About your organisation
Molson Coors Beverage Company is the custodian of some of the UK’s most loved beer and cider brands, including Carling, Sharp’s, and Aspall Cyder. We employ more than 2,000 people in our breweries, cider house, offices, field sales and customer technical services teams across the UK.
What prompted your decision to implement workplace testing?
Our number one priority throughout the pandemic has been the safety and wellbeing of every employee.
We see workplace testing playing a crucial role for our business – first and foremost as another way to protect the health and wellbeing of our people and to help break the chains of transmission in the communities where we work, and secondly to support business continuity. Taking part in the government pilot earlier this year was a welcome opportunity. Encouraged by the positive reception by our employees, we are currently offering a weekly lateral flow test (LFT) at our Burton Brewery and Aspall Cyder House and aim to roll it out further across our business.
How did your workplace testing journey begin?
In early December 2020, we were approached by Staffordshire County Council, asking if Molson Coors would be a partner in a workplace testing national government pilot that was specifically aimed at identifying people who had no COVID-19 symptoms but were unknowingly infectious.
We had already begun using LFTs on a small scale to support our people who were unable to attend NHS COVID-19 test centres and the pilot was a great opportunity to roll out these tests further. We set up a project team to implement testing, initially on a weekly basis, for all employees and contractors at our Burton Brewery and looked to see how we could introduce it at our other operational sites.
The Burton testing site was up and running in the third week of January and we also began workplace testing at our Aspall Cyder House shortly afterwards.
As Molson Coors was part of the Staffordshire pilot, we received test kits free of charge, but initially procured kits for Aspall Cyder House through our existing supplier.
Talk us through your process for adopting workplace testing
Training and consent
From the outset, we wanted employees to understand fully what workplace testing was and how they could take part. It was also important to gain employees’ consent. We recognised that people might be unsure or even anxious about taking part and felt we had to provide a way for people to explore the process ahead of booking a test.
The first step was to introduce a 15-minute virtual training module, which was built into our main learning space on the company intranet. The training walks people through all the information they need to know, from what would happen when they visited the test site to how to take a COVID swab. It also covered what the follow-up procedures would be and included imagery of the test station so people could familiarise with the environment.
At the end of the training, people were asked to consent to being part of the testing programme, to agree to the company informing Test and Trace of their result and informing their line manager if the test result was positive.
If an employee tests positive the employee is asked to leave site immediately and go straight home to begin isolation for 10 days in line with national policy and local standard operating procedures, with any other close contacts and household members. They will also receive an email/text from the Test & Trace system to the device they registered against their account informing them of the steps they must take. The testing team informs the employee’s line manager of the result and steps are taken to identify any close contacts and also any support the employee may need while isolating.
Volunteers for test site
We needed to recruit and train a team of volunteers to run the site and were delighted that over 20 employees came forward.
Training included in person instruction from Staffordshire Community Health Team in the clinical procedures needed to keep themselves safe and the group were familiarised with the test site location and process, enabling volunteers to try each of the necessary roles. We also asked the volunteers to build their knowledge using the NHS training portal to give them an understanding of the testing process, the roles on site and how to protect themselves, including:
- LFT process training
- LFT results recording training
- Infections prevention and control and PPE
- How to give guidance on self-swabbing.
Because colleagues would be handling people’s personal information, they were also asked to complete a confidentiality agreement.
Since the very start of this pandemic, we have put our people first, prioritising their health and wellbeing. We’ve implemented more than 35 COVID-secure measures in our sites and rolling out asymptomatic testing is another way we’re protecting our people and their families, helping to break the chains of transmission in our local communities. We welcome the government’s national workplace testing scheme and see this playing an important role for our business as the economy begins to re-open. In line with the increased availability of lateral flow tests, we are rolling out testing further across our business as more of our business comes back online with the phased re-opening of hospitality.— Adam Firby, HR Director, Molson Coors
Booking a test slot
Employees working at our operational sites work shifts, so we had to make it easy for them to book a test. We created an online area with a booking calendar that enabled them to add their name and encouraged people to book as early as they could in their working shift.
What the testing involved
We undertook a detailed risk assessment for the test station to identify the controls required based on the clinical guidance we had received. We provided clear instructions and directions at the testing site, so people knew what to expect. It also enabled us to safely manage the flow of people visiting. Measures included:
- Arrangement of a one-way system for participants
- Signposting to where people register and collect a bar code for their test
- Signposting to testing booths, where people privately take the swab sample
- Posters in the test booth itself, showing how to clean it after use
- Instructions showing where and how to take swab samples to a test site volunteer
- How to leave the site safely when they head back to work.
How did you communicate your workplace testing plans with your staff and what was the response?
We have been in regular contact with our employees about coronavirus, detailing safety measures and issues such as how government guidelines and laws impacting our business. The primary aims in all our communications has been to be as transparent as we can, take people with us on the journey and open to feedback, which was particularly important when it came to introducing workplace testing,
which is why we talked to employees early on in the process, so they knew this was something we were looking to introduce. We also engaged with Unite and our Employee Forum, which were both fully supportive of introducing workplace testing.
When we were ready to launch the test site, we used a number of communication methods to build awareness and understanding:
- Involving site leadership in the pilot, which helped them to understand the process so they could feed back to their teams
- An all-employee email from the general manager, which explained why we were doing workplace testing and what people needed to do to take part
- Creating a briefing deck that could be easily used to inform all stakeholders about the initiative
- Briefings at the start of each new shift, ensuring we engaged with every employee when they returned to work after the test site opened
- Informing our non-operational senior leadership group so they could answer any questions from interested members of their teams
- Engaging with suppliers to make them aware and work with them to arrange contractor testing
- An article in our business-wide weekly update and reinforcement on the managing director’s monthly all company business call
- We continue to make regular updates at our operational sites, including sharing any frequently asked questions.
Being early adopters of the scheme and being part of the government pilot did bring many questions from employees, such as the accuracy of the test and logistical details of how to take a test, which we answered clearly and honestly and have received positive feedback.
What has the result been?
We now have two workplace testing sites up and running and have quickly learned a lot about the process. It has provided us with another opportunity to add to our armoury when it comes to keeping employees and contractors as safe as possible on our sites and will set us up for success as we ramp up production when our hospitality and pub customers start to open again. To date, we’ve administered more than 1,500 tests at our workplace testing sites and for many employees it is now part of their working routine to get tested.
What are top tips you would give to businesses currently on the fence about workplace testing?
- Follow the clinical and government guidance closely at all times. Involve your occupational health and safety teams to ensure the testing team and those being tested are kept safe
- There is a lot of work involved in implementing your own workplace testing centre, so it is a good idea to establish a project team to work together on it
- Keep the testing process as simple as you can. This will encourage people to get tested and will help to remove any barriers
- Make sure you get your employees engaged in the process from the start and keep communicating. Listen to your employees and get as much feedback as you can
- Follow up on your commitments and make sure your employees and contractors are well looked after if they test positive and provide all the support you can.