Back to Work, Not Back to Normal

Posted by Adam Hoffarber on 5/1/20 11:00 AM
Adam Hoffarber
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Preparing Your Business for a Mid-Pandemic Return

On April 30th, Governor Walz extended the state’s “Stay at Home” order for many of us until May 18, 2020. At the same time, he lifted some restrictions on Minnesota retailers, allowing them to re-open as they can provide delivery or curbside pickup.

It’s a move already being met with mixed reviews – and plenty of mixed feelings. That’s understandable. It is painful to see so many Minnesota businesses that were, until a few short weeks ago, vibrant and thriving, now stand idle as we wait for the coronavirus to move through the state without causing mass fatalities. By now, we’re all familiar with the importance of “flattening the curve.” And by now, we wish that our state’s COVID-19 curve was on the descent.

Reopening after covid checklist

When that day comes, how ready will your business be?

Readiness, according to today’s press conference, will require that you have a written Employer Preparedness Plan, meeting basic requirements as outlined by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), in templates you can find here. The template is helpful and important. But it only touches on the mechanics of on-site safety and hygiene precautions. For most of us, bigger challenges still loom ahead.

Welcome to the next, unprecedented phase of getting back to business.

Once we all can re-open our doors, what is the best way to go about it? In a chicken-and-egg guessing game, how can you determine the number of employees to bring back – when you don’t yet know how long it will take for your customers to come back? So far, there is precious little data or other evidence cluing us in on customer willingness to return to their old purchasing habits.

Even if you’re gung-ho to swing the doors wide open and bring your employees back, the truth is, some (an unknown number of them) may be justifiably afraid to re-enter workplaces or public spaces until testing, treatments, and vaccines are further along. Others may be willing – even desperate – to regain full employment but unable to do so because other aspects of the state’s guidelines make leaving home impossible. Your employees with young children or other vulnerable dependents at home are unlikely to have care givers available to step in if they go back to work.

As Governor Walz pointed out, re-opening the state will be a careful process of “turning the dial,” not flipping a switch. In other words, we are all climbing a steep learning curve together. The lessons we learn over the next several weeks may get tested, revisited and revised many times. For northern states like ours, where colder winters are likely to foster resurgences of the virus, it’s possible that we may go through phases of dialing up and dialing down, until a vaccine is widely available.

Revisiting and revising your staffing plans is no longer a once-a-year exercise. For now, at least, it is a delicate balance, likely to need adjusting multiple times over the coming months. As you evaluate your team, your current bench strength, and your upcoming needs, Skywater Search Partners is your partner, ready to listen, offer insights, and be of help. We’re in this for the long haul.



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