What Australia and the US should learn from very different COVID-19 experiences.
Until recently, from the outside looking in, Australia has been very successful in managing COVID-19. With tight border controls and safety measures in place, most of the country enjoyed a 2020 that was unthinkable in the United States.
However, as recent weeks have shown, total avoidance of COVID-19 is not a sustainable strategy. As vaccines become more available, the conversation shifts to long-term management of the pandemic and what that means for business. Consumer confidence and behavioural trends are fundamental considerations.
It’s useful to look to countries further along the vaccination journey to understand what lies ahead for Australian business. The American experience offers guidance on what safety measures consumers want to see. Recent research by SafetyCulture and YouGov reveals simple things businesses should do to increase consumer confidence.
The vast majority of respondents (84%) said that making face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser supplies available and enforcing use would increase confidence in a business*. Listing cleaning activities with completion status (85%) and maintaining social distancing protocols (82%) were also rated highly*.
The research shows that maintaining consumer confidence is not a ‘set and forget’ endeavour. It must be an ongoing and evolving effort that responds to consumer needs. In America, this means rebuilding confidence after the devastation of COVID-19. In Australia, it’s about maintaining confidence as outbreaks are managed and long-term planning begins.
As neither vaccines nor border closures are the ‘silver bullet’ to end the threat of COVID-19, it’s clear the post-pandemic world will need to continue some of the learnings from the past year and a half.
A useful place to start for businesses is to digitise processes. This allows you to keep a close eye on safety procedures, cleanliness checks, QR check-ins and capacity limits. Digital checklists are a simple way of doing this.
In digital form, such checklists are updated in seconds and instantly deployed to an entire workforce, making COVID-safe protocol easy to follow and quickly identifying any breaches. Having this technology in place is the difference between being at-risk or at the ready.
If your business is consumer facing like retail or hospitality, checklist completion statuses offer public-facing assurances about what steps have been taken to keep a venue safe. Collaborative certifications or reports are useful tools for other workplaces as well, so staff know what’s expected of them each day and can be confident in internal procedures.
The research highlighted how safety policies can’t just be a piece of paper in a drawer. These are living and breathing strategies that need to be clearly communicated and regularly monitored for compliance. In Australia this includes not only sanitisation and distancing measures, but also keeping on top of QR code check-ins to enable contact tracing.
Staff are the eyes and ears of your business. They are often best placed to embed safety procedures into the workplace culture. So, eliminate unnecessary complexity from procedures and break information down into manageable chunks that people will act on. Replace the outdated hefty manuals and day-long compliance courses with short, sharp micro-learning that matches how your people want to consume information.
As we emerge from one of the most disruptive periods in recent history, it’s important to plan for the long term. Embedding these processes into your business will help maintain staff and consumer confidence, ensuring you enter the post-pandemic era safely and with the right tools on hand.