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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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 Authorization and its Connection to Public-Safety Grade Solutions

January 14, 2021 Blog Author: Todd Miller

For many public safety agencies, investing in trusted software vendors is an absolute must, especially in the wake of growing cyberattacks and data breaches. For federal government agencies, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) provides a vetted marketplace of vendors offering cloud-based IT products and services, like Rave. This hard-earned distinction serves as a new level of public-safety grade assurance for agencies looking for reliable solutions 

FedRAMP PRIMARY LOGO

What is FedRAMP? 

Founded in federal law, FedRAMP was passed to serve as a “government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.”  

Vendors looking to achieve FedRAMP authorization are put through a rigorous assessment process, usually taking up to 18 months or longer to complete. For agency sponsored authorizations the parties involved are a qualified assessor, a sponsoring government agency and the FedRAMP Program Management Office or PMO; all of which are meticulous and take great effort to ensure the cloud service is secure before it’s allowed to operate.

FedRAMP Agency Authorization 

Security controls based on NIST 800-53 controls are closely scrutinized by the assessor, sponsoring agency and the FedRAMP PMOwith an emphasis on: 

  1. How encryption is implemented to protect customer data in transit and at rest 
  2. How the vendor develops, tests and deploys their service and the associated infrastructure  
  3. What the physical and environmental security systems are in place where any data might be housed 
  4. What the hiring process is for employees handling or with access to the customers data 
  5. What business continuity programs are in place in the event of a disaster or catastrophic event 
  6. How the vendor will monitor, detect and respond to cyber security incidents  

In addition to evaluating security controls, the assessment includes a penetration test or pen test as it’s sometimes called, which identifies any vulnerabilities in the software, systems or network infrastructureEstablished public-safety grade companies already conduct pen tests on their own on a regular basis, but this specific pen test helps to identify issues that must be remediated and then validated by the FedRAMP assessors before an authorization to operate is granted.

Manufacturer Mass Notification   

How Does FedRAMP Differ from Other Security Assessments? 

When evaluating the security effectiveness of software options, some organizations might look at a variety of factors including other security assessmentsISO27001 is an international certification process that also closely scrutinizes an organization’s ability to maintain high-quality information security controls.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack ProceduresWhile FedRAMP and ISO look at various sets of controls, ISO focuses on process and ownership of the controls while FedRAMP is concerned about implementation and effectiveness. 

FedRAMP also determines from the very beginning of the authorization process the level of impact a customer would inherit when signing with a particular vendor for cloud-based services. Vendors are given different security impact levels that emphasize confidentiality, integrity, and availability as major factors. 

Based on these factors, the three levels of impact are: 

Low Impact: Where there would be limited impact to an agency  

Moderate Impact: Where the impact to an agency would be more serious 

High Impact: Where the impact to an agency would be severe 

The Rave solution is assessed at the FedRAMP-moderate impact level that requires more then 320 controls be in place and effective, which makes the importance of security commitment even more critical. 

Why does FedRAMP Authorization matter for critical communication solutions? 

Critical communication solutions like what Rave provides are trusted by thousands of organizations and communities for a wide range of uses. From day-to-day community alerts to urgent messages with next steps following a catastrophic event, these organizations are relying on the software they use to effectively communicate their critical messages as quickly as possible. There’s no room for delays and even less so for data breaches that can expose personal information when an organization is trying to be the source of truth for their constituents. 

Universal - Citizen Engagement Ebook CTA

When a service providers achieves FedRAMP authorization, it isn’t just getting a one-time seal of approval as a trusted vendorFollowing the authorization, the vendor must implement a continuous monitoring process that includes monthly meeting with their FedRAMP customers to discuss the security of the environment and how the vendor is addressing vulnerabilitiesThe ConMon meetings as they are called ensure the upmost level of security hygiene is maintained. 

Rave is a Government Community Cloud deployment which means that state, local, tribal, and territorial government bodies use this service with a goal to partner with a FedRAMP-authorized vendor. However, any non-federal or local government organization can speed up their onboarding process by taking advantage of all the assessments done previously to prove that comprehensive security controls are in place. This is the essence of what public-safety grade infrastructure means.  

FedRAMP and Public-Safety Grade Infrastructure Definition

In a previous blog, we talked about how public safety grade is the expectation that equipment will remain operational during a natural disaster, attack, or any other emergency situation. For Rave, it goes beyond providing a shiny app or interface and means providing “five-nine” or 99.999% availability. Continuing to uphold FedRAMP authorization will only strengthen that commitment. 

Check out how FedRAMP Authorized Rave Alert works

Ready to Partner with a FedRAMP-Authorized Vendor Like Rave? 

Learn more about how Rave provides the leading FedRAMP-authorized mass notification solution sending over 1.2 billion notifications annually and in excess of 4,000 SMS messages per second.  

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.
Universal - Coronavirus Recovery Solution Corporate

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.

Universal - Corporate Manufacturing Solution

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.

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

“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.

Related Blog: Has the Pandemic Changed Office Communications Forever?

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.

Quick Read: How Other Company Communication Tools Compare

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.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

A Day in the Life of a Manufacturing Safety Manager

November 24, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

One of the tools used by careers advice websites to provide young people with advice about different occupations is “Day in the Life of” articles. These articles generally explain what it like to work in a specific occupation, what the responsibilities are, and what the day-to-day routine consists of.

What is noticeable among the many hundreds of occupations, is that careers advice about jobs in the manufacturing industry is thin on the ground. Around twelve million workers are employed in the manufacturing industry – more than three times as many as in education services – yet finding advice about careers in manufacturing is much harder than finding advice about becoming a teacher.

Even when careers advice websites dedicate space to jobs in the manufacturing industry, they tend to focus on “shop-floor” occupations rather than provide advice about opportunities elsewhere in the industry. While it is important to have a hands-on understanding of shop-floor occupations to advance to other positions in the industry, what these other positions are is never mentioned.

Related Blog: How to Reduce Problem Resolution Times in Manufacturing

Advice about Careers in Health and Safety is Even Harder to Find

If finding advice about jobs in manufacturing is difficult, finding advice about careers in health and safety is even harder. Possibly the best guide is on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, where details of how to become an occupational health and safety specialist are found in the healthcare section – not somewhere prospective candidates might always think of looking.

Once the relevant information is located, the likelihood is that anybody looking to become a health and safety specialist in manufacturing will require a bachelor's degree and have to undergo on the job training. In return, they will receive a salary of around $90,000 per year – which is more than most other jobs requiring entrants educated to such a high level.

So Well Paid, But So Many Vacancies

Despite occupational health and safety careers offering relatively high rewards, there are thousands of vacancies for specialists, engineers, and technicians across LinkedIn and Indeed. According to the safety management pages of the Eastern Kentucky University website, the reason for there being so many vacancies is that the number of people entering the profession is not keeping up with the number of people leaving the profession due to retirement or other factors.

Related Blog: Smarter Year-End Budgeting Solutions in Manufacturing

In the manufacturing industry, the shortage of health and safety personnel could reach critical point in the next few years according to Deloitte's 2018 study into the skills gap in manufacturing. Deloitte forecasted 2.4 million vacancies will remain unfilled by 2028 – with businesses finding it three times harder to fill managerial positions. So why is it so hard to find manufacturing safety managers? Let's have a look a day in the life of a manufacturing safety manger to find out more.

A Day in the Life of a Manufacturing Safety Manager

manufacturing safety managerBecause of the different sizes of manufacturing businesses, the different nature of what they produce, and the different stages of automation they have reached, there is no “one-size-fits-all” day in the life of a manufacturing safety manager. Furthermore, while in some manufacturing businesses, a safety manager may have sole responsibility for health and safety throughout the factory or manufacturing plant, in others he or she may be supported by teams of technicians.

Therefore, we have compiled the following schedule of events by integrating our own knowledge of manufacturing safety manager roles and responsibilities with the few schedules that can be found on the Internet – ignoring those in which managers have meeting lasting fifteen minutes or less. When it comes to health and safety in the manufacturing industry, it is not a topic that can be discussed in any great detail within a fifteen-minute window.

