Alternatives 

Many times, an employee leaves their position for a better alternative, whether it be compensation, developmental opportunities, benefit packages or the quality of the work environment. Again, monitoring morale is extremely important as well as staying competitive as an organization by offering rewards and benefits. SHRM suggests companies should be prepared to deal with external offers for valued employees.

3. A Planned Change. 

Oftentimes employees have a predetermined reason to leave their job, such as if their spouse becomes pregnant, they are accepted to a degree program, or they receive a job advancement opportunity. Although this can be a difficult obstacle for workplaces to overcome, increasing rewards tied to tenure or in response to employee needs may make a difference.

SHRM provides this example: if a company is seeing exits due to family-related plans, a more generous parental leave policy or other family-friendly policies may be a way to keep valued workers.

Related Blog: How COVID-19 Has Created a Whole New Ball Game for HR Leaders

4. A Negative Experience

Some employees leave their workplace on impulse without future plans or a new opportunity. This is often due to a negative response to a specific action, such as being passed over for a promotion or feeling a strained relationship with a supervisor.

Companies must analyze these instances and provide training to ensure these encounters don’t happen often. A workplace can also provide support to employees who feel frustrated or unhappy and provide support mechanisms like conflict resolution procedures, alternate work schedules or employee assistance programs.

How Mass Communication Technology Tools Can Help 

It’s impossible to completely stop employee turnover, as an organization cannot reach the needs of every single worker. A mass notification and collaboration platform is a great way to consistently reach the workforce to share updates, benefits and other notable resources to support them. This is increasingly important amid our current climate as we tackle the coronavirus pandemic, severe weather events, nationwide civil unrest and more.

As mentioned above, polling employees to determine an overall workplace attitude can be hugely helpful in finding ways to improve company culture to retain employees. Although many organizations are functioning remotely amid the pandemic, it’s still important to keep company culture alive and well. Take a look at how polling works:

An employee safety app is another communication tool that can be helpful in sharing resources, procedures, full benefits, and more. Employees will easily have access to everything they need to know about their organization. With two-way text capabilities, workers can also anonymously submit tips to HR and company leaders about ways to improve the workplace.

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