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Coronavirus: How to Keep Medical Sales Reps Safe and Calm

We’re all too familiar with the December 2019 emergence of the coronavirus disease in Wuhan City that rapidly spread throughout China.  The fast-paced movement of the disease has created panic throughout the world. 

The CDC quickly took safety measures at airports to decrease the number of cases coming into the United States. Yet, a few cases have recently been confirmed states-side, adding to the spreading concern for potential transmission of the disease. 

What researchers recently discovered, however, is that coronavirus has the same risks as many other common viruses, such as influenza. Professionals in healthcare facilities understand the risks, realities, and precautions to take during this type of outbreak. 

But the elevated attention surrounding the issue could be causing others spending time at hospitals and clinics, like your medical sales team, to panic. Like with any disease, awareness, prevention, and support are the key to keeping employees safe. 

Here’s how you can help your team remain calm, safe, and productive during the coronavirus scare: 

Keeping your team calm 

Knowledge is power in anything, especially when fear and panic are involved. Attorney Bob Nichols, who counseled clients through the SARS virus in 2003 and the H1N1 virus of 2009, said in a recent Human Resources Executive interview that misinformation about coronavirus might be a bigger threat in the U.S. than the virus itself. 

“The common flu, which is worse this year than most, is a much more significant threat to U.S. workers than the coronavirus,” Nichols shared. “The most important thing [leaders] can do is to maintain that perspective and guard against over-reaction.”

Help your team remain calm by offering accurate information in a sea of media. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration update their fact-based sites regarding the coronavirus daily. Sharing these updates with your team will decrease overreactions caused by hearsay or click-bait sites. 

Keeping your team safe

What the CDC and disease-focused researchers have confirmed so far is that the coronavirus is transmitted similarly to annual influenza and other cold viruses. Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues with keeping transmittable illnesses at bay is that people are contagious before symptoms present themselves. 

As a result, medical sales reps should take similar prevention measures:

  • Frequent hand washing, including before and after visiting a customer
  • Refraining from touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Respectfully declining handshakes
  • Staying home when sick

Another problem adding to the spread of contagious illnesses are dedicated (and stubborn) employees. Many well-meaning reps may feel the need to push through their symptoms and come to work. They could fear projects piling up while they’re away or retribution for missing too many days. 

As a leader, it’s critical to communicate clear expectations. Let your team know their safety and that of co-workers and clients is more important than time-off policies. 

For your on-the-go reps, provide travel-size packs of sanitized wipes to help them keep bags, steering wheels, phones, and other items clean while on the road. Of course, for reps working the office, place sanitization wipes in common areas, such as the copy room, break room, cafeteria, and in offices to encourage employees to wipe-down frequently touched surfaces. 

Keeping your team productive

While your main priority is to keep your medical sales reps safe, you also must keep business moving forward. Encourage your team to work-from-home when they can. When they’re answering emails, making phone calls, and catching up on paperwork, there’s no reason to come into the office. Work-from-home policies help reps remain productive and decrease the number of sick employees making their way into the office. 

Of course, the office isn’t medical sales reps’ only, or even main concern when there’s a viral epidemic. Keep in contact with customers and their healthcare facilities to remain aware of any confirmed cases. Simply making your team aware that you have a system in place to be alerted, and alert them, if their customers’ facilities have coronavirus present, will go a long way in helping reps stay at ease. 

Additionally, review/offer reps easy access to virtual meetings with customers. Provide easy-to-use software that allows both voice and video conferencing to help your team keep up-to-date in real-time with customers.  

When needed, let your medical sales reps know you’re available to join the conversation and discuss how they can meet customers’ needs without feeling they’re being put at risk. 


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