The Covid-19 story is still not over. Yesterday, Malaysia reported 33,209 new cases, with a 7-day average of more than 27,000. The virus is very much still with us. The best way to keep the virus at bay is to not catch it in the first place. The problem is that we are not always in control of the situation we walk into, e.g.
1. I showed up to the client’s place to conduct training and one of the participants was clearly not well. He said he tested the day before and the result was negative. However, he could still be spreading another type of influenza. His employer did not ask him to show proof of his test.
2. My friend, who is also a trainer, was conducting his class when mid-day, one of the participants decided to declare himself as Covid-19 positive! As a result, the entire training crew (and possibly the client’s team) are now in self-quarantine. There’s lots of anxiety and frustration because they have young children at home.
Sometimes, it is the trainer who is not disciplined for fear of losing his/her contract. Self-regulation doesn’t seem to be working well and enforcement has been relaxed. (I can remember the days when people are fined for doing this.)
The health risks are obvious.
What about the business or financial risks?
For the clients, the company’s productivity is affected when team members are exposed or the office has to be closed for sanitisation.
For the training providers, there is a potential financial loss for organising in-person training at commercial venues like hotels. A last-minute cancellation due to a positive or close-contact case may see your deposit with the hotel being forfeited. I was a close-contact case last week but thankfully was not infected, and I did not have any in-person sessions. I can only imagine the chaotic situation if I had to cancel training in the last minute.
Who is responsible, accountable and liable for all these risks?
Trainers are caught in an catch-22 situation. Some of us are cannot get training contracts when we prefer to deliver on-line; or customers are cancelling the in-person training contracts due to the high number of cases but do not want to to go on-line. Each cancellation comes with the loss of income for the days we are supposed to be doing training.
This roller-coaster ride will continue.
In the last 2 years, we have been a roller-coaster ride with full and partial lock-downs being imposed every now and then. Moving forward, while the standard operating procedures have been relaxed, the wave will go up and down. Although there may no longer be any lock-downs. This will leave us with very a lot of uncertainty. We cannot make plans further than 2 weeks ahead.
In summary, these are the problems we are facing:
- The standard operating procedures are friendly for the economy, but not for our health
- The lines are fuzzy as to who is responsible and accountable to protect customers and trainers from cross-infection.
- The industry does not have a standard policy to manage financial risks.
- The industry does not have a standard way to manage cancellations that protect the customers, training providers, and trainers.
It’s time to make have some conversations about this.
I don’t profess to have solutions. But I look forward to more conversations to seek for industry-wide solutions. Questions we can start asking are:
- What should the trainer do if a participants is showing symptoms without risking losing his contract or being penalised?
- Should the training industry have our own SOP?
- What can the customer and/or trainer do when there is a last-minute cancellation due to a positive case ? or should this be replaced with online training?
- Which party is responsible to conduct the tests and when should be tests be taken?
- Should online training be the first choice when a close-contact/positive case is detected?
- Should we promote Online First?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
About the Author: Gina Phan is a consultant and trainer with Zinfinity Consulting. She currently conducts courses in workplace performance skills. Click here to know more about her.
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