How the pandemic changed HR jobs

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For George Boué, who led human resources at Stiles, a commercial real estate company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, worries about his job began to grow that fall. At 3 a.m. he kept waking up and his mind racing with questions. How should he mandate a vaccination to his colleagues who viewed this as interference? More importantly, how should he protect everyone in his office?

Mr Boué, who is fully vaccinated, was surrounded by friends in South Florida who alleged misinformation about the vaccine. He estimates that a third of his 300 employees are most likely not fully vaccinated. When the Department of Labor introduced its vaccination policy in November, which required large companies to vaccinate or have their workers tested weekly, Mr Boué began working out the terms of his company’s vaccination policy; then he put it on hold due to legal disputes over mandates, particularly in Florida. Mr Boué decided that among his teammates he would not call the policy a mandate because he wanted to ease tension whenever he could.

“There are those who feel like the world is going to end, and that’s terrible, and those on the other side of the spectrum who think this is all a bunch of nonsense,” he said. “The hardest part of my role was trying to get everyone involved.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, his responsibility has become increasingly thorny: In the first few months, his team had to order liters of disinfectant and hundreds of masks. Last summer they had to start enforcing the mask requirement in the office for unvaccinated employees, although his team did not require proof of vaccination for this rule and instead looked at the “trust factor”.

Some executives outsource Covid security work to companies that set up turnkey vaccine and test systems. DocGo, for example, a health and technology company, creates test programs for companies and monitors compliance with employee confidentiality, data protection and compliance with federal government standards.

Still, DocGo’s president Anthony Capone said he hears regularly from human resources managers, especially those who fear their unvaccinated employees will struggle to get Covid tests, which could mean employers are violating government guidelines.

HR experts said they try to draw attention to government regulations wherever possible and emphasize employees that they are simply following advice from health officials.


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