Related Blog: Workplace Leadership and Workplace Safety: How they Correlate in  Manufacturing

Before leaving for the factory

Despite being on call throughout the night, one of the first things a manufacturing safety manager will do is check for emails or text messages advising them of an issue.

On arrival at the factory

On arrival at the factory, our manufacturing safety manager (who we shall call David for the sake of brevity) will often conduct a brief tour to sense out any unreported issues.

First formal meeting of the day

The first formal meeting of the day will likely involve other senior personnel and/or members of the safety team to discuss any safety issues that occurred during the previous 24 hours.

Second tour of the premises

After the meeting, David will conduct a more thorough tour of the premises to identify if short-cuts are being taken and ensure machinery guards and sensors are working properly.

Related Blog: The EEOC Updated COVID Guidance: What Your Manufacturing Facility  Should Know

Office Time

Once the second tour is concluded, David returns to his office to catch up on emails, review any new safety guidelines or legislation, and keep up-to-date with the latest safety technology news.

Preparing or conducting training sessions

After lunch, you will find David either preparing or conducting training sessions. The sessions could relate to topics such as the correct procedures for reporting a fault or emergency preparedness.

Second formal meeting of the day

Thereafter, there will likely be a second formal meeting of the day with senior personnel and/or members of the safety team to discuss safety and regulatory compliance issues.

Final tour of the premises

Before leaving the factory, David will conduct a further tour of the premises to identify any issues that have manifested during the day. Typically, this will be a more informal tour.

Some Days, Some Things Don't Go to Plan

While the above schedule may seem quite relaxed for a highly skilled manufacturing safety manager, it is not always plain sailing. Any fault in a machine or any misuse of a machine can result in a devastating injury. Furthermore, areas of safety outside David's control (i.e. severe weather, bomb threats, etc.) can also impact the safety of the employees he is paid to protect.

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

Therefore, a manufacturing safety manager can be a stressful occupation if measures are not put in place to prepare for the times when things do not go to plan. Consequently, if you are in a position of responsibility for safety in a factory or manufacturing plant - or considering entering the industry as a health and safety specialist - always be planning ahead to mitigate potential safety issues.

Universal - Corporate Manufacturing Solution

Digitalizing Operational Coordination in Healthcare: Using Data and Technology during the Pandemic

November 24, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

A couple of months ago, the Harvard Business Review published an article highlighting four steps to digitalize healthcare. The article was sponsored by Siemens to promote its “Insights Series”, its “thought leadership platform”, and its latest whitepaper - “This changes everything: The COVID-19 pandemic leads to a significant acceleration of digitalization in healthcare”.

Siemens' whitepaper is everything you would expect from a publication of this nature – a future vision of a healthcare system that manages data as a strategic asset in order to empower data-driven decisions, connect care teams and patients, and build a learning health system. The whitepaper claims the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digitalization; but warns that, for the acceleration to continue, a change in culture is required.

Related Blog: How Hospitals Adopted Innovative Response Strategies to Combat  the COVID-19 Pandemic

Although the whitepaper includes helpful insights, there are a couple areas where it could be missing the mark. The concept of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make data-driven decisions has been around since the 1970s, while the connection of care teams and patients has been an ongoing process since the HIPAA Act in 1996. Furthermore, while there has been an increase in the use of telemedicine during the pandemic, any previous shift towards digitalization was incentivized by HITECH and the Meaningful Use program rather than attributable to a change in culture.

The Cultural Issues with Accelerating the Digitalization of Healthcare

In 2014, Forbes published an article written by Robert Pearl – a keynote speaker at that year's Stanford Medicine X conference. The article provides five reasons why, despite the incentives of the Meaningful Use program and subsequent Promoting Interoperability program, healthcare organizations are slow to adopt technology in healthcare. The five reasons are:

  • Software developers create a “nifty technology” and then find ways it can be used in healthcare rather than developing solutions that can address an existing problem.
  • Once software is adopted by healthcare organizations, it is difficult to monetize (something which is changing under the Promoting Interoperability program).
  • Physicians are reluctant to share medical information with patients because (according to the physician author) patients could be more worried than they need be.
  • Again, according to the author, physicians are reluctant to adopt technology because the structured format of data entry is slower than maintaining paper records.
  • Finally, many physicians consider technology to be impersonal – for example when a physician has to break the news to a patient that he or she has been diagnosed with cancer.

More recently, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety published an article explaining the industry's reluctance to adopt technology from a legal viewpoint. The author states that the “medical standard of care” (the standard on which medical malpractice lawsuits are determined) is defined as the standard of care that a reasonably skilled and competent medical professional would have provided to a patient at the time and in the circumstances.

Related Blog: What our Updated 2020 Healthcare Survey Report Says About  Emergency Preparedness Post-COVID

The article makes the point that, if a physician was to use a new technology in the treatment of a patient, and the patient's condition subsequently deteriorated, the physician's use of a new technology would deviate from the accepted medical standard of care - thus increasing the chances that the physician would be found guilty of malpractice. The article concludes by asking “how does a standard evolve if it is based on what everyone has done in the past?”

So, What Did Change during the Pandemic?

What actually changed during the pandemic is difficult to quantify. While some healthcare leaders suggest the adoption of telehealth and other (undefined) digital health technologies has created a path towards an integrated healthcare delivery model in which healthcare becomes a “team sport”, some people are forgetting the pandemic is still raging and that front-line healthcare professionals will still be fighting fires for years to come with little time to think about becoming team players.

The pandemic is not the only critical issue the healthcare industry will encounter over the next few years. In addition to the long-term effects of the virus, research conducted in June found that 4-in-10 U.S. adults avoided seeking medical care due to concerns about catching the virus. Research suggests the avoidance of - or non-availability of – face-to-face medical care during the pandemic will exacerbate the severity of untreated noncommunicable diseases for at least five years.

Related Blog: CDC Finds High Percentage of Nursing-Related Occupations among  HCP COVID Hospitalizations

Therefore, the increased adoption of telehealth could be a backwards step in the journey towards the digitalization of healthcare. Whereas it has uses in protecting patients and healthcare professionals from the risk of infection, the consequences of using telehealth as a foundation for an AI-based learning health system - when so many people will be in the advanced stages of treatable diseases – is going to result in future data-driven decisions being made on flawed data.

The Cost of Getting Digitalization Wrong

The cost of rushing the digitalization of healthcare and getting it wrong could be devastating – not only for future visions of healthcare systems, but for the economy as a whole. Even before the COVID pandemic, healthcare expenditure in the U.S. was increasing at 5.4% per year and forecast to reach $6.2 trillion – or 20% of GDP - by 2028. It has since been forecast that, for each one million COVID-19 patients, the U.S. health system incurs $5.3 billion in direct costs.

costOnce the pandemic is contained, it is expected that healthcare payers will try to contain healthcare spending. One of the ways in which this will likely be attempted is to focus on value-based care models in which healthcare organizations are incentivized by low readmission rates. This is not likely to be a successful approach in the short-term due to the critical issues mentioned above and also a substantially increased demand for mental health services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, if healthcare organizations attempt to accelerate the digitalization of healthcare in the midst of these consequences in order to make healthcare systems more efficient and reduce costs, it could backfire and result in a deterioration of healthcare services at a greatly increased costs. It may be better to take the foot off the gas and allow some of the cultural, legal, and accuracy issues to be addressed so that the digitalization of healthcare is built on a more solid foundation.

Measures Healthcare Organizations Can Take Now

While it may not be advisable to rush into future visions of the healthcare system, there are some measures healthcare organizations can take now to digitalize operational coordination. These include implementing collaboration platforms to streamline operations, automate key communications, assign critical tasks, and respond to planned and unplanned disturbances with event-specific resources.

Related Blog: What is Tactical Incident Collaboration?

