One year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to close their doors, even temporarily, many hiring decision-makers say their companies have made changes to keep employees safe in physical workplaces.
This is according to a new survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.
Hiring decision-makers reported safety changes made in the last several months include:
Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) also believe their company offers employees adequate PPE.
To this point, around 7 in 10 (71%) say they feel completely safe going to work in a physical workplace (e.g., an office) right now or feel safer physically going into work now than they did when the COVID-19 pandemic first began (69%).
Express experts around the country say their clients have taken the above measures in workplaces to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
"A very large percentage of companies have taken an extraordinary number of steps to ensure workplace safety," said Bernie Inbody, Express franchise owner in Omaha, Nebraska. "It impacts their bottom line, public image and ability to recruit talent to meet their business needs."
In Everett, Washington, local Express franchise owner Stacey Snodgrass says she is confident her clients are providing adequate PPE such as masks and have implemented social distancing. But that is not always the case at other businesses in her community that are not clients of Express.
"Some companies have never been cleaner and are very focused on COVID-19 safety, but I know out in the community there are several companies not following the recommended safety guidelines," she said.
Jan Riggins, general manager for two Express franchises in Fort Worth, Texas, says keeping workers safe has become more of a personal mission for her clients.
"Because we work with small- to medium-sized companies, often the owners and management are working at the local location, and their safety and the safety of their employees is very much top-of-mind," she added.
As for whether workers feel safe going into facilities one year after COVID-19 first hit, Riggins says for anyone who maintained social isolation for the majority of the pandemic, she definitely sees a desire to only consider remote, work-at-home opportunities.
"However, for the majority of job seekers we work with that have been working in a physical office or location, we see a comfort level going into a workplace if COVID-19 safety protocols are followed," she said.
Snodgrass says she feels about half of employees in her area feel completely safe going to work, depending on how businesses are handling employee protective measures.
"We have asked all of our clients for their COVID-19 safety plans and shared our plan with them to help them write their own if one didn't exist," she said. "As a company, safety is always top of mind for Express."
And for Inbody, he attributes workers' confidence in business safety more as a sign of pandemic fatigue than anything else, adding that employees are ready to return to a workplace setting if proper safety measures are in place.
"Investing in employees has always been important for hiring and retention of top talent, but keeping them safe during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic is essential to company survival," Express CEO Bill Stoller said. "I'm pleased to see so many companies taking measures to protect their greatest assets."
The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, 2020, among 1,002 U.S. hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in the U.S. who are employed full-time or self-employed, work at companies with more than one employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data was weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.