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PESA HR Town Hall Explores Best Practices on Navigating through the Pandemic and Return-to-Work Procedures

During a virtual town hall meeting, attendees discussed steps to help companies navigate the pandemic, as well as lessons learned as they begin the slow process of bringing employees back into the workplace.

PESA Advisory Board Member Bonnie Houston, Chief Administrative Officer, NOV, facilitated the town hall and opened the meeting with an overview of measures companies have taken when dealing with staff who have tested positive or are showing symptoms.

Returning to Work

Companies agreed it’s advisable to take a conservative approach when returning workers to offices and company facilities. Participants on the call concurred it’s best to let local leadership take a lead decision-making role for their facility because they’re best positioned to gauge specific conditions.

Companies are slowly returning while adhering to local guidelines and regulations to stay under 50% maximum occupancy.  PESA Advisory Board Member Dave Warnick, Division VP HR, Weir Oil & Gas, recommended that companies avoid relying solely on testing staff. He said companies should also check to see if employees are symptomatic or have been exposed to anyone testing positive.

Navigating Positive Results

Attendees discussed how to manage faulty or confusing test results. One company representative said they had an employee test positive one day and then negative a few days later.

Companies are implementing various measures when employees test positive, including enhanced cleaning protocols, contact tracing, special conversations and closing entire sites. All companies required the employee to isolate at home and meet health requirements to return to work.

Working with local governments and following government guidelines, companies are requiring employees who test positive to provide documentation from their doctor of a negative diagnosis, receive medical clearance, or wait at least 14 days from their last symptom to return to work.

Most companies are conducting contact tracing. No one has implemented a specific app or technology but are instead relying on established communication channels to contact other employees and reduce the spread of the virus. Those who had contact with the infected person have been sent home until results showed they were negative.

Lessons Learned

Committee Chair Bonnie Houston led a conversation of the most impactful crisis response lessons learned.

“We have been tested with hurricanes and natural disasters,” Houston said. “This is our first pandemic and this experience heightened the need to prepare.”

The group agreed the experience taught them the importance of their IT infrastructure and the critical nature of adaptability and resiliency within their workforce.

They learned their teams can be just as efficient when working remotely. Participants were astonished by the productivity and said they are evaluating current remote working policies and may introduce greater flexibility in the future. Formally introducing new policies will take a backseat as companies focus on immediate concerns related to the pandemic and oil prices.

The group discussed the need to take an active role in helping employees balance fear of returning to the office and feelings of isolation. Several companies created more touchpoints to provide social interaction like happy hours or roundtables. Others are also asking for volunteers who want to return to the office.

One company indicated they realized the OFS sector’s long-term efforts to protect worker health and safety allowed them to more easily adapt to precautionary measures and establish new procedures.

Companies are being careful with how mask requirements are communicated to employees and are generally following CDC guidelines.

The major lesson learned by all companies was the significance of communication and the need to communicate purposefully, frequently and effectively.

PESA will continue to hold town halls and compile the various individual, local, state and federal resources for these discussions. To join the HR town halls, contact Director Membership Services Carolynn Henriquez.

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