During the next few years, healthcare organizations are going to have to more with less, making it harder to enforce compliance policies, mitigate operational disruptions, and manage crisis events. Find out how a collaboration platform can help reduce the pressure on managing a post-COVID healthcare environment. Click below. 

Universal - Rave Collaborate Demo

Why HR Leaders Should Evaluate Their Company Communications Software Before the New Year

November 17, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

It’s safe to say that nobody could have predicted the dire impact of the coronavirus pandemic back at the beginning of the new year. 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

As the year comes to an end, businesses are now reevaluating 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’s 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 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’s no question about how difficult this year has been for many, especially with the unfortunate economic decline. Not only are employees worried about their jobs, but they’re also struggling with external factors including the pandemic, nationwide civil unrest, severe weather and natural disaster threats as well as a huge presidential election – 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 to get through the rest of 2020. 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 or not 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.

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Additionally, most business travel has been terminated due to cases on the rise and new hotspots across the United States. It’s recommended that employers consider this and 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’s 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 throughout the rest of the year – and going forward – 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 difficult time. Employee communications are just one way to do so.

Rave Alert Employee Communications

National Long-Term Care Month: Appreciating Leaders in the Industry

November 17, 2020 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

National Long-Term Care Awareness Month, which takes place in November, is an event to recognize and show support for those giving or receiving long-term healthcare. When someone requires long-term care, responsibilities include meal or eating assistance, help with personal care, and hygiene or bathing, as well as help with other daily tasks. This kind of care can be taxing and expensive, requiring families to make difficult economic decisions, determine the role of family members, or manage other logistics for ensuring a loved one remains well.

National Long-Term Care Month is an opportunity to rally around those requiring or giving care, and appreciate leaders in the care industry who are facilitating access to these resources. 

What Is Long-Term Care? 

Long-term care is the variety of services designed to meet a person’s healthcare or individual needs over an extended period of time; these services help individuals live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities of their own, according to the National Institute on Aging. While most long-term care is by unpaid family members or friends, it can also be given at a nursing home or community facility, a paid personal aide, or an adult daycare facility. 

Related Blog: Managing Effective Communication in Long-term Care with Health  Checks and COVID-19 Screenings

The most common form of long-term care helps with everyday living, or “daily tasks”, such as eating, bathing, dressing, hygienic upkeep, using the bathroom, or moving around the home. Often people who need long-term care have a serious ongoing health condition, whether these issues arise as the result of an unexpected event, such as heart attack or stroke, or are the gradual result of aging or worsening illness, as per the NIA. 

Several factors can determine the necessity of long-term care including age, as risk increases as people get older; gender, as women live longer; marital status, as single people are more likely to require paid attendants; or health and family history, as genetic factors can also correlate with risk. 

How To Support Long-Term Care Leaders

There are several important statistics to know about long-term care. First, nearly 70% of men or women over the age of 65 will require some kind of long-term care services, and 78% of adults who receive long term care at home rely on family or friends for assistance, as per National Day Calendar. The average amount of time a caregiver spends assisting a family member per week is around 21 hours, and around 90% of family members giving care had to alter their work schedule to care for a loved one. These people work incredibly hard and are often forced to step away from roles, which can be financially taxing on a family. 

Related Blog: How One Healthcare Team Improved COVID-19 Nursing Home Care

Home-based care is the most common form of long-term care, allowing people to remain at home and be as independent as possible. While the majority of this care - which includes health, personal, and support services - is done by family members, paid caregivers can also be part of long-term support. These paid home-based caregivers include employees found informally, as well as healthcare professionals such as nurses, home health aides, therapists, or homemakers, who can be hired through healthcare agencies. 

In certain states, Medicaid or Medicare will subsidize at-home care, but benefits differ across state lines, including the number of services allotted or hours a personal care assistant will be available. 

#-1There are several ways to support long-term care recipients and providers during National Long-Term Care Awareness Month. The first is to use the social media hashtag, #LongTermCareAwarenessMonth as you spread support and appreciation for long term care workers. Leaders in the industry should continue to spread awareness of the financial, emotional, or physical toll long-term care can put on families across the United States. The month is also an opportunity to propose innovative solutions to streamline worker responsibilities and improve the delivery of care. 

Healthcare agencies can also use this month to reinvest in supporting healthcare field workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Home aides have continued to provide vital care for the elderly by expanding access to resources, such as providing PPE and other protective measures amid COVID-19, and opening lines of communication between agency officials and workers on the job. 

Boosting Communication For Long-Term Care Providers 

A healthcare safety app can be a vital tool for supporting long-term care workers, engaging directly with remote or traveling employees to provide resources, emergency assistance, and two-way communications. The app, which protects traveling workers with safety timers and routine employee wellness checks, is uniquely positioned to support remote workers, such as those providing at-home care in the community. 

Workers can also use the app to enhance response to emergencies - there is a safety timer, which acts as a virtual escort for employees, as well as two-way texting that can be routed by specific departments. With employee-initiated texting, as well as an anonymous two-way tip texting option, care agencies can expect to see an uptick in reports of dangerous incidents, boosting situational awareness.  

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The app can also be used to facilitate shift-filling, which has become even more vital amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many workers have struggled to navigate home-care amid the pandemic, with aides facing arduous conditions and at far-higher risk due to travel between multiple homes, as per the New York Times.

A healthcare app can both help agencies facilitate access to personal protective equipment, especially appropriate masks, which have been in short supply throughout the pandemic. The tool can also ensure that clients receive the healthcare necessary without exacerbating COVID-19 risk - if a worker has any symptoms or isn’t feeling well, the agency can easily fill their shift and mitigate any disruption in-home care.

Universal - Safety Challenges Long-Term Care Video

How to Apply the 5 Pillars of Crisis Management in Your Manufacturing Facility: 2020 Rave Summit Recap

November 17, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Those who attended our first-ever virtual Rave Summit last month may be familiar with the five pillars of crisis management explained by our retired Navy SEAL, best-selling author, emergency management professional and our incredible keynote speaker; Clint Emerson. It’s no question that crisis management is more important now than ever – especially amid the global pandemic – which is why these 5 pillars of crisis management program development should be applied in your manufacturing facility.

Crisis Management is Extremely Important 

Before jumping into the five pillars of crisis management program development, it’s important to discuss crisis management and how to prepare employees for an incident and manage the aftereffects.

Keep it Simple. 

When creating a crisis management policy, it’s crucial to keep it simple. There is a lot that falls under the crisis management umbrella, so to simplify it Emerson explains that in order to be at the highest level of preparedness and prevention it boils down to the following:

  1. Policy should be in place
  2. Policy must be a living document that is continuously updated
  3. Policy includes specific details that fulfill OSHA requirements and other state regulations
  4. Policy needs to be able to hold up in court

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The way the policy it is written and shared across an organization should be easy to understand, as it will be the anchor attached to emergency communication plans, training plans, emergency drills, education, and more. Essentially, keeping the policy simple is key as the crisis itself will complicate the rest.

Plan Accordingly. 

Without having a comprehensive plan in place, a manufacturing business – or any organization - is setting themselves up for failure. Emerson discusses the importance of having a flexible crisis management plan or policy that accounts for different types of crises, such as a global pandemic, natural disaster, or active assailant. Drills and training will help refine the plan and help manufacturing facilities adjust accordingly to protect the organization as a whole. At the end of the day, proper planning prevents poor performance.

Communication is Key. 

Continuous and efficient communication is a key aspect of any crisis management plan. Leveraging technology – like a mass notification solution – can help manufacturing leaders reach their employees and push important messages out to the entire company.

Related Blog: "Communication Problems": What Really Goes Wrong - 2020 Rave  Summit Recap

Often, those working in manufacturing don’t have access to their mobile devices on a plant floor, which is why investing in a solution that can communicate via multiple channels, such as PA systems, intercoms, and digital signage could be the difference between life and death during a critical emergency.

Complacency Kills. 

After your manufacturing crisis management plan has been created, you cannot afford to become complacent. There are always ways to improve upon your plan, whether it’s discovering better ways to streamline it, adjusting or adding additional communication features, or continuously practicing different crisis scenarios to find holes that must be addressed.

