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Business Realities in a Covid-19 World

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Any business, even those like Home depot, Target, Lowes, Walmart, and others, face a real challenge when it comes to staffing their stores. This applies to even stores that are mom and pop variety.

The central issue for all is how do you keep adequate staffing to provide customer service under a Covid-19 policy? It is a real challenge for many due to the virus' impact, but some HR policies actually can aggravate the Covid-19 impact and make it more dangerous for their employees and customers.

Many of the big box stores have a policy that you must wear a mask when entering the store and employees must wear it at all times, except in the break room. Most of the stores do not enforce the mask rule if you enter without a mask or remove it while in the store (Home depot, is one example). Nothing will happen if you enter without a mask in fear of losing a customer. At Costco, they do enforce the rules and customers are escorted out if they refuse to wear a mask while shopping.

As for employees, at Home Depot, their policy is one that is actually bad. If an employee feels sick, they are asked to get tested. If the result is positive for Covid, they must stay home for 14 days. However, none of the other employees within that same department are asked to get tested. After the employee who is positive has been away for 14 days, they are allowed to return to work without being retested and showing a negative result! Meaning, it is presumed the person is no longer positive. This is a bad policy because we know a person can be positive again (and this has happened) or the virus may not 100% be gone and might be able to spread it among others. We also know that wearing masks reduces the chance of getting the virus by 50%, meaning there is still a decent chance one can get exposed again even if customer and employee are wearing masks.

The better policy would be if one person is positive within a department of a big box store, everyone should be tested in that department and for those who are positive, after waiting 14 days, be tested again and allowed to return to work if negative,

The reason why many do not have this policy is staffing. If, several employees are out, the burden to cover them within a department can be difficult. Customer service will be poor and reduce sales. It's all about money and the bottom line and not about caring for employees.

So, not testing everyone in the department and not requiring those returning to be negative, just helps spread the virus within the store.


perrya (author) on December 20, 2020:

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In our small town of Venice, FL. (20,000), according to the state virus website, it has 2200 positive cases, or 10% of the population. In sarasota, just 15 minutes north, (60,000) there have been 450 deaths from covid. In the county, the population is 400,000 with a total of 17,000 positive cases or 4% of population. New York City had got to 4-5% when they shutdown. yet everything is open still....crazy nothing is being down whatsoever.

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on December 20, 2020:

May not apply to the US, but here in Europe we still have the choice of buying from large chains or from local small business. Having said this, we have changed our buying behavior. We buy from local business only now to support their economic well being. The big chains will get over the pandemic more easily.

I am a little puzzled that there is any discussion going on about mask wearing and distancing. It helps to get infections down, it is not a political stance.

In every western country the ability to trace and hunt infection contacts has failed, at least with the beginning of the second wave in Europe. There are simply too many cases to keep tracing effective. The more important it is to do tracing and quarantining on a private or corporate level. Apparently Home depot doesn´t do so. Interesting observation.

DW Davis from Eastern NC on December 19, 2020:

We have stopped shopping at the grocery store closest to us. They refuse to enforce any masking or their own one-way-aisle policy. Trumpers, of which there are many in that small town where few of the residents are educated past high school and even fewer have ever traveled more than 100 miles from home, cough and hack their way through the store maskless and glare at you if you do wear a mask.

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