This is how organisations can be productive and protect people’s wellbeing during the pandemic
By Jannie Erasmus, head of surveillance and analytics at NEC XON
Absenteeism, mental health issues related to stress and anxiety, declining productivity and sliding motivation are steadily rising around the world as well as right here in South Africa.
Estimates of absenteeism in South Africa suggest as many as 6 million people take sick leave each day. The costs to companies and the economy are enormous.
The stress and anxiety caused by Covid-19 can be crippling. In the US 41% of people who responded to a Society for Human Resource Management survey felt burned out because of Covid-19. You can see the full survey results here.
Companies are retrenching staff, working short hours, and even closing down because of the economic impacts of Covid-19 and lockdown. Many people must work from home where they cannot connect with their colleagues and clients. Managers, ill-equipped to deal with the scenario, may struggle to monitor work performance. Many people therefore want to return to the office. In other instances, people are encouraged to return to the office and, fearing job security, they do so despite their health reservations.
The upshot is often loneliness when they stay home, stress, anxiety and depression whether they are home or return to the office, the effects of which can include declining productivity and poor performance.
It creates a downward spiral.
But many companies are using Covid-19 safety protocols, information resources, coaches, mentors, and technologies to help their people, both employees and visitors to their buildings, feel safer, less stressed and less anxious.
Automating routine tasks is what technology does well. One of the routine scenarios we now have because of Covid-19 is checking peoples’ temperatures, the Covid-19 questionnaire, and recording details for contact tracing.
Many companies struggle with manual systems, either paper-based or apps that don’t give them the functionality they need to do it right, quickly, or efficiently.
One goal of companies is to move people safely through reception. You can’t do that when there are queues of people waiting to take their turn at the clipboard or have someone type their details into a spreadsheet or app. It slows the entire process, which impacts productivity. Neither outcome alleviates peoples’ stresses and anxieties.
HR and other executives are responsible for compliance, health and safety. They need up to date information that is accessible in real-time should there be a suspected exposure to Covid-19. A spreadsheet or app are better than paper records, but a real-time dashboard is the right tool for that job.
Executives and managers need to manage time and attendance. Paper-based systems are prone to error, time consuming, and resource-intensive.
Proper screening is a major challenge for many organisations. Handheld temperature scanners aren’t necessarily effective nor accurate given the variability of conditions where they are sometimes used. The ability to unite the entire Covid-19 screening, monitoring and management process with accurate real-time records helps people feel safe. It also cuts the overhead on overworked HR, health and safety departments.
People want to reintegrate their workforces back into the economy. They want to reduce stress and absenteeism, so their people are happy and productive. But this is a challenging and hostile environment where employees often fear it’s a case of only the toughest survive.
Artificial intelligence (AI) based technology holds the key to relieving the burdens on HR, providing cost-effective and safe access, monitoring and managing Covid-19 protocols, and helping employees to feel safer and be more productive.
NeoFace Watch Thermal protects organisations, their customers and employees, through contactless monitoring and management of Covid-19 protocols, providing real-time dashboards and process automation in a cost-effective solution that keeps people safe.
The US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has recognised the facial recognition platform as the global leader for the past 17 years. It successfully monitors tens of thousands of people in the most demanding safety and security applications at public facilities worldwide.
Crucially, it complies with GDPR and POPI. It enables consenting employees and visitors to digitally pre-register their details, which significantly speeds up building access.
For employees and workers, already anxious and stressed, who must daily face environments exposed to the economic, health and safety ravages of lockdown and Covid-19, advanced technology is a comfort to shrink absenteeism and improve mental health. This is how we regain control and create sustainable workplace protocols.