Governor Gretchen Whitmer has given some Michigan businesses the green light to begin to reopen their operations. But the executive orders require opening businesses to have a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan in place by June 1 or within 2 weeks of opening. These thorough plans account for everything from personnel to PPE. Find out what you need to know, and how a business consultant can help you get ready to reopen.
Michigan Starts the Slow Process of Reopening During COVID-19
The shutdowns in response to the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 have been hard on small businesses across the state. Whether you agreed with the Governor’s decisions to protect public health and safety or not, as a business owner you are probably eager to reopen your business and restore your cash flow. The latest round of executive orders (Nos. 2020-91 and 2020-92) issued on May 18, 2020, provide a guide to how state businesses may begin to open up.
2020-92 extends the state’s existing stay-at-home order through May 28, 2020. However, it also allows for suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, retailers, and even some restaurants and bars to begin working toward reopening. Businesses falling into the permitted categories can designate necessary workers and begin to allow in-person operations. However, to do so businesses need to have a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan in place that meets the requirements of 2020-91 for their particular industry.
Preparing the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan
The Governor’s executive orders require each business that opens to create and distribute a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response plan to its employees by June 1, 2020, or within 2 weeks of reopening. These orders are effective immediately, allowing qualifying businesses to get underway as soon as they can make and implement their plans. But making physical changes to your place of business to accommodate social distancing takes time. Determining what you need may take even longer.
The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch. The Office Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has created guidance for preparing a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce also has templates you can use as a starting point based on your business’s degree of risk. However, any sample plan will still need to be modified based on your industry, your internal procedures, and your physical space.
There are a lot of technical requirements in those plans. They include training, physical changes to the workplace, signage, and new safety and cleaning protocols. Figuring out how to comply with all those requirements may be difficult, especially when your key employees and executive officers are working from home and meeting over video conferences. A business consultant can help you:
- Identify “critical infrastructure workers”
- Reorganize employee responsibilities and schedules to require fewer on-site employees at any one time
- Understand the specific requirements for your industry
- Facilitate planning meetings between your key employees
- Identify employees responsible for monitoring and implementing safety protocol
- Plan employee trainings on the use of protective equipment and cleaning protocol
- Prepare policies and procedures required under the executive orders
- Resolve conflict that arises during the planning process
Responding to Coronavirus Crisis
Unfortunately, preparing a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response plan is almost certainly not going to be a one-time meeting. As your business gets underway, unanticipated complications will arise. A critical infrastructure worker may request accommodations because of a preexisting health vulnerability in their home. A policy that looked good on paper may not execute well in practice. Governor Whitmer may even change the requirements based on medical and scientific advice she is receiving at the state level.
You need to be prepared to respond with flexibility and problem solving. Your business consultant can help you prepare for the complications you can predict and respond to any future challenges that may arise. By getting a consultant involved now, during your initial planning stages, you will reduce the chances that a positive COVID-19 diagnosis will create a crisis for your business in the weeks and months to come.
David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 25 years’ experience helping small business owners respond to conflict and survive crises. Through virtual executive coaching and conflict resolution, David can help CEOs and executives develop a plan to carry their businesses through hard times. Contact us to meet with David and create a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan that protects you, your workers, and your business.