New workforce management tool to help employers support staff health and wellbeing
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business owners to truly understand the importance of employee health and wellbeing; just one employee contracting the coronavirus could spell disaster for many businesses.
And while instructing employees to work from home allows companies to mitigate the threat of an outbreak at the office, the mental health implications of isolation are far-reaching and sometimes invisible.
After Melbourne re-entered a state of Stage 3 lockdown earlier this month, it's clear that the pandemic and its impacts on employee physical and mental health are far from over.
However, a new workforce management tool called CoHealth, dreamt up in 2019 by the team behind Black Wolf Consulting and launched earlier this year, has been designed for situations just like this.
The software allows management to monitor the physical and mental health of individuals and teams with sophisticated levels of detail.
While the platform is particularly useful during this COVID-19 pandemic, CoHealth also tracks employee mental wellbeing, interpersonal relationships and signs of domestic violence at home.
According to Gold Coast-based Black Wolf Consulting co-founder and CoHealth general manager Tanya Abbey (pictured), there are essentially two components to CoHealth: 'health & safety' and 'engagement & wellbeing'.
The first element, 'health & safety', is particularly important for businesses managing the risks of COVID-19; especially those with employees that cannot work from home.
To demonstrate how CoHealth would activate and mitigate a COVID-19 scare Abbey gives the example of a mining company with fly-in fly-out workers.
If one employee were to test positive, or displayed symptoms, the CoHealth app would alert the team's manager and essentially perform an instant contact trace.
From there, team managers can direct other team members to isolate and redeploy a healthy team of workers with the touch of a button.
"For example, if you had already travelled on the plane, sat next to Larry, got on 'bus C', went to 'crew four' and stayed in dorm room 20, I would already know who you've interacted with," says Abbey.
"But it's very proactive, so it allows me as the employer to make the decision there with that immediate notification, as opposed to you already infecting a whole plane and then making it worse and having to shut down the mine site."
Though the platform has plenty of application during this pandemic, it was initially designed to manage employee wellbeing, according to Abbey.
"From my 12 years within the recruitment space, mental well-being and the type of work culture staff are exposed to are crucial to performance and also how likely they are to remain in a role," says Abbey.
"CoHealth presents a holistic approach to engaging with staff and ensuring they are not only safe and well, but ultimately happy in their work".
This element is particularly important when considering the mental health implications associated with social isolation.
"The other element that's really important is employee wellbeing. It's difficult to know when someone is struggling with mental health issues, and in a work environment usually, we find out and it's a reactive response," says Abbey.
"Even with something like domestic violence the response is reactive because maybe the employer hasn't asked the right questions, or maybe a staff member doesn't feel comfortable talking to the employer."
"But the reporting tool allows us to ask bespoke questions like 'how are you feeling this morning?', 'are you dressed for success?', 'who's at home with you?', so we can go back and look at the data and see, well, this employee was incredibly stressed for the three days their partner was home, which allows us to start having that conversation."
While CoHealth presents itself as a workforce management tool, it is certainly not just for large organisations; the platform is completely scalable and designed to foster relationships with staff allowing managers and HR to be proactive to employee wellbeing, not just reactive.
Abbey has already found success in the United States with CoHealth, but great progress is being made to ensure Australian companies cotton on to the benefits of the platform.
"I'm really hoping that Australia takes note of what the US is doing with CoHealth," says Abbey.
"My biggest fear is that Australians are really reactive and becoming a little bit too reactive. I hope Australian companies see the benefit of having CoHealth workforce management as part of their company because it's a scary future that we're looking into if we're not supporting the people that are still working right now."