CEOs learn how to protect, help employees getting back to work

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As Michigan anticipates getting back to work, West Michigan businesses leaders got together Monday to talk strategy.

Members of the West Michigan Policy Forum held a web chat, part of ongoing discussions by local CEOs about how to restart businesses.

Much of the discussion was about workplace safety. Among those offering ideas was Autocam Medical owner John Kennedy.

“We assume somebody that somebody in the plant has COVID every day,” Kennedy, whose Kentwood company has remained open, told the forum.

So each employee receives a daily wellness check, including getting their temperature taken, before they go to work. Workers are also issued masks and told to stay home even if they have just the sniffles. Social distancing measures are in effect, including limiting chairs at break room tables to one and making sure those tables are spread apart.

Employers also learned how to help their workers deal with the mental health challenges they will face when they return to their jobs.

“Many of your employees who are going to be coming back to work have really experienced some life-altering, traumatic events,” Dr. Mark Eastburg, CEO Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, said. “…If you have an employee assistance program, now is the time to connect with the leaders of that program. Develop a communications strategy for how you’re going to remind your employees that benefit is there, you’ve been paying for it, take advantage of it.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and 26 hospitals statewide are conducting a patient registry survey on how the current situation could prepare employers for a second wave of coronavirus infections.

“It’s really important statewide as we understand what this COVID is and where it’s distinguished, not just on a statewide basis, but a regional basis,” BCBS President Jeff Connolly said of the patient registry. “We think that it’s going to be one of the largest in the nation and it will be used when and if we see a second wave on this. We’ll know a lot more on how to treat it and what to do from a business perspective, depending on where your business is located.”

The West Michigan Policy Forum has posted the entire discussion on its website.