Responding to Omicron

Responding to Omicron

By: Cindy Klatt, President of Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group

How are—and how should—employers respond to the Omicron variant? Or the next variant that comes along? Thankfully, new coronavirus cases are finally beginning to decline across the country following the surge in mid-January. However, the question on how to respond to Omicron and any future variant continues to keep employers up at night. According to research executed by SHRM, 67 percent of employers said they were very or extremely concerned about their organization’s ability to keep employees and customers safe due to Omicron. Understandably, so. 

Hospitality businesses, in particular, are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The New York Times recently reported on the quandary that restaurants in New York are facing when it comes to remaining open or shutting down when an employee tests positive. It continues to be a loose loose situation. The New York Times reported, “Without hard rules about employees who test positive, owners and workers are weighing safety against finances, and not always agreeing on the answer.” 

So, what can we do to protect our employees, clients, and customers while keeping our businesses operating? We can’t control everything, but there are a few things we can do to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our businesses:

Establish layers of protection in the workplace

It’s imperative to be proactive about minimizing exposure in the workplace through layers of protection, such as masking, social distancing and remote working. At KWIG, we set up flexible hours and a hybrid work schedule. We also make sure that the people in the office are evenly and adequately spaced out throughout the office.

Unfortunately, not all businesses have the luxury of working from home or spread out in an office. However, layers of protection can still be established. For instance, many hotels enacted additional cleaning/sanitizing efforts and began using digital check-in systems to minimize check-in interaction in addition to wearing masks, gloves, and other PPE despite lifted mask mandates. Every business is different, so determine what works. Consider your operations, talk to your team and be willing to make changes to accommodate their input. 

Be communicative and flexible as the virus continues to evolve

As always, communication is key. Stay up to date with local transmission rates and CDC guidelines. As you make changes to workplace safety protocols, clearly communicate them with your team and clients/customers. Make sure they are heard and understood. 

Be prepared for the next “unprecedented event”

The pandemic and all its fallout present opportunities to learn and be better prepared for the next “unprecedented event.” The pandemic was not the first unexpected business interruption, and it won’t be the last. How can your business learn and adapt based on your experiences through the pandemic? 

Years ago, businesses would not have considered Employment Practices Liability or Cyber Liability insurance coverage a necessity. But, look where we are now. Highly-publicized employee liability lawsuits and record-breaking cyber attacks made those policies more important than ever before. 

Unforeseen events like these present opportunities. Is it time to revise business plans with contingencies in place? Is it time to consider additional insurance products or risk management tools? We’re here to help you find a solution. 

Be Protected for the Unexpected

KWIG is here to be sure you’re protected when things go wrong. As experts in the unexpected, we thoroughly understand your industry’s ever-changing issues and deliver current risk management solutions to each individual client. Contact us to talk about your business and how we can help.