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The Human Resource Dilemma in Covid-19 Times

Updated on January 1, 2021

To know or Not to know

That really is the bottom line question most large or small businesses during the virus pandemic and how their own HR policies may or may not contradict the CDC guidelines, many of which, seem to contradict logic.

When it comes to most businesses, it is fair to guess that HR policies are all revolving around privacy and staffing of the store. The big box stores, like Lowes, Home Depot, Target, etc., have a nightmare scenario with the virus and keeping adequate staffing to provide customer service, while smaller stores, the issue is much smaller. For the large stores, it really is all about staffing in various departments and not really about their employees. After all, when the virus rips through a store or department, suddenly, other employees need to be shifted to cover them and pretty soon it can end up a skeleton staff spread too thin to provide good customer service.

The I Don't Wanna Know Approach

Many big chain stores take the "ostrich head in the sand" approach when it comes to the virus. What this means in practicable sense is that HR is pretending the virus pandemic does not exist or will impact them. Instead of promoting testing for the virus, they just don't bring the subject up with employees. We know many out there with the virus are asymptomatic and easily spread it without knowing it. But stores in this category have policy of, "if you feel fine, you are fine and we need you to come to work". Even if you have some minor flu-like symptoms, they still don't want to know if you do or do not have the virus because if you are tested and positive, then suddenly, you're not working for 10-14 days and this strains the staffing coverage. Multiply this by even a few, and now there is a crisis.

Some big box stores have silly online screening questions each employee must complete before coming into work. These questions are:

1. Do you have any Covid symptoms?

2. Have you been around anyone with Covid? (How would an employee know who in the store has it or not, whether its a co-employee or customer?)

3. Will you agree to keep social distancing and wearing of a mask?

4. Did you get a Covid test?

Human nature what it is, one just knows some employees will simply lie in order to keep working to earn money. If one answers Yes to questions 1 and 2, you are flagged and you need to call a manager for more questions. If you answer No to question 3, you are breaking company policy and cannot return until you agree! And in question 4, if you say yes, one has to explain why to a manager.

When a person within a store or department does have the virus, the store policy remains one of "I don't wanna know" more. First, they act as if it is a HIPPA covered issue so that nothing can be disclosed, which is simply a lie. But they toss that out there to scare employees from gossip. They try to keep the knowledge secret as to how many and whom have the virus within a store and will even lie about that number. These stores will not test or tell employees within a department to test when one or more of the same department are known to have the virus (because of their long absence or they have disclosed it). Why? It's all about staffing it. If other members within a department test and are positive, suddenly, there is a crisis in staffing it. So, for these companies, it is simply better to NOT know and NOT promote testing for the virus, which is quite the opposite of what the CDC and WHO wants to be done. They want MORE testing. Its a big contradiction that no doubt has helped spread the virus. Should an employee elect to get tested, management acts dumbfounded, as in, "Why, do such a thing?". For many, they just want to know, for peace of mind. Then, you will be asked if you have symptoms. Then, you will remain not working until the results come back negative. For HR, it is just about staffing and they prefer no employee gets tested because of the ramifications it has on staffing,

Lastly, because of the confusing and at times, contradicting guidelines from the CDC, many stores will NOT have the employee retest after they have been positive and out for 10-14 days. The CDC states that a retest is not necessary! They have switched their position on this before. But, it is just common sense, is it not, for someone who was positive to retest and prove negativity before returning to work.

How can be sure they are no longer contagious or still has it unless a retest happens?


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