The pandemic has created a more complex office environment—from health screenings to new desk setups. And the situation changes as public health guidelines evolve.
This shift has put workplace safety at the forefront for employers, says Gretchen Alarcon, vice president and general manager of ServiceNow’s Human Resources Delivery business. As companies adopt hybrid workplace policies, they need a comprehensive digital platform that answers employee questions promptly and allows employers to adapt to new rules.
“One of the hallmarks when you’re in crisis management is clear, consistent communication—the same message again and again and again,” Alarcon says. “That is still needed as you’re thinking about anything from an employee safety standpoint.”
Systems For Safety
“As soon as there is a change in something that impacts people’s health and safety, whether that is a new variant or the first time Covid-19 came out, or even people returning to the office, we go right back to that safety and security layer,” she says.
But helping employees feel safe on the job is more complicated today as they worry about avoiding a transmissible virus inside office cubicles and conference rooms.
At Capri Holdings, those new challenges and tasks include managing what happens after an employee tests positive for Covid-19 and keeping workers up-to-date about the latest safety protocols, according to a senior vice president for global store design and development at the global fashion luxury group. They’ve also developed a system for hybrid workers to book a desk before they arrive and see how many co-workers will be in the office.
Trust And Transparency
An environment of trust between employer and employees is critical when implementing a new workplace safety initiative, the Capri Holdings SVP says. And trust is built through transparency of processes and practices, Alarcon adds. Clear communication is possible with digital workflows that ease employees back to their physical workspace.
It’s the kind of platform that NTT DATA is deploying after its hybrid workforce skyrocketed.
“The pandemic changed the way we work and forced us to rethink all aspects of the employee experience, from ensuring the safety of our workforce to efficient vaccine administration,” says Dai Urano, vice president of business transformation, strategy office, at the corporate headquarters of NTT DATA.
Headquartered in Tokyo, NTT DATA is launching an employee platform called the EX Platform, which will provide employees with a single destination to find documents, request services and seamlessly communicate across departments. As part of Japan’s national effort to quickly vaccinate all workers, NTT DATA also is relying on ServiceNow’s Vaccine Administration Management solution to create and manage appointments.
“Our people are always the source of value creation and our most valuable assets,” says Toshi Fujiwara, representative director and senior executive vice president of NTT DATA Corporation. “That’s why we have focused on ensuring the health and safety of our employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. Workplace vaccination is one of our main priorities.”
Streamlining And Preparing
With a unified employee experience, people can quickly find back-to-office rules, fill out a request to return, reserve desk space and submit their vaccine information before they even reach their office’s front door, Alarcon says. An easy-to-use, searchable database can answer their frequently asked questions. When more complicated queries are posed, it can send them directly to the individual who has the information they need.
“Part of that safety and security level of Maslow’s hierarchy is the security part, which is, ‘I trust that you are following best practices so that I am entering a safe environment,’” Alarcon says. “Using these tools and technologies helps us get to that outcome.”
An employee portal focused on workplace safety also helps HR and company leaders, she says. With it, they can send targeted messages to single groups of employees and capture information about vaccine compliance. It also offers visibility into how and where people are working as they return—and make changes as needed.
These benefits can be baked into operations across the organization—building systems to sign in visitors or keep remote workers informed about everything from cybersecurity to ergonomics. Full-service employee portals will provide the framework that organizations need when other emergencies—from a new variant to a natural disaster—occur.
“We may not be in a crisis right now,” she says, “but we do still need to have a very clear communication strategy and very clear processes for our employees so when the attention rises back up again, people know where to go.”