Devan Moonsamy, the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, has some sound advice to combat the stigma of COVID-19 in the workplace.
South Africa (06 July 2020) – The number of people tested positive for COVID-19 is on the rise with regions seeing a drastic increase in a matter of days. With this, we have also seen online stories of people who claim to not be showing any symptoms of the virus but still having their test showing positive.
Many offices have resumed work but what has been a sore topic is the stigma around the virus. As much as the symptoms to the virus are similar to a flu, people with sinus and usual winter health issues get the ‘glare’ when they cough or sneeze in the office.
We obviously can’t send every person home with a slight sneeze or cough but what we can do at the office is encourage those who have the flu symptoms to work from home. This not just prevents them from being glared at the office but also safeguards from being exposed to people while sick.
But this needs to be communicated. Instead of just assuming people are going to realise this send an email highlighting the need to protect your employees. Also ensure that this is communicated not in a manner to put them under the spotlight but to safeguard the spread of bacteria at the workspace.
It seems as though the stigma around the virus is growing. People might be sceptical about associating with someone who has previously tested positive in the workplace. We have to realise that people are being tested, treated and recovering from the virus.
As an owner of an organisation, implement strict rules about social distancing. Ensure employees have access to sanitisers and that sanitising of the office is done each afternoon when the employees leave for the end of the day.
These are but a few things that we should be already be doing if we have staff working from the office. A lot of staff also travel by public transport we should ensure they are not victimised in the workplace. We must understand the virus does not target you based on where you stay and how you travel to work. So do not put on a mask when you see a colleague who uses public transport but take it off when talking to someone who has their own vehicle.
Right now as an employee of a company just ensure you are sanitising and wearing your mask whenever you are out of your home. The only way to safeguard you and your family is to take the necessary steps of precaution. But while doing so remember the virus does not select a specific race group, gender or culture. Anyone can get it so always keep your mask on when interacting outside your home.