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Managing Workplace Wellness Programs in an Endemic World

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Why should employers update their workplace wellness program to meet the needs of an endemic workplace? Today, businesses are struggling to hire and retain high quality employees. Before the pandemic, workplace wellness programs focused on making offices fun with initiatives such as free lunches and exercise classes. Many employees didn’t pay much attention to the health and safety policies or the OSHA safety posters hanging in the break room.

Today’s workplace is completely different, employees need to know their workplace safety policies not only for their well-being but for their friends and potentially vulnerable family members or dependents. The definition of a great workplace has changed. Now a great place to work provides a safe and healthy environment that prioritizes employee wellness, flexibility, and culture. Employee wellness programs are a coordinated effort to provide employees with resources to support their physical and mental health. Workplace flexibility enables employees to adopt a schedule that best fits their needs in a post-pandemic world. Culture ensures that employees feel comfortable and supported by their colleagues and free to express their needs. 

Top concerns in today’s boardrooms include business disruption, absenteeism, legal liabilities, and employee retention. The great resignation has made it difficult to hire and retain top talent and pandemic related absences cost employers 1 billion per week.


The leading companies have established initiatives to ensure a safe workplace and to address these new business risks. If you are designing a workplace wellness program today or expanding your existing one, you will need to take the following 4 steps.

  1. Survey Employees to Identify their Needs
  2. Safeguard Operations Critical to Business Continuity 
  3. Establish an Endemic COVID Protocol that can flex up/down as local risk levels change
  4. Create a flexible work program

If you’re thinking where do I start? Don’t worry we’ll walk you through each step. 

Survey Employees to Identify their Needs

It is imperative that companies survey employees on their sentiments whether it’s the impact COVID-19 has had on their mental well-being, their personal risk factors, or how the pandemic has changed their needs of the employer. For example, business leaders could be fostering a negative culture if a majority of their employees would like a vaccine requirement in place but aren’t able to express these sentiments. 

For our part, ReturnSafe conducted a Future of Workplace Survey to gauge general sentiment regarding the future of infectious disease at the workplace.

Safeguard Operations Critical to Business Continuity

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the pandemic it is that COVID-19 had a significant negative impact on operations that required in-person interactions. From construction and manufacturing to banks and laboratories. Operations that require in-person operations risk disruptions due to absenteeism caused by  an outbreak.  It is still OSHA’s duty to ensure employers maintain a safe workplace and employers will need to avoid incurring liabilities on vital operations. 

By simply having situational awareness and taking appropriate preventive measures to protect workers, employers can avoid liability and create a safe and productive workplace for all employees. Situational awareness is key to understanding when safety measures need to be adjusted as risks change. HR should have policies with triggers in place such as local positive rates and hospitalization rates. When the safety program needs to be adjusted because of a rise in a risk factor, employers should communicate the policy change and rationale to employees. It’s  simple “If the forecast is rain, you wear a raincoat”. This analogy holds true for endemic COVID where risks are known and we have the tools to protect ourselves. 

Our COVID Risk Predictor provides situational awareness for HR leaders. How do you know you are taking all the appropriate precautions according to your risk level? We’ll cover this in the next section.

Establish an Endemic COVID Protocol

The States such as California are adopting an “endemic” approach to COVID-19. This approach emphasizes encouraging vaccines, boosters, and regular test tracking. Employers can follow their lead by establishing a safety policy as well as vaccine or booster initiatives.

Create a Flexible Work Program

Some operations will always require employees to enter the offices, however there are workers who were and are able to operate on a hybrid schedule. Over the course of the pandemic, these employees became accustomed to working remotely and many would like to keep at least a partial work-week at home.

In order to balance meeting employees' needs with ensuring safe and profitable operations, leadership needs to decide on the operations which need to continue in-person and those which can be adapted to a flexible schedule for the well-being of workers, especially those with children or other dependents.

Here are a few factors to consider when creating your flexible work policy:


We’re here to support you

As you navigate this journey, our team of experts is available to help you craft a policy and program that best meet your organization’s needs. We’ve been working with companies navigating the terrain of the pandemic since 2020 and our solution is built to evolve with the changing landscape of COVID-19.

Who will be responsible for managing your workplace wellness program? HR teams have faced many unexpected challenges amidst the pandemic. With an all-inclusive COVID-19 safety solution, employers can lighten the burden on administrators. ReturnSafe’s digital platform provides case management, and vaccine and test tracking tools to provide a full view of safety and risk at the workplace.

Contact us today to learn more!