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Preparing Employees for COVID Outside of Work

Posted by Tom Barczak on Jun 4, 2020 5:23:32 PM

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Fourstar’s Extended Family Approach Helps Build Trust and Ease Fears

Now that many states are reopening cautiously for business, those of us that have been fortunate enough to remain open can share some of the things that we learned during the heat of the pandemic.Preparing Employees for Work During COVID

As an interconnect trusted advisor in the electronic manufacturing services industry, we are deemed an essential business supporting medical and military customers. Fourstar Connections has remained open—we’ve been able to satisfy customers while protecting our employees—while not missing a beat.  Okay, we never missed a beat, but that does not mean we weren’t paddling furiously beneath the water to keep the operation running! It felt like trial-by-fire to stay safe from an unseen encroacher; surely, it created a world we were not used to.

As the COVID-19 virus took hold of bodies and minds, we had to find that better way we offer to our customers and apply it to this situation. We knew early on that just following the usual protocols to protect our factory and “Stop the Spread/Flatten the Curve” would not be enough. Our operations team widened these new ideas and protection methods further to include employee wellbeing while off the job—helping them and their extended families, in some cases, stay (and feel) safe while out and about the world.

Here are the phases we went through to get there. 

  • Reaction: As the pandemic and federal, state, and local guidance evolved, we were quick to act on getting additional supplies, such as masks, anti-bacterial/viral wipes, additional hand sanitizer to the numerous wall-mounted units, nitrile gloves, and face shields. We then deployed these and started reactionary cleaning, social distancing, and enforcement (while this sounds tough, it is necessary and is appreciated from employees, as we’ve found that people can get comfortable with the people they know and lapse into familiar behavior).
  • Reflection: The reaction phase allowed us to establish a baseline safety perimeter at our factory, but the reflection phase allowed us to take it further. We thought about what happens before and after our employees are in the building? Do they have all they need to be protected before they get to work? How does potentially not having the right resources at home impact them at work? What about people who they come in contact with? Are we able to push supplies out to our employees in order to make them safe? Think about multiple levees protecting a town from rising river water as a simplistic example. It you have only one, and it fails …
  • Action: Having time to reflect after safeguards were in place allowed us act on what we learned:
    • We increased communication with our employees one to two times a week to all talk and share ideas. One thing we learned is that we had to meet hard questions openly and honestly. Sometimes people just want to vent their frustration, and you need to allow that process to take place with questions, such as: When will this end? Are we sure we will not get hit by this? What if one of us gets sick? Will we still have jobs? Tough questions, especially since the first two are unknown, but the more we do to be safe, the better off we are.
    • We started by asking if our employees could use some nitrile gloves to take home, and the answer was a big yes; so we give out gloves as we are able to. In addition:
      • We had donations of masks that we gave to the employees for home use. The hope was that they and family would use them immediately when going to buy food and other supplies.
      • We then gave out hand-sanitizing wipes, because if they have a mask and go to the store, how do they disinfect their hands after they get into the car? What about the cars handles, knobs, and steering wheel? Giving these out just made sense, and the employees appreciated them.
      • We shared some of our food-grade sanitizer/disinfectant we procured to use in our daily cleaning regimen. It was enough for each employee to make a gallon of disinfectant to use at home and share with other family members. We labeled containers with instructions and pointed to MSDS sheets for use and dwell time.
    • Sustain: The goal for us as we ease back into a bigger reopening of the economy, is to work to continue both internal and external protection as applicable to the situation. We know that deploying our safety precautions and materials to our employees for home use can only make them and the company safer. I think that says a lot about our relationship with our employees and our trust in each other. We all want to go home at the end of the day to our families and friends and enjoy life as safely as possible.

Finding a Better Way

True to our vision of finding a better way, we feel we’re accomplishing that in the face of unchartered territory. We hope this helps you figure out how best to proceed with your operations to keep working without missing a beat. If there is anything Fourstar can help you with, contact us. We’re here for you—masks on, hands clean, and ready to go.

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Topics: Interconnect Solutions, Electronic Manufacturing Service Provider, Preparing Employees During COVID-19

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Finding a Better Way

Fourstar partners with leading companies to problem solve, innovate, and find better ways for New Product Introduction (NPI) and Design for Manufacturing (DFM) initiatives.

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