The Five Pillars to Crisis Management Program Development 

Emerson explained during his session the five pillars to crisis management program development as follows:

  1. Policy
    The policy is your organization’s foundation that ensures everybody is on the same page when it comes to preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery.

  2. Communication
    A strategic communication plan is one of the most important factors in crisis management. There are a lot of people you need to reach – the workforce, stakeholders, security and emergency responders - and many aspects of a communication plan that should be drilled all of the time to ensure that there will be no communication breakdown during an emergency. The minute a crisis strikes, manufacturing leaders must get the word out immediately, which is why a mass notification system is a great solution.

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  3. Training
    Training is just as important as communication. When a crisis occurs, everybody must know what to do. Training materials and programs should be easy to understand, which should follow adult learning criteria.

  4. Collection
    Collecting data is essential. Whether it’s anonymous portals for workers to report concerns, collected data during a drill, internal surveys, or data collected during an investigation, data is extremely valuable. For this reason, having a robust solution to help is crucial.

  5. Reporting
    Reporting internally and externally is important. Manufacturing facilities must have the means to tell people what’s going on and what needs to be done allowing company leaders to analyze and discover shortfalls that can be fed back into the initial policy.

To watch Clint Emerson’s full keynote presentation at our Rave Summit, click below!  

Rave Summit Keynote Clint Emerson

Oh No! Not Another Emergency Notification System: 2020 Rave Summit Recap

November 11, 2020 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

In October, Rave Mobile Safety hosted the 2020 Rave Virtual Summit, our first-ever virtual event that brought together critical communications and safety experts across industries to share best practices, innovative strategies, and important lessons learned about keeping their organizations and communities safe and informed both during emergencies and day-to-day operations.

Denette Lilly, Communication Center Supervisor for the Wake Forest University Police Department, led a session titled “Oh no! Not Another Emergency Notification System.” Lilly, who has extensive experience in public safety and communication after working as a Communication Training Officer, Chief of Police, and Emergency Dispatcher, explained the criteria necessary for choosing an emergency notification system.

Related Blog: "Communication Problems": What Really Goes Wrong - 2020 Rave  Summit Recap

The session covered what to look for in a mass notification system, use cases or testing strategies for mass notification, and best practices for telecommunicator training. 

Why Wake Forest University Chose Rave Mobile Safety Solutions? 

First, Lilly explained initially why Wake Forest University ultimately decided to go with our mass notification and collaboration solutions:

  • Wake Forest University knew that their previous system was inefficient after it failed during a crisis situation, with the team unable to send out messages to faculty, staff, and students, with alerts taking approximately 40 minutes to reach stakeholders. 
  • The previous system did not have enough ports to get the message out to faculty, students, and staff; the college looked at acquiring more ports for that system, but it would have been a costly update. This led the school to research other systems and ultimately to choose Rave. 
  • Rave Alert was much easier to use than the previous system - with just 1, 2, 3 steps, administrators are able to send the message to all relevant stakeholders.
  • Rave offered a much more affordable system and had the potential to link other emergency systems - such as a physical alarm system - with the emergency alert technology.

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Why Didn’t Other Systems Measure Up for Wake Forest University? 

Lilly then expressed a few reasons why other mass notification solutions simply did not measure up and meet the needs they were looking for. 

  • Other systems were too costly for what was offered and charged extras for add-ons such as social media or voice calls. 
  • The other systems were not as robust or reliable.
  • The messages could not be delivered in multiple modes, such as social media, voice, text, and email.
  • Other systems are too expensive and had slower delivery times for alerts.
  • Many emergency alert systems didn’t have the capability to link up with other systems.  

How To Transition Employees To a New Emergency Alert System  

Lilly noted that many communications officers did not want to change to a new emergency alert system, and she had to get creative to make these workers comfortable. There are several different learning styles and it’s important to figure out how best to teach staffers protocol. 

Lilly offered several innovative ideas to help employees learn how to use the new system, including: 

  • Emails to all Communications Officers with scenarios to use within the mass notification system. 
  • Pick a Card Scenarios - workers receive scenarios, either on a computer or written out manually - whether it’s a robbery or weather-related emergencies - and that’s their hypothetical scenario to learn how to respond to using the system.
  • Teach workers how to avoid abbreviations, misspelled words, or improper grammar by sending them alerts with a correction needed and having them identify the mistake. If a worker does send out a message with an error, it’s not necessarily a big deal but it is best to inform them of the mistake. 

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Best Practices For Daily Tests

  • Create a preset template for the daily test.
  • It should be mandatory for all telecommunicators to conduct a daily test; check daily log to ensure everyone is following such protocol. 
  • Check weekly to ensure that all telecommunicators are doing their daily test. 
  • All test messages must start with the phrase: "TEST MESSAGE ONLY".

Train, Train, Train 

It’s imperative to continue to train your staff on a mass notification solution. Below are several best practices for training staff: 

  • Keep everyone informed of new updates or features to the emergency communication system. 
  • Let everyone know why certain steps or protocols are followed.
  • Explain what templates are and why templates are important to use.
  • Ensure all users feel comfortable with the technology. 
  • Provide frequent refreshers on sending notifications out.
  • Create your own step-by-step instructions that combine the mass notification instructions with your own institutions individual needs.

To watch the full session, click below! 

Universal - 2020 Rave Summit Session Oh No

How Do You Implement Social Distancing Policies in Factory and Plant Settings?

November 10, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Since the early spring, businesses in many industries have been able to switch operations from office-based to home-based. However, in the manufacturing industry, remote working is not an option for employees involved in production. So how do you implement social distancing policies in factory and plant settings in order to keep employees safe?

The first thing to determine is what your social distancing policies should consist of. While the CDC and many state governments recommend a minimum distance between employees of at least six feet, this is not always physically possible in production environments. Furthermore, the six feet “rule” is based on nineteenth century science; since when it has been found aerosols of the virus can travel more than twenty-five feet – or even further when people are shouting, singing, or exercising.

It is also the case social distancing alone is not an effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In a scientific experiment conducted in Spain, researchers found that one carrier in a room of six socially-distanced people can infect the other five occupants within four hours due to airborne transmission. Even when all six occupants were wearing masks, researchers calculated that four of the occupants would be infected after four hours because of the prolonged exposure.

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The infection rate only dropped to below one person when all six occupants were socially-distanced, all six occupants were wearing masks, the room was adequately ventilated, and the length of exposure was reduced by half to two hours. The scientific experiment was repeated in a school classroom scenario and a bar scenario with similar results – indicating the difficulty businesses have implementing effective social distance policies in factory and plant settings.

The CDC's Guidance for Social Distancing in the Manufacturing Industry

Because it is not possible to develop “one-size-fits-all” guidance for social distancing in the manufacturing industry, the advice provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is limited. The CDC suggests businesses should conduct risk assessments in order to assess job hazards for the feasibility of engineering controls, ensure ventilation and water systems are operating properly, and alter workspaces to maintain social distancing.

Beyond that guidance, the CDC does not have in-depth recommendations for manufacturing facilities. However, by researching alternate sources, it is possible to find many best practices for maintaining social distancing in factory and plant settings. More practical solutions include:

  • Staggering shifts to avoid bottlenecks when employees arrive and leave.
  • Increasing the number of entrances and exits to further reduce congestion.
  • Introducing one-way systems to control traffic flows around the factory or manufacturing plant.
  • Erecting physical segregation barriers between employees on production lines and break areas.
  • Reconfiguring production lines so employees are working side-by-side rather than face-to-face.
  • Alternating breaks to reduce the number of employees working on production lines at any one time.

Related Blog: How to Reduce Problem Resolution Times in Manufacturing

It is generally recommended these measures are introduced along with daily health checks, with a requirement for employees to wear face coverings, and – where possible – with individual equipment for each employee so that tools, stationary, and personal protective do not have to be shared. There should also be sanitization stations located around the factory or manufacturing plant, and common areas should be cleaned frequently to reduce the spread of the disease.

