Our weekly report, Stepping Up, brings you a selection of the latest issues arising from COVID-19 and how brands can make a difference. 

THIS WEEK’S EMERGING ISSUES

As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to grow, so do many of the problems requiring our attention: 

Planning the Return to Work
As employers begin preparing for the challenges and questions that will accompany our eventual return to work, there are a range of potential issues to consider.  

  • Organizations must begin creating comprehensive back-to-work plans that communicate clearly to employees the steps they are taking to ensure their health, wellness and safety.   
  • Some companies may welcome employees back in phases, require health screenings at entrances and ask workers to wear masks or other protective gear on the job. 
  • Others may change floor plans, reroute workers through separate entrances and exits, and stagger shifts to limit interaction. 

Have you started thinking about what your back-to-work plan will look like and how you will ensure the safety of your employees and listen to their concerns? 

Resource: Preparing For Workforce Re-introduction in the Era of COVID-19, available here.

The Impact on Women
A recent study and UN report show the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, and the potential consequences for women’s lives and gender equality more broadly.  

  • One in three jobs held by women has been designated as essential, according to a New York Times analysis
  • Women make up nearly nine out of 10 nurses and nursing assistants, most respiratory therapists, most pharmacists and an overwhelming majority of pharmacy aides and technicians. 
  • More than two-thirds of grocery store checkout and fast food counter workers are also women.  

How can you help address the burden of COVID-19 on women, celebrate and reward their impact on your business, and help ensure progress made on gender equality is not undone? 

Women Leading the Way
Female world leaders continue to be recognized as voices of reason amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

  • They have attracted praise for effective messaging and decisive action.  
  • Their approach stands in contrast to that of several prominent male world leaders – including those facing criticism for actions taken and not taken early in the crisis.  

What lessons can your business learn from the strong and effective leadership shown by women leaders across the world? 

Anger over Stay-at-home Orders
This week we saw many stories and videos of protests erupting over coronavirus shelter-in-place orders.  

  • We are also seeing certain areas beginning to relax stay-at-home and shutdown orders.  
  • Health officials warn it’s too soon and that loosening restrictions risks a new spike in infections.  

The next phase of the crisis will be more contentious than the lockdown; are you anticipating and preparing for the potential issues?

COVID-19 Burnout
We are seeing more stories documenting the effects of the pressure on people caused by the pandemic.

  • Parents bending under the strain of working, parenting and teaching; essential workers and caregivers at breaking point from putting their health and safety on the line for a paycheque, while trying to look after themselves and their families.
  • The overwhelming focus on treating COVID-19 patients has meant less of a focus on people suffering from other diseases.  
  • Examples of people who might otherwise seek treatment for themselves or their children foregoing that treatment due to fears of COVID-19, including routine vaccinations for children. 
  • Due to the impact of COVID-19 on health systems, doctors and patients alike have been forced to confront a hard question: How long is too long to postpone medical care or treatment? 

Public health statistics are also a reflection of what is happening in the lives of our colleagues; how are you planning to ensure your people are aware of and can access the support they need?

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