ASE Survey: Nearly Half of Michigan Employers are Planning for Return to Work

Nearly half (47.3 percent) of Michigan’s employers reported that formal planning and preparations for their return to work were underway, but those plans had not been finalized or documented, according to the latest COVID-19-related survey by Livonia-based ASE, Michigan’s largest employer association.
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ASE graphic
According to an ASE survey, more than half of employers are making plans to return to work. // Image courtesy of ASE

Nearly half (47.3 percent) of Michigan’s employers reported that formal planning and preparations for their return to work were underway, but those plans had not been finalized or documented, according to the latest COVID-19-related survey by Livonia-based ASE, Michigan’s largest employer association.

The current survey, launched on April 21, examines the specific efforts being considered or implemented by employers to protect their workforce in preparation for a return to work.

Nearly a third (32.1 percent) of survey participants consider themselves “very well prepared” to resume normal operations and provide a safe work environment once Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order expires.

“The results of this survey, as well as conversations we have had with our members, clearly show that employers have aggressively shifted their focus toward planning for a return to work,” says Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE. “We are encouraged by the level of collaboration between businesses as we all work towards a goal of getting back to work safely.”

According to the survey, specific preparations that have been implemented or planned include:

  • Nearly 90 percent (89.1 percent) have taken steps or created plans to disinfect work areas prior to any return to work.
  • More than 70 percent (73.3 percent) have created an internal task force or committee to plan, implement, and monitor return-to-work programs.
  • Nearly 80 percent (79.4 percent) have developed plans to address employees who become ill or exhibit COVID-19 symptoms while at work.
  • Nearly 70 percent (68.5 percent) have identified and assigned roles for specific staff who will be involved in the implementation and monitoring of the organization’s pandemic response and/or return to work programs.
  • More than half (54.5 percent) have conducted a formal audit of workplace environment and processes to assess risk factors.
  • More than half of those responding have plans to enhance visitor screening (57 percent) or restrict all but essential visitors into the workplace (53.9 percent).
  • More than half (53.9 percent) plan to conduct temperature screening as employees enter their facility.
  • Nearly half (49.1 percent) have implemented (or plan to implement) formal procedures to identify which workers employees have been in contact with while at work in the event an employee tests positive or exhibits symptoms for COVID-19 (i.e., contact tracing).  More than a third (38.2 percent) are considering that activity.

Communication with employees before and after a return to work will be key.  The data suggests that employers are taking steps to ensure that employees are aware of what a return to work will look like.

Specifically, nearly 80 percent (79.4 percent) are planning to, or seriously considering, distributing communication to employees about self-screening protocols prior to any return to work.  Some 70 percent are considering or have implemented specific communications to employees to address fears and concerns around a return to work. Nearly 60 percent of organizations are considering or have provided training to employees on return-to-work protocols.

Social distancing likely will continue after any return to work. For example, nearly 70 percent will encourage virtual meetings despite any return to work, and more than half (51.5 percent) have plans to reduce seating in collaboration/common areas.

The data suggests that regardless of any discontinuation of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order, it will not be business as usual. More than half (55.2 percent) are planning for a phased return to work where only a certain portion of the employee population will return to the office or worksite. Just slightly more than 10 percent (12.7 percent) will implement a complete return to work, such as what was in place prior to the Stay Home, Stay Safe order.

The majority (87.9 percent) of the respondents have 500 or fewer employees. Metro Detroit businesses represented 76 percent of those responding to the survey.

To review the entire survey report, click here.

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