A Protocol for Staying Ahead of COVID-19 at Work
What if one of your employees tests positive and is hospitalized with COVID-19?
The swift, logical answer would be these wise practical guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet, what leader and his or her senior team can resist the personal story of a trusted leader with on-the-ground experience in these challenging times? Such a person is Tom Ascher, Director, Human Resources at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.
His thoughtful responses come out of the extended practices of careful listening, clear two-way communication, and ongoing collaboration—traits of a healthy, flourishing organizational culture—which have helped make Olivet a Certified Best Christian Workplace:
What’s been one of the most challenging things in drawing up a protocol for dealing with COVID-infected employees during this stubborn, aggressive pandemic?
Employees consider themselves a family in many cases and interacting only through virtual meetings takes a toll after a few months. We have learned that our supervisors especially, need to stay in close virtual contact with their team. Although there is some efficiency in not having personal conversations or office parties, it is important that we maintain that personal connection with one another.
What one or two values and commitments of the University have been key to Olivet’s response to COVID’s impact on your community, again particularly with your employees?
There are certainly many different perspectives and viewpoints when it comes to COVID-19 and the guidelines and policies that come along with it. Whether it is canceling events, socially distancing, or wearing a mask, not everyone is in complete unison. However, from the beginning, we have asked our employees to remember in particular the Olivet Value of Community, and one of our People Principles, Exhibit Grace.
For those that do not particularly enjoy wearing a mask, or other guidelines, we ask that they live in a Christ-like manner in this community, where we are willing to sacrifice our comfort for the benefit of others. And for those that agree with the guidelines and work with others that do not, we ask that they Exhibit Grace. This is new to all of us, and it takes time for people to adjust.
Surely you have a favorite story that’s reaffirmed your faith and conviction that God remains present and faithful in the midst of ongoing uncertainty?
There have been many stories, and I believe that each employee has gone above and beyond their normal duties during the past several months. Within a week’s time in March, our Traditional Faculty brought their classes fully online and completed the semester successfully.
A majority of our employees were giving about two days to transfer to working from home. While most had never worked from home, they continued to serve the students and the ONU community well:
- Our IT department actually went to several employee homes to help them set up their workstations.
- Over the summer, many of our nine- and ten-month employees gave up much of their time off to help prepare for the Fall semester so that we could bring students back to campus.
- Currently, we have several employees from across campus assisting our Health Services team as they manage COVID-19 cases and contact tracing on campus.
Through all of these challenges, I have seen the body of Christ work in amazing ways. He has been faithful as He promises and has never left our side.
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