Blue Shield of California
COVID-19 Resource Center for Employers, Plan Sponsors, Brokers and Consultants
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Planning your return

Success begins with a plan. In this section, we’ll guide you through creating a comprehensive plan or playbook in preparation for reopening your business.

Top 10 steps to take when you’re preparing to reopen

Businesses face difficult decisions around when and how to return to work safely.

Different work environments have different requirements, but the following steps are applicable to any size and type of business.

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Step 1

Communicate with employees early and often.

Survey your workforce to understand their level of comfort with returning to work. Before reopening, talk with employees about your plans and address their concerns around issues like transportation and childcare. Provide resources and commit to open lines of communication so that the return-to-work experience feels safe and orderly.

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Why every business needs a plan for reopening

Developing a thoughtful and comprehensive plan is a critical part of your reopening strategy. Regardless of how small or large your business is, a plan will help you work through all the necessary safety guidelines you’ll need to follow, as well as ensuring your employees that you are looking out for their wellbeing.

Ensuring adherence to official guidelines

Returning to work during a public health crisis that is not yet fully resolved means employers will have many considerations – including workplace safety recommendations and government regulations – as you move towards reopening.

Employers are encouraged to:

  • Follow all local government orders and determining how they will affect your business operations

  • Stay up to date on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

  • Document your adherence to government and other official guidelines with clear policies and procedures or within a larger “playbook”

  • Revise your plan as the situation changes

A headshot of 

Mary O’Hara, Chief Human Resources Officer, Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield Spotlight

Mary O'Hara on the challenges of reopening

“We won’t get it all exactly right – nevertheