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Organizational safety is paramount amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and transparent communication plays a critical role: A recent survey from Kronos Incorporated conducted by The Harris Poll finds nearly 9 in 10 U.S. employees (86%) believe their employer has an “obligation” to notify employees who may have been in contact with a co-worker who tested positive for COVID-19 — a sentiment shared by a majority of U.S. employees currently going into work (89%) and working from home due to the pandemic (86%).

Two separate Kronos surveys — one, a survey of 1,226 employed U.S. adults conducted online by The Harris Poll, and the other, a global survey of 3,903 employees across 10 countries conducted by Workplace Intelligence — help to debunk a misconception around COVID-19 contact tracing, which suggests employee privacy concerns outweigh safety concerns. In fact, the vast majority of employees surveyed globally by Workplace Intelligence (86%) are comfortable to varying degrees with employer-led contact tracing, which may be the key to setting a risk-adverse workforce at ease.

News Facts

  • As U.S. organizations increasingly ask their people to return to work, employee concerns must be addressed.
    • Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. employees (88%) currently working from home due to COVID-19 would not want to risk returning to their workplace if there were rising cases of COVID-19 in their region, which could have an impact on employers’ reopening plans. (Source: Kronos and The Harris Poll)
    • Additionally, 66% of U.S. employees going into work right now feel the same way: 2 in 3 would not want to risk going into their physical workplace any longer if there were rising cases of COVID-19 in their region. (Source: Kronos and The Harris Poll)
  • In workplaces around the world, expectations from the workforce are high for employers to create environments that are as safe as possible.
    • Globally, 3 in 4 employees (75%) say they trust their employer to create a physically safe and healthy work environment. Employees in North America (Canada: 80%; Mexico: 80%; U.S.: 76%) are more trusting than in Europe (U.K.: 74%; Germany: 67%; France: 63%; the Netherlands: 63%), as are full-time employees (77%) compared to part-time employees (68%) worldwide. (Source: Kronos and Workplace Intelligence)
    • That trust extends to contact tracing at work: 86% of employees worldwide are at least “a little” comfortable with contact tracing led by their employer for the purpose of organizational safety. In fact, nearly half (45%) are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable, while just 29% and 12% are either “somewhat” or “a little” comfortable, respectively, with employer-led contact tracing. (Source: Kronos and Workplace Intelligence)
  • With few opposed to the concept of contact tracing at work, the question for employers is not “should we,” but “how should we approach contact tracing?”
    • In order to safeguard organizational safety, around half of employees (48% globally; 50% in the U.S.) say they are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable with a workforce management approach to contact tracing, i.e., allowing their employer to use their work schedule records to identify and manage employees who have been exposed to the virus at work and to help prevent onward transmission. (Source: Kronos and Workplace Intelligence)
    • Employees are equally accepting of employer-led contact tracing using access control/workplace movement records (48% globally; 51% in the U.S.), while 2 in 5 employees (39% globally; 40% in the U.S.) are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable allowing their employer to leverage their mobile device for contact tracing purposes. (Source: Kronos and Workplace Intelligence)
    • Generation Z and Younger Millennials1 worldwide consistently report greater comfortability with various forms of contact tracing than do their generational counterparts (49% and 48%, respectively, are at least “very” comfortable), as do employees based in India (66% are at least “very” comfortable) compared to other countries surveyed. Finally, only 14% of employees worldwide are “not at all” comfortable with contact tracing at work. (Source: Kronos and Workplace Intelligence)

Supporting Quotes

  • Gregg Gordon, vice president, industry, Kronos
    “Employees have demonstrated that they do have safety concerns in the workplace, but generally trust their employer to take care of them. This should signal to employers that they have a responsibility to step up and employ all methods necessary to protect workers physically and mentally during COVID-19, regardless of whether employees have worked all through the pandemic, have recently come back to the workplace, or won’t be brought back for another few months. As the data shows, employer-driven methods of contact tracing are not unwanted among the workforce, though education and transparent communication cannot be overlooked when introducing new policies or protocols related to organizational safety.”