Technology Is Missing in Return-To-Work Strategies: Appian and LeadToMarket (LTM) Survey


97% of respondents feel that they don’t need to invest in technology solutions to aid a safe return to the workplace.

Several companies have launched a range of return-to-work solutions recently. These solutions are designed to address the needs of organizations readying themselves to bring back employees into the physical workplace. Most solutions include workplace readiness surveys and contact tracing tech at their core, available for almost all organizations of different sizes. The bigger question is – is there a demand for these solutions, or is it expected to rise?

Evidently not. Appian and LeadToMarket (LTM) ResearchOpens a new window partnered to survey HR professionals fir insights on how companies are preparing for the return of their employees to the workplace as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The survey’s main purpose was to analyze organizational tactics, strategies, and timelines for bringing back employees, asking HR leaders about their top concerns.

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A Tactical, Not a Strategic, Approach to Return to Work

The “COVID-19 HR Survey: Returning the Workforce to the Workplace” report has revealed results from 200 HR professionals working at companies with at least 1,000 employees. The major finding is that most companies emphasize the tactical and not the strategic element in their approach.

Some of the tactical steps being taken and their prevalence is:

  1. Requiring face coverings for employees (100%)
  2. Limiting capacity to facilitate social distancing (79%)
  3. Cleaning and sanitizing the workplace during the workday (78%)
  4. Conducting daily health screenings (71%)

However, a very significant portion – 97% of respondents – feel that they do not need to invest in technology solutions to aid a safe return to the workplace. Also, 89% think that they don’t need new software solutions to manage their return to work COVID-19 response policy. Only 23% of respondents are concerned that their return-to-work technology does not incorporate contact tracing.

Some reasons why organizations don’t use, nor do they plan to use, technology to monitor and support employee health may include the inability to visualize the impact of these tools, the costs involved, or the perceived amount of work involved attuning employees to new physical safety regulations. While these may be challenges they are grappling with, employees could be at risk as they are, in some cases, forced to return to work.

Even though there seems to be slower adoption of technology for employee wellness, technology solutions providers have introduced a massive range of options to evaluate and choose from.

For instance, Workday and IBMOpens a new window will together ensure that organizations have technology at their fingertips to find and share information on local guidelines, governmental policies, employee sentiment, facility readiness, and personal protective equipment (PPE). It will create model site capacity and evaluate employee roles and eligibility for return to the workplace, evaluate community risk based on where employees live, monitor critical supplies of PPE, masks, gloves, and sanitizers at locations, and continuously evaluate workforce readiness for returning to work.

Bright Talent’s “Roadmap to Return to Workplace” has a range of non-invasive support tools that can help organizations plan their workforce’s return seamlessly. The critical feature of this is the emphasis on communication plans. Communicating with clarity and compassion in a time of rapid change is at the core of this solution.

Conversa Employee HealthCheck, HealthCheck by Stratum, Infosys, and ShareCare are some other recent solutions that have come up to aid a safe return to work.

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Appian’s survey has revealed that most HR professionals are not concerned about the lack of contact tracing apps in their return-to-work technology. A PwC surveyOpens a new window of more than 1,000 employees conducted in May 2020 found that 31% of employees have reported being very concerned about having to install apps that track their location and proximity to infected individuals. HR professionals and employees likely feel that this is invasive and that this data can be used for discrimination. However, some tech solutions include contact tracing as an optional feature to address this concern.

So while using tech has proven benefits, the choice of technology, how it works, and employees’ acceptance of this technology are concerns that organizations will have to assess before rolling it out.