JBS Foods Vaccinates Thousands of Frontline Employees with Innovative COVID-19 Training Program
Across America, employers have been grappling with how to persuade workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Some are even requiring it as a condition of work. JBS Foods, one of the largest food producers in the United States, is meeting this challenge head-on with an employee training and education program that has so far put shots in the arms of more than 38,000 employees.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, JBS Foods has invested more than $600 million in health and safety measures to protect its workforce from COVID-19 and help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in surrounding communities.
These safety measures include extensive testing and a multi-lingual, multi-cultural education program that incorporates Alchemy Player and Alchemy Coach, two training options from Intertek Alchemy. The training program helps teach basic hygiene methods, identify symptoms, and understand the safety, efficacy, and importance of receiving the vaccine.
Now with 75% of its U.S. workforce vaccinated, JBS Foods is enjoying lower employee absenteeism from COVID-related illnesses and quarantines and is playing a significant role in promoting health practices and vaccine awareness to its employees, families, and friends.
The company provides employees with paid time off from work to be vaccinated, offers onsite clinics, and covers 100% of any COVID-19 health expense. To sweeten the deal, JBS Foods throws in a $100 bonus for any employee who receives the vaccine.
But for any of these measures to achieve success, JBS Foods had to first encourage employee participation through education and awareness.
“We found out pretty quickly that the most efficient, effective way to ensure that our team members actually signed up and took the vaccine was to survey our workforce and understand who was inclined to take the vaccine, who was undecided, and who was against it,” said JBS Foods Vice President of Human Resources Chris Gaddis. “We never mandated it, but instead worked to educate employees who were neutral and those who were opposed to the vaccine.”
Gaddis and his team created onsite vaccination clinics during workdays for medical professionals to administer the vaccine and counsel those who were hesitant. By providing the education and accurate information, JBS has persuaded nearly 40% of reluctant employees to be vaccinated so far.
Much of that success hinges on delivering information in six languages – English, Spanish, French, Burmese, Somali, and Arabic – and the ability to educate employees leading up to those clinic appointments. The Intertek Alchemy training platform plays a key role.
“We initially leveraged Intertek Alchemy to develop and send training to everyone,” Gaddis said. “And then we were able to track the uptake of that training, which we continued to use during our clinical meetings with medical professionals.”
Leading up to the clinic appointments, JBS Foods used Alchemy training to educate team members about the coronavirus and precaution measures to help identify and prevent its spread at company sites and home. This included tips on social distancing, cleaning surfaces, avoiding shared eating utensils, and other personal hygiene practices.
“We leveraged Alchemy extensively in terms of teaching our team members, many of whom are not of American origin, about the basics of staying healthy,” he said. “Many of our employees are refugees and are first- or second-generation Americans. So, their norms around gatherings and meals might be different from what we’re used to here. Alchemy helped us teach them the importance of things like washing your hands thoroughly, sneezing into your elbow, and how to use hand sanitizers properly.”
Intertek Alchemy solutions helped train team members to diagnose COVID symptoms and how to seek testing. If an employee was diagnosed with the virus, they received paid time off to recover. Plant managers use Alchemy Coach to audit mask adherence, ensuring employees wear them properly and issuing replacements if they become moist or wet.
Gaddis said employees take lessons from their training back home to share with family and friends. In this manner, JBS’ vaccination program made a significant impact for hard-to-reach immigrant communities.
“If we have good training in a native language in our facility, that training will be spread to someone at home,” he said. “And so, if somebody learns that you sneeze in your elbow, then their family and friends will learn to do likewise. We feel like proper training of our team members with Intertek Alchemy not only improved the conditions in our plants, but it’s had a more profound effect on the surrounding communities.”
Gaddis said the company will carry forward many of the lessons they and their employees have learned from its education and training programs. Many procedures and workplace safety habits will remain long after the pandemic is over, enabling them to keep employees safe from common health threats like the flu and other viruses. And to be prepared for the next big health event if one should occur.