The cost of illness and injury in the United States was already a substantial expense for businesses. The CDC estimated in 2015 that productivity loss due to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion every year – an average of $1,685 per employee. At the same time, many employees would work sick, leading to the spread of illness and further impacts on productivity. 

In the new reality of a post-COVID workplace, these costs are skyrocketing. Instead of someone staying home for 2-3 days with a fever, they could be out for two or more weeks in quarantine. This problem is made worse if employees are unable to attain immediate testing and results, or if contact tracing is limited in the workplace and additional employees may have been exposed without record.

To limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and protect your employees, employees must be immediately sent home if they show symptoms and self-declare. Without in-house testing, this leads to an automatic 14-day quarantine period that can have a massive impact on productivity. 

Measuring the Cost of Increased Sick Leave

According to the BLS, the average private industry employee with sick leave received 7 days per year, increasing only after 20 years of service. Additionally, 29% of workers in industry did not have paid sick benefits before the pandemic. In a post-COVID world, many companies have implemented revised policies to account for the extra time someone will be out of the office if they get sick with COVID-19. Others have implemented sick leave where they didn’t before, and in some states, additional aid is being offered to further expand the benefit. 

This is incredibly important in labor-intensive companies whose employees are in close contact with one another. Even with the added protection of PPE and social distancing protocols, if one person gets sick and isn’t identified, the risk of spread is incredibly high. The cost of productivity from such an outbreak is massive. Already, $1.5 trillion in value has been wiped from labor-intensive companies. This number will only continue to grow if those companies don’t invest in systems to identify and respond to symptoms faster, test employees, and support a quicker return in those who are not positive with COVID-19. 

The ROI of Health Containment Initiatives

Despite averaging close to 800,000 tests per day in July, the United States still lacks ample testing to catch all cases of coronavirus. There are so many different types of tests available and the means by which tests are ordered and administered makes it difficult in many locations to get a test in a timely manner. 

For those with mild symptoms who don’t go to the hospital, test results can take up to a week or longer to be available. CVS Pharmacy reported 6-10 day backlogs and Quest Diagnostics reported a week or longer through the end of July – both numbers have only increased throughout the summer. 

For an employer, this can be immensely costly. If someone shows symptoms and there is a 7-10 day wait to receive test results, every potentially sick employee will miss upwards of two weeks, regardless of whether their test is positive or negative. This means you’ll also need to quarantine those who were in contact with that employee to avoid the potential of the virus spreading if the test is eventually positive. A mild fever can turn into two weeks of lost productivity from multiple employees. 

How In-House Testing Addresses the High Cost of Containment 

With 10% absenteeism, a facility with 1,000 employees could lose six-figures or more every week in productivity. Comprehensive health containment efforts can help by proactively addressing these challenges, providing viable data quickly, and ensuring accurate contact tracing. 

Testing kits that cost $20 per kit allow you to rapidly test and evaluate your workforce if symptoms appear and then only isolate and quarantine those who are potentially positive. The ROI approaches 10x or higher in just one day by being able to react immediately to a self-reported potential case of COVID-19. 

By automating the new normal and implementing testing solutions in-house, supporting employees, and bypassing long lines for testing, your ROI can be 100x or higher without having to worry about the potential of lost revenue if a shutdown is required. 

Getting the Most from Your Containment Efforts

The cost of paid sick leave is putting a tremendous burden on many labor-intensive companies. As the pandemic continues unabated and cases rise in many states, this isn’t likely to change soon. 

As a result, it’s more important than ever to have a proactive plan in place to automate detection, prevention, and monitoring of your workforce to combat the risk of an outbreak. Learn more about how Andonix is helping companies of all sizes do just that with the Safely Pass app, low-cost PPE solutions, and support for testing and monitoring solutions. 

Visit our Business Continuity Resource Center