Education and Communication: Common Themes Throughout

Two common themes running throughout practically every source of information about social distancing in the workplace is the importance of educating employees why social distancing is necessary and frequently reminding them to follow social distancing policies. There are many online resources explaining the importance of social distancing, but probably the following video released by the Ohio Department of Health has been the most effective at communicating the message.

 

With regards to reminding employees to follow social distancing policies, most sources suggest floor markings and wall posters. However, like health and safety signage, employees can become oblivious to their presence over time. A better solution is to communicate frequent reminders via PA systems or digital signage; or better still via SMS text, as repetitive text messages do not have the same “white noise” effect as PA systems and digital signage and are more likely to be read.

The Best Workplace Communication Platform for Social Distancing Reminders

Although a mass communication solution is most commonly used to alert employees to the risk of danger, easy-to-use SMS templates and scheduling capabilities make workplace communication platforms extremely useful for social distancing reminders. System administrators only have to write one social distancing template, and then schedule the time(s) for reminder(s) to be sent. SMS text messages are then delivered simultaneously at the schedule time(s) to every employee.

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Where split or staggered shifts are in operation, it is possible to schedule the reminders for different times for different groups of employees. It is also possible for employees to select the language in which they would like to receive the reminders, and for system administrators to monitor open rates through the platform's GUI. If appropriate, a mass notification solution can also be integrated with PA and digital signage systems to strengthen the impact of each social distancing reminder.

Universal - Corporate Manufacturing Solution

What is “COVID-19 Customer Conflict Prevention” Training for Workers?

November 10, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

There has been a fair amount of press recently about COVID-19 customer conflict prevention training following the launch of an online course by the National Retail Federation. However, while the course can be of benefit in certain circumstances, it is not a total solution to the issue of customer conflicts in retail environments.

Last month, the charitable arm of the National Retail Federation (NRF) launched a widely-reported COVID-19 customer conflict prevention training program in conjunction with the Crisis Prevention Institute – an international training organization that specializes in the safe management of disruptive and assaultive behavior”.

The training program was launched in response to an increase in enquiries about de-escalation techniques following a series of assaults on retail employees trying to enforce social distancing and mask wearing rules. According to the NRF's executive director Bill Thorne, the course provides an opportunity for retailers to communicate a safe shopping message to customers.

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The objective of the online course according to Susan Driscoll – the president of the Crisis Prevention Institute - is to “teach employees how to recognize what stage of a crisis a consumer may be in and what they can do to diffuse the situation”. The course does this by offering employees tips on how to communicate empathy and support verbally and nonverbally.

Does an Online Training Course Prepare Employees for Real World Scenarios?

While it is important retail stores do everything they can to enhance the safety of employees, and commendable that the National Retail Federation should try to reduce assaults on retail staff, the issues exist of how well an online training course can prepare employees for real world scenarios, and whether employees should be responsible for enforcing coronavirus restrictions anyway.

Unfortunately, the below startling events and reactions to enforcing COVID regulations have ended in tragedy:

With regards to who should be responsible for enforcing coronavirus restrictions, the comments section alongside the NY Times story covering the launch of the training program makes interesting reading. Many commentators believe asking retail staff to be responsible for enforcing COVID rules is a mistake and that stores should simply refuse admission to anybody not wearing a mask.

Retail Stores are between a Rock and a Hard Place

Inasmuch as retail stores would like to pick and choose who they allow through their doors, the retail industry cannot afford to turn away paying customers. Over the past ten years, the industry has been going through aretail apocalypsedue to competition from eCommerce, rising rents, and changes in spending habits; and, for some retailers, COVID-19 could be the last nail in the coffin.

Consequently, while some stores have rules requiring customers to wear masks and maintain social distancing, they do not always enforce the rules nor ask employees to. One contributor to a marketplace.org webinar likened the situation to dealing with shoplifters in which employees are told “Don't chase the thief. It's not safe for you, and it's not safe to the people around you”.

NY Times Conflict Resolution Comment

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A second contributor added: “It’s simply too much to ask a front-line retail worker who is already concerned for her health during this crisis and still showing up for work, to also intervene in something that could escalate quite rapidly.” Consequently, while COVID-19 customer conflict prevention training can be of benefit in certain circumstances, it appears many retailers won't be taking advantage of it, and will be better protecting staff by implementing other measures.

Finding a Balance between Retail Profitability and Staff Safety

During these difficult times for the retail industry, it is important businesses are able to welcome as many customers as possible and provide them with a safe and positive shopping experience while maintaining the safety of employees. To find a balance between retail profitability and staff safety, businesses should look at three areas – physical controls, communication, and threat reporting.

Physical Controls

There are many types of physical controls businesses can implement to separate customers and maintain a distance between them. Ideally, each business should conduct a risk assessment to identify where bottlenecks may occur (i.e. entrances, tills, lifts, etc.) and reconfigure premises, widen aisles, and introduce one-way systems to prevent bottlenecks developing.

The physical controls should be supported by clear signage, floor markings, and capacity limitations. It is also important staff are protected from the risk of infection by Perspex screens in locations where they will be in frequent close contact with customers, and provided with branded personal protective equipment to communicate a safe shopping message to customers.

Communication

Communicating to the public how the business is providing a safe shopping experience is equally as important as the measures it implements. Events such as the disgraceful scenes at the Massachusetts ice cream parlor could have been avoided if better communication had been provided in advance so customers had reasonable expectations before they arrived.

Related Blog: The New Reality of Employee Critical Communication

On arrival, customers should be greeted with further reminders of the measures implemented to protect them and store staff. The communications don't have to be authoritative or doom-laden. There are plenty of examples of amusing yet effective signage on the Internet that can help customers better accept restrictions in good humor.

Threat Reporting

Not so amusing is the fact that America is in the midst of a mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional anxieties attributable to the pandemic can result in personality changes and mood swings and make ordinarily-rational people act aggressively and unpredictably – making it less likely that empathy and support will be effective de-escalation techniques.

To better protect employees in retail environments, it is far more practical to equip staff with mobile panic buttons apps that can be used to report threats to managers and security; or - if a situation escalates quickly – to call 9-1-1 with two taps of a mobile phone screen. The apps can be configured to simultaneously alert coworkers to threats so that they can either help support the threatened employee or move other customers to a safe area.

COVID-19 Customer Conflict Prevention Training Has Uses, but It's Not a Total Solution

As mentioned previously, COVID-19 customer conflict prevention training for workers can be of benefit in certain retail environment scenarios, and it can help individuals become more understanding and supportive of each other. However, by itself, it is not a total solution to the threat of irrational and unresponsive customers. Alternative measures can better protect employees in retail environments, and technology tools can be extremely helpful.  

Universal - Corporate Workplace Challenges Post-COVID Guide

Traveling Healthcare Professionals Help Rural Hospitals Amid COVID-19

November 10, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

It’s no secret that since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic healthcare systems across the United States have struggled to treat patients amid a PPE shortage, spikes in cases, and the high costs associated with the virus. Hospitals and health systems have been hemorrhaging money, according to HIT Consultant, with the American Hospital Association estimating total losses to exceed $300 billion by the end of this year.

COVID-19 and the Impact on Rural Health Care 

When COVID-19 first hit the United States, many hospitals sidelined their profitable elective procedures to focus on keeping patients and staff safe from the virus, which was a costly – but worthwhile – investment. Unfortunately, rural hospitals often have less access to the supply chain to purchase crucial equipment and the high costs of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid a shortage caused a serious financial burden on these health care systems.

Even before the pandemic, three of every four critical access hospitals had negative operating incomes, and without elective procedures, face-to-face appointments and privately insured patients, hospitals in both urban and rural areas have felt the impact as they continued – and still continue – to lose money.

How do Rural Hospital Closures Impact a Community?

Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s rural areas has been detrimental. Rural health care systems have continued to face fundamental financial challenges with the global pandemic exacerbating this problem. Since 2005 more than 170 rural hospitals have closed, with 18 of those shut down in 2019 and 14 closed by mid-August 2020.

