Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Employer Efforts During COVID-19

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and the Detroit Regional Chamber partnered to create Wellness Works, a program with a mission to create healthy employees, increase business performance, and contribute to a thriving Detroit region. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have worked to keep employee health and well-being at the forefront of remote operations. Wellness Works aims to share these efforts with the community in hopes of spreading positive business stories and successes.

As a key leader in the region and a valued partner of the Chamber, BCBSM’s efforts toward promoting employee health and well-being was collected to serve as an educational resource for other regional businesses.

Unlike many organizations, BCBSM never completely closed its doors. Being available to process claims and assist customers with health insurance needs is an essential component in keeping Southeast Michigan residents healthy.

By focusing on employee safety, enhanced cleaning protocols, mental health services, and frequent communication, BCBSM is comforting employees and maintaining engagement and productivity throughout the pandemic.

Employee Safety

Remote operations: While BCBSM continued on-site operations during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, the organization was met with unique internal challenges. There are two distinct groups of employees – those who hold essential “in-office” positions and those with the ability to work remotely. Two years ago, BCBSM created the BlueSpace voluntary program for eligible employees to sign up and receive approval to work remotely for two-to-five days each week. Currently, any employee or contractor eligible to work from home is doing so, most on a full-time basis.

Enhanced safety procedures: BCBSM’s safety precautions include:

  • Regular temperature checks
  • Social distancing
  • Mask requirements for employees and visitors
  • Health attestation process

A complete list of safety measures was compiled into a COVID-19 playbook, which was added to an internal website for employees to access at any time. An internal video was also created to show all on-site employees, as well as those returning, the safety precautions that have been integrated into the workplace to keep them safe.

Enhanced cleaning protocols: Since BCBSM did not fully close its facilities, they quickly updated their cleaning protocols and responded to employee feedback. Tricia Snyder, senior director of Human Resources and Labor Relations for BCBSM noted that visual ques helped assure employees that the building was regularly cleaned and disinfected.

This includes:

  • Cleaning staff now circulate the office throughout the workday, so employees feel confident their workspace is disinfected frequently.
  • Cleaning supplies, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer stations are located throughout facilities.
  • Signage is strategically placed in bathrooms, elevators, and hallways to remind employees to wash their hands and practice social distancing.
  • All employees receive a mask to wear as they move around the office.
  • Essential employees have been spread out to ensure proper social distancing between workstations.

Mental Health Services

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Email communications from human resources encourage employees to utilize the mental health services included in their benefits package. The program serves as a tool to connect employees with mental health professionals.

Be Well Ambassador Program: This ongoing program is another resource that is used to connect coworkers with mental health services.

Engagement and Productivity

Stay Healthy, Stay Engaged program: The BCBSM human performance team has been engaging employees and sharing resources throughout COVID-19 with the Stay Healthy, Stay Engaged program. This initiative is dedicated to helping employees stay physically and mentally fit through interactive webinars and engaging newsletters. Popular topics include tips for remote employees, community well-being, working from home with children, and leadership strategies for managers. Since March, the program has published 32 webinars and received over 10,000 views. BCBSM has found that employees are looking for the information, utilizing it, and revisiting it frequently.

Childcare: Dependable childcare is an important step for parents to be engaged and productive. In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are balancing childcare, homeschooling, and work responsibilities. To assist parents, BCBSM relaxed childcare policies and made it easier to take time off.

Frequent Communication

Statements from leadership: Consistent communication from leadership reassures employees of the precautions being taken to ensure safe operations inside the office and remotely. Dan Loepp, president and CEO, frequently shares emails and videos with staff to explain their essential role during the pandemic.

Internal website: A section of BCBSM’s internal website has been dedicated toward sharing COVID-19 resources, information, and updates to keep employees informed and connected.

COVID-19 cases within the organization: Leadership uses the internal website to notify employees when a coworker has tested positive for COVID-19. While the name of the individual is not referenced to protect the confidentiality of the person’s health information, the building and floor of the individual’s workstation is shared. Employees appreciate being informed on the number of cases within their organization. Leadership also recognizes the importance of communicating when the individual has recovered, which has helped employees feel more at ease according to Snyder.

Employee health and safety is a top priority for BCBSM. When an organization is committed to strengthening the health of their workforce, there is a direct benefit to community well-being, and in turn, a healthier region. Offering mental health services through an EAP, sending frequent communications from leadership, and implementing safety protocols into facilities are three ways to comfort employees while maintaining engagement and productivity during COVID-19. Share your organization’s story.

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