This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Welcome to the Newsroom: News Stories

Practical Responses to COVID-19: 3/20/2020 Summary

Monday, March 23, 2020  
Posted by: JoAnna Leon

Highlights of ways your industry peers are minimizing contamination while addressing employee and customer concerns

The COVID-19 global pandemic is like nothing the modern world — and today’s supply chains — have faced before. Yet, even as they face of the unknown, your WERC peers are doing what they do best: developing solutions to unforeseen challenges in a changing environment.

On Friday, March 20, a panel of industry insiders participated in a WERC webinar to share what they’ve been doing to maintain operations, as well as to protect and communicate with employees and customers. Here are some of the highlights across a range of topics, including people and labor management; customer assurance; communications; and safety measures.


  • Jeremy Banta, Program Coordinator - Supply Chain Management, Columbus State Community College


  • Graciela Cruz, Director of Global Planning, Amway
  • Brian Devine, Senior Vice President, EmployBridge
  • Deb Parmé, Vice President, Global Supply Chain Planning, Amway
  • Megan Smith, CEO, Symbia Logistics
  • Greg Younghans, President, Reliable Management Solutions


To start the session, Brian Devine shared three slides detailing up-to-the-minute insights from a survey conducted on March 19, 2020 of more than 10,000 EmployBridge associates:

1.     Are your work hours being affected by COVID-19?

No – 53% (6,352 responses)

Decreasing – 38% (4,544 responses)

Increasing – 10% (1,173 responses)

2.     Has your workplace taken additional precautions to decrease risks associated with COVID-19?

Yes – 73% (8,333 responses)

No – 27% (3,102 responses) – Brian interprets this as those precautions are taking place behind the scenes and not being well communicated to associates.

3.     On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), how concerned are you about COVID-19? (10,408 total responses)

7-10 – 7,021 responses

4-6 – 1,909 responses

1-3 – 1,478 responses

4.     What are you most concerned about right now? (10,262 total responses)

Top three concerns:

Your job/income – 4,418 responses

Your family’s health – 2,982 responses

Your health – 1,682 responses

The following measures are currently being implemented by panelists.

Employee / Customer Communication

  • Frequent employee communication via text, email, internal messaging systems
  • Creating a daily e-newsletter (also posted to website as a blog) from the CEO sent out at the same time each day with the latest updates, targeted to both employees and customers

Facilities and Labor Management

  • Limiting visitors to all facilities to just essential vendors needed to support ongoing business; Suspended truck driver entrance into facility, meeting them outside to minimize contact
  • Reinforcing social distancing by rearranging workspaces to keep stations at least 6 feet apart, putting more time between shifts to limit interaction during changeovers, and staggering break times to limit the number of people congregating in the same area
  • Suspending shift start-up group meetings; Providing work assignments as individuals come in; More on one-on-one communication with supervisors and leaders in operations
  • For families that lack childcare, considering creating alternate shifts (overnight) to allow parents to be home with kids during the day
  • Non-essential employees mandated to work at home
  • Employees deemed essential to operations being paid time-and-a-half for coming into work; If they are unable to come in to work due to illness or childcare, they are still being paid full-time wages (this has done wonders for morale)
  • Self-certify your employees as essential by using a document prepared by IWLA; Distribute on company letterhead and signed by a company official to all essential employees to carry with them (in glove box) in case they are stopped by authorities on way to or from work in states where shelter-in-place orders are in effect

Hiring Procedures

  • Hiring/new hire orientation – some operations have suspended hiring for now; Operations that must hire/train new employees are minimizing groups to 10 people or fewer
  •  Moving application process to online
  • Temporary suspension of drug screening and criminal background checks to limit potential exposure
  • Implement video-based interviewing
  • Consider an alternative workforce if you are short staffed; Many teachers, students, and hospitality industry staffers are out of school and/or work at the moment and might be a good resource

Cleaning Procedures

  • Making hand sanitizer and wipes available to staffers
  • Working with customers/suppliers to keep personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer and wipes in stock; manufacturing on site if possible
  • Explaining to employees why they need to use cleaning supplies, establishing cleaning protocols and demonstrating how they should be followed
  • Requiring wipe downs/sanitation of shared equipment at start/end of shifts, breaks, etc.
  •  Increased frequency of cleaning across all common areas — restrooms, breakrooms, areas outside break areas — anywhere people are generally congregating gets an increased amount of cleaning

Crisis Planning

  • If a business did not have a plan before, develop a strategy for how to manage a government required facility closure and suspension of service; Consider what to do before, during, and after the suspension
  • Create a phone tree of current employees and customers; Make sure customer info is up-to-date
  • If unable to ship/deliver product to customers in an area that has been closed, take the order and inform the customer they will receive it as soon as restrictions have been lifted
  • Have a protocol in place if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, such as shut down for 24-48 hours to appropriately clean and disinfect the facility and scrap affected product
  • When this crisis passes, plan to review what happened and how things could have been better handled, then document it all into a plan for future use in the next catastrophic event

The full recording of the webinar is available for viewing here

Additionally, WERC has created a page of COVID-19 resources that is being updated daily at