One consulting firm reported that one in five rural hospitals is on the verge of closing based on total operating margins, cash on hand days, and debt-to-capitalization ratios. These at-risk hospitals account for 21,500 staffed beds and 707,000 annual discharges.

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A study published by the National Bureau of Economic found that rural hospital closures increased mortality by almost 6% overall, with urban hospital closures having no real impact on mortality. This study also revealed significant differences between patient outcomes following an urban and rural hospital closure. With rural hospital closures, community members must travel further for care, which in some instances could be the difference between life and death, especially amid a national emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rural Hospitals have Relied on Traveling Nurses Amid COVID Spikes and Staffing Shortages

Recent data is showing that although rural areas were mostly spared during the first peak of the virus, they are now seeing some of the highest infection rates in the United States. According to Popular Science, right now, one in every four deaths from COVID-19 is in a rural area and there has been a drastic increase in rural infection rates.

NPR explains that in the Midwest cases have climbed on average nearly 60% in the last couple of weeks compared to the 35% national average. Across the country, most non-metropolitan counties have reported at least 100 cases or more per 10,000 people since the pandemic began, which is almost double what it was in early September.

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With an already limited medical infrastructure, rural health care facilities have largely relied on traveling nurses and healthcare professionals to fill extreme staffing shortages. These staffing shortages existed before the pandemic, but with COVID-19 cases on the rise throughout rural areas, the shortages have worsened.

A mass notification solution with polling capabilities is a great solution for healthcare facilities looking to fill shifts. By sending out a polling link, administrators can collect responses on whether workers are available to fill a shift, and once the shift is filled, the poll automatically ends. Watch the short video below to see this in action:

 

Technology to Empower and Protect Traveling Health Care Workers 

Agencies who provide traveling healthcare employees have a responsibility to protect these workers, as reports of understaffed facilities and lack of protective equipment have come to light proving a need to support these health care professionals. The unpredictable situations travel nurses and health care professionals have faced throughout the coronavirus pandemic has uncovered a new focus – not just on their patients – but for their own personal safety.

An employee safety application is a great solution to protect healthcare workers, especially during the global pandemic. Within this application, employees have access to crucial information such as a call directory and a content directory with helpful resources – such as travel considerations, holiday schedules, hospital procedures and policies.

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An employee safety app also has confidential two-way text messaging, in which they could report unfortunate conditions or people’s failure to comply with social distancing regulations, as well as an emergency call button that would automatically connect them with safety and security personnel during an emergency.

Healthcare organizations can leverage technology to fill staffing shortages as well as protect their employees amid the coronavirus pandemic. Click below to see how technology empowers and protects traveling health care workers.

Traveling Healthcare Workers

What is Tactical Incident Collaboration?

November 6, 2020 Blog Author: Matt Serra, ENP

Tactical Incident Collaboration may be a new term to some. For those called upon to prevent or respond to events impacting the operation or safety of their community, its characteristics are very familiar. You or your team frequently operate in this mode when engaged in response to your most common planned or unplanned events. As these are your most frequent and mission-critical activities, having tools and policies that address this mode of response is critical to the organizational risk and speed recovery. Tactical Incident Collaboration is most easily defined by exploring the full spectrum of events you are called upon to address.

Tactical Incident Collaboration and the Emergency Response Timeline 

Within a year, an organization may respond to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of events. Fortunately, the vast majority of these events are of relatively low or mid complexity, typically lasting between a few minutes to a few hours. On very rare occasions, no more than a handful of times a year, your organization may face an extremely complex event that could last the better part of a day to several weeks.

What is Tactical Incident Collaboration

Examples of higher frequency events include responses to requests or inquiries; routine dispatches of law enforcement, fire, or medical; fulfilling obligations of planned events such as inspections, security checks, or drills. On the far right of the time scale, we find your most complex events – such as extended VIP visits, responses to declared-disasters, or the current global pandemic.

Organizations will also experience unplanned events, such as activating a tornado or thunderstorm protocol, launching an investigation for a theft or assault, or even managing an active assailant incident. Events such as these that don’t occur frequently will likely linger for a longer period of time and will require a more complicated and multidisciplinary team response. 

Related Blog: Check-Ins, Reunification and Incident Timelines

Three Phases of Post-Incident Emergency Response

As we consider this spectrum of events, the response you bring to bear will pass through one to three different phases. These phases change as the complexity and duration of the event changes. The first two phases are crucial for Tactical Incident Collaboration, which is why those responding to an event must be clear on policies and expectations, have the means to keep each other on track and account for each person’s actions. All these things must be delivered in a way that minimizes training and ensures that tools – such as a Tactical Incident Collaboration solution – can be leveraged by anyone who may need to.

Phase 1: Whoever is Here

Initially, emergency response is conducted by “whoever is here”. Whether this is a planned or unplanned event, an organization can only leverage the resources on hand at the onset of the incident. Most communities and organizations are not able to continuously staff for all eventualities. Managing risk in a 24 x 7 x 365 world means you need to have the confidence those on-site are armed with the tools and policies to put the right corrective actions into place, at least until more specialized resources can be brought to bear.

Phase 2: Experts on the Scene

first respondersFor events that continue beyond the first phase, the organization will benefit from the time required to assemble and apply deeper expertise to the event. This phase introduces challenges of its own: how do you transition the current state of affairs to those arriving on-scene, ensuring critical tasks are not duplicated or overlooked? As attention is consumed by mounting a response and assembling resources, can you remember to keep key stakeholders informed, take ownership of the story, and provide those adjacent to the event with clear instruction? Leaving open gaps can widen the event’s impact.

Phase 3: Emergency Operations Center

For events that cross into the better part of a day, or more, you will most likely assemble a cross-functional team and the required structured incident command to complete response and manage the protracted road to recovery.

Related Blog: How to Make Sure 9-1-1 Emergency Response Calls Aren't Misdirected

Not every event will reach Phase 3, and from the research we’ve done here at Rave, we found that the tools and processes that work well in an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) setting do not translate well to the first two phases. Yet, every event that reaches the point of EOC activation must go through initial Tactical Incident Collaboration steps first. For this reason, Tactical Incident Collaboration is essential for any kind of organization navigating any kind of event – emergency or non-emergency.

How Do Successful Organizations Facilitate Tactical Incident Collaboration?

Despite the wide variety of technology solutions out there, orchestrating the response to any event can be a largely manual process, which – due to human error - makes it easy to occasionally let tasks fall through the cracks. Most of the time this can simply cause additional work and is not the end of the world, but other times these lapses have more serious consequences, such as lost revenue, damage to an organizations reputation, a fine, or even – in the worst cases – a loss of life.

To avoid this, Tactical Incident Collaboration provides an event-relevant playbook to drive both compliance and best practice. Organizations can leverage this technology to automate the most critical tasks, such as notifying stakeholders immediately at the start of an event. Users can also utilize Tactical Incident Collaboration to schedule proactive actions and interact with these tasks while responding to the unplanned. This solution can work to prevent human-error and streamline response efficiently.

The First Few Minutes are Critical

The first few minutes of any event are crucial for any organization, with the early actions taken having an outsized impact on the final outcome. Immediately after an incident occurs, the only resources you have is whoever is already there. Where a more specialized response is required, those onsite may need to “buy themselves 20 minutes” or more before those best suited can be brought into the response. 

Download Brochure: Rave Collaborate

Yet providing those on hand with the key steps to be taken for a given eventuality will ensure response moves in the right direction, and critical information is collected, immediately mitigating the effects of the incident and increasing the effectiveness of response as experts arrive on scene. Tactical Incident Collaboration automates the necessary tasks required in response and provides employees proactive actions that must be taken during the onset of an event. Immediately notifying the right people, engaging the right resources, and taking the right actions can save lives.

It’s Essential to Stay on Track

When mounting a response, it can be easy to get tunnel-vision. While responding to those who are directly impacted by an event is critical, it’s important to keep other parties in mind, such as keeping organization leaders up-to-date, ensuring the community has the correct information before rumors develop, and making sure community members are able to take actions that are necessary for their own safety.

With a Tactical Incident Collaboration solution, organizations can easily monitor timers as well as escalate delayed actions and tasks to keep response moving forward and communications flowing.

Accounting for your Actions 

As incidents play out, organizations do not want to fumble for answers. They must be able to account for their response timeline and include significant information including when the event occurred, which actions were taken, who was involved, and where the event stands currently. With Tactical Incident Collaboration, every action is noted and stored with robust reporting and crucial data throughout an event.

Response is just one aspect, as it’s important that organizations can account for all kinds of activities. Are you complying with the regulatory requirements of an insurer? Are you staying on top of emergency drills, inspections, or COVID cleaning protocols? Being able to track and provide proof of proactive measures can be just as critical as accounting for what your organization did in response to an unplanned emergency. 

 

Tactical Incident Collaboration takes a look at the full picture of any workplace incident, whether in emergency preparedness or emergency response. Nobody can predict an emergency event or who will be present at the time, which is why having a solution to bring order and clear instruction to an often-hectic situation, as well as collect important information throughout, is an essential tool for any organization. A Tactical Incident Collaboration platform keeps all employees situationally aware of what is happening as they respond to a planned or unplanned event.

Universal - Rave Collaborate Demo

"Communication Problems": What Really Goes Wrong - 2020 Rave Summit Recap

November 4, 2020 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

The 2020 Rave Summit brought together critical communications and safety experts across industries to share best practices, innovative strategies, and important lessons about keeping their organizations and communities safe and informed both during emergencies and day-to-day operations - all in a virtual setting. 

On October 20, 2020, Tim Pridemore, Emergency Management Coordinator for The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, led an informative virtual session where he discussed how organizations can approach communications problems. 

First, Pridemore clarified that the session is not about eliminating communications issues - instead, it’s about reducing the potential for communications problems, by reducing as many causative factors as possible. 

"Communication Problems" Session Goals 

In the beginning of the session, Pridemore outlined the session goals to be as followed:

  • Administrators and attendees will better understand “communications problems,” learning how to better engineer or train problems out of the system, by the end of the session
  • While organizations may never be able to eliminate all communications problem, it is possible to reduce them through better engineering, as well as better training and education 

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Communications Defined:

Pridemore explains that there is a difference between the dictionary definition of communications, which is the effective transmission of information, and the operational definition, which is causing people to respond appropriately. 

Information Types 

He continues by breaking down the following information types:

  1. Strategic or Doctoral Information:
    Information needed to drive decision making 
  2. Operational Information:
    Information needed to direct operations 
  3. Public Information: 
    Information needed to assist or protect the public 

Failure Modes Common to Communications 

Failure modes are the different factors that can break down amid communications and this can, unfortunately, prevent people from receiving an alert. A failure mode is a root cause, the smallest gear that can break or malfunction to cause a system-wide failure. 

There are at least 19 failure modes which cause “communications problems”, but most communications problems are actually “expectation problems,” where people expect you to be able to use a function that the existing communication system simply cannot do. 

Related Blog: What are Common Communication Systems in Healthcare?

While organizations can never completely eliminate all communication problems, there are ways to reduce them through better engineering as well as better training and education. If all communication problems are based on the statement, “I didn’t know,” a communications experts’ role is to fill in the blank, and answer, “You didn’t know because.” 

What Causes “I Didn’t Know” Scenarios? 

There are several causes to the “I didn’t know” scenarios, which were broken down by Pridemore to be the following:

1. Equipment Failure 

Equipment failures can be detrimental during a crisis. Some equipment failures include the following:

  • 9-1-1 phone outage 
  • Radio infrastructure outage 
  • Radio infrastructure limitations 
  • Internet connectivity issues 

2. Information Not Available/Could Not Be Obtained 

If critical information is not tracked, it cannot be obtained. With this, first responders are unable to act on information that essentially does not exist, due to a failure to communicate a message in its entirety.

Pridemore used the example of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor, where workers needed to close an important valve. While the enunciator notified workers that a signal had been sent, the operator was not informed if the valve had been closed, which was a crucial piece of information that was needed. 

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

3. Receiver’s Expectations Are Unrealistic 

Another cause of an “I didn’t know” scenario is that the receiver’s expectations are unrealistic. This could be a worker having unrealistic expectations regarding the time frame or level of detail about the situation. With this being said, after-action report items typically show where these unrealistic expectations come to light. The report items will show a full picture of the issue. 

For example, a policy group may have an unrealistic expectation of the amount of time it would take to generate a common operating picture. In this scenario, it’s recommended that the policy groups receive improved training to understand the typical timeline they should expect. Administrators can establish realistic expectations about time frames and levels of detail through effective employee training. 

4. Conflicting Information 

Conflicting information could be any of the following:

  • Which information is correct? 
  • Whom do you trust? 
  • How do you validate? 
  • How long does it take? 

There must be a process in place for validating information, sorting through conflicting information, and getting all relevant stakeholders on the same page. 

5. Message Issues 

There could be several message issues, including:

  • Language Barriers 
  • “Tanker vs. Tender” 
  • 10 Codes  

It’s impossible to get rid of these miscommunication errors completely, but with proper training, many of these concerns can be managed or mitigated. 

6. History of Being Wrong 

How often can you put out misinformation, and have the public still trust your communications? If you push out the wrong information, the public will eventually stop trusting agencies. Even if people distrust the news, they must trust the information delivered from emergency management agencies. There is little room for error when it comes to community trust. 

Related Blog: Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 Misinformation

7. Poor Advance Planning 

Not planning ahead can be a serious concern and cause of an “I didn’t know” scenario. For example, an administrator could not have a clear system in place for reporting a crisis, they’re unclear on what information they must gather or share, or their role was not well defined causing important tasks to fall through the cracks. 

8. Receiver Ignored Message

When administrators send a message, and the receiver doesn’t take appropriate action, it’s important to ask why they ignored the information and to ensure it was received. 

9. Didn’t Identify All Recipients 

During an event, identifying everybody who should receive an alert is crucial. For example, residents living in the path of California wildfires reported they weren’t notified of the fire’s approach, while others refused to go. 

This is why leveraging and using a multi-path system is very important; with a mass notification solution, anyone who signs up for alerts can receive a test message, which ensures they are enrolled for alerts.

10. Message Out of Sequence 

Sometimes it is important not only to communicate the correct information but also to communicate it in the right order, to avoid confusion. This error happens most often with two-part text messages, especially via SMS.  

Related Blog: Why Communication is Key When It Comes to School Emergency  Response

Communication Problems: Session Recap 

  • Many “communication problems” are really “expectation problems.” 
  • Organizations often think of “communications problems” as being both undefinable and unavoidable 
  • Organizations don’t always understand all the ways our communication system can fail so it is difficult to train to overcome those failures. 
  • Rather than saying, “it was a communications problem,” and leaving it at that, we must understand the why and how of the failure. 
  • Organizations should design programs to help the public overcome “communications problems” the same way we work to prevent other types of breakdowns. 

To watch the full session from expert Tim Pridemore, click below. 

Universal - 2020 Rave Summit Session Communication Problems

What Your Organization Should Know About California Assembly Bill 685

November 3, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Organizations across the country are continuing to grapple with the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. A new California law, California Assembly Bill 685, provides additional guidelines for California businesses on how employers should handle COVID-19 related communications to employees.

This isn’t the first state to enforce certain standards surrounding the COVID-19. Virginia was the first-in-the-nation to put mandatory workplace safety rules in place back in July 2020, which includes specific requirements about immediately contacting employees who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. California’s new bill is a bit different but sets a standard for businesses within the state on the best way to handle employees who have tested positive for the virus.

Related Blog: State of Virginia Adopts Workplace Safety Standards for COVID-19  Pandemic

A Breakdown of California Assembly Bill 685 

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 685 into law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2021, and will remain in place through January 1, 2023.

Who Are Qualifying Individuals? 

J.D. Supra explains that under AB 685, qualifying individuals include:

  • Those who have a confirmed laboratory case of COVID-19;
  • Those who have a COVID-19 diagnosis from a licensed health care professional;
  • Those who are in a COVID-19 related isolation order from a public health official;
  •  A death due to COVID-19 confirmed by a county public health official.

Communication Requirements: Employees 

Under AB 685, employers must provide a written notice of potential exposure to the coronavirus by a qualifying individual within one day of knowledge.

  • Notify employees and other subcontractor employers with employee present at the worksite on the date of exposure;
  • Communicate efficiently with employee representatives, such as unions and attorneys;
  • Clearly provide employees information about benefits related to COVID-19 and the protections for employees against discrimination and retaliation for reporting coronavirus cases;
  • Notice to employees regarding disinfection protocols and safety plans to prevent further exposure.

Messaging sent out must be any written notice, such as an email, text message, or personal service, but must be presented in a timely manner so that employees receive word within one business day. With a mass notification solution, employers can send out a written notice to employees over various communication methods, including email and text message. Employers must also keep a record of these written notices for at least 4 years.

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

Leveraging a mass notification system for employee communications regarding the coronavirus is a great solution for California businesses and organizations. Users can set up specific contact groups, such as certain shift groups, union employees, or separate contact lists per each building, which will make it easier if the workplace has a COVID-19 exposure. Business leaders can also construct a templated message that adheres to AB 685’s requirements so that in the case of exposure the message can be sent out immediately.

Communication Requirements: Public Health Agencies

Once there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the workforce, under AB 865, employers must immediately notify their local public health agency of an “outbreak” within 48 hours. According to J.D. Supra, the California Department of Public Health defines an “outbreak” as, “occurring when three or more employees who do not live in the same household have laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a two-week period.”

Under AB 865, an “infectious period” is considered 14 days, which includes a minimum of 48 hours prior to when the employee first reported and developed symptoms.

Enforcing Safety Violations: Cal/OSHA 

Cal/OSHA is responsible for protecting and improving the safety and health of employees across the State of California. Under AB 685, the National Law Review explains that Cal/OSHA has expanded power to enforce safety violations through immediate worksite shutdowns and citations. To do so, Cal/OSHA is authorized to act when it believes workers have been exposed to the coronavirus to the extent that being in the workplace is an “imminent hazard.”

Related Blog: Workplace Leadership and Workplace Safety: How they Correlate in  Manufacturing

Below are the three conditions - provided by the National Law Review - that must be met before a hazard is considered an imminent hazard:

  1. There must be a threat of death or serious physical harm.
  2. For a health hazard, there must be a reasonable expectation that toxic substances are present and exposure to them will shorten life or cause a significant reduction in physical or mental efficiency.
  3. The threat must be imminent or immediate. This means that death or serious physical harm could occur within a short time, for example, before Cal/OSHA could investigate the problem.

Keeping Employees Safe Amid COVID-19 

For any workplace safety bill, including the new California Assembly Bill 865, the goal is to keep workers safe. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, businesses and organizations across the United States have put extensive measures in place – from deep cleaning sanitization and enforced social distancing to workplace safety technologies, such as mass communication tools, and other digital technologies to support remote work.

Constant communication is essential throughout the pandemic, which is why many companies have leveraged their mass notification technologies and additional features such as SMS opt-in or polling capabilities to keeping employees informed and safe. Communication is key to business success during these unprecedented times.

Universal - Coronavirus Recovery Solution Corporate

CDC Finds High Percentage of Nursing-Related Occupations among HCP COVID Hospitalizations

November 3, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released data relating to health care personnel hospitalizations during the first wave of COVID-19. The data reveals more than a third of health care personnel admitted to hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 were in nursing-related occupations.

The first wave of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on health care personnel both physically and psychologically. Health care personnel were not only more vulnerable to the physical symptoms of the virus due to being exposed to infected individuals but were also required to work in stressful conditions without adequate personal protective equipment.

Related Blog: Why Healthcare Organizations Must Check-In on their Employees

At the time of the first wave, nobody was quite sure of the impact of COVID-19 on workers in nursing-related occupations. At the end of May, the CDC reported more than sixty thousand health care personnel had been infected and close to three hundred had died from COVID-19, but these numbers don't reveal the severity of the infections nor the occupations of health care workers.

Now the CDC has released selected data gathered from the COVID-NET system covering the period from March 1, 2020, to May 31, 2020. The data covers hospital admissions in thirteen states and analyzes 438 cases where the patients were known to be health care personnel. The key takeaways from the data are:

  • The 438 health care patients represented 5.9% of all analyzed hospital admissions attributable to COVID-19 on the COVID-Net system.
  • The median age of hospitalized health care personnel was 49 years, and 71.9% of hospitalized health care patients were female.
  • 4% of health care personnel hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19 worked in occupations in which direct patient contact was expected.
  • Of those in occupations with direct patient contact, more than 40% were nurses, 12% were nursing assistants, and 10% were caregivers.
  • Other occupations in which direct patient contact was expected included physicians, dental hygienists, and environmental services personnel.
  • Approximately 28% of these patients were admitted to an intensive care unit, 16% required invasive mechanical ventilation, and 4% died.

The CDC's report accompanying the data recognizes the analysis has limitations inasmuch as the data was abstracted from a review of medical charts which were not complete in all cases. Furthermore, because the medical charts did not record the level of patient contact or exposure history, some of the data analyzed for the benefit of the report may have been misclassified.

Related Blog: What You Need in Your Hospital Emergency Preparedness Plan

However, despite the relatively small sample size, the data confirms other research conducted about the impact of COVID-19 on nursing-related occupations and research about the impact of COVID-19 on people with underlying medical conditions. Almost 90% of health care personnel hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19 had an underlying condition such as obesity, diabetes, or asthma.

The Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Health Care Personnel

nurse covid-19 mental healthWhile the data reveals a lot of information about the short-term impact of COVID-19 on health care personnel, it needs to be taken in context with a report published by the CDC in July which revealed one-in-five previously healthy adults (i.e. with no underlying health conditions) had not returned to their previously healthy state within twenty-one days of testing positive for COVID-19.

The report notes “prolonged illness is well described in adults with severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalization, especially among older adults”, but states “these findings indicate that COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness even among persons with milder outpatient illness”. Concerningly, not all the symptoms of “long COVID” were physical, with 53% of respondents to the CDC's survey reporting the development of at least one psychiatric condition.

There has been little research done on the long-term psychological impact of COVID-19 on health care personnel in the USA. However, research conducted in Italy found that 71.2% of health care personnel had anxiety levels above the clinical cutoff irrespective of whether they had contracted COVID-19 or not. Similar to the CDC hospitalization report, the highest percentages of health care personnel suffering from elevated anxiety were among females in nursing-related occupations.

The Implications for Healthcare Organizations

The implications of these studies for healthcare organizations is that the existing shortage of nursing personnel is likely to be exacerbated. Already it has been estimated that more than one million registered nurses will be required to fulfill healthcare needs in the U.S. by 2022; and, with the long-term impact of COVID-19 on health care personnel potentially both younger and older personnel, one million more registered nurses may not be enough.

Related Blog: How Staffing Models in Healthcare Have Changed due to the  COVID-19 Crisis

The burden of the nursing shortage places added pressure on existing health care personnel. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many were reporting burnout and that their psychological condition led to an increase in physical workplace injuries. The shortage of nurses in the healthcare industry also impacts the standard of care provided by health care personnel in nursing-related occupations.

Healthcare organizations are not oblivious to the crisis – and how it may deteriorate. Many are looking at ways to alleviate the strain on health care personnel while reducing the management overhead of filling shift vacancies. For this reason, we have compiled an eBook – “Finding a Cure for Staffing Shortages” – which discusses how healthcare organizations can use technology to fill gaps in nursing shifts and automatically inform nurses when shifts are filled.

Universal - Nurse Staffing Shortages Ebook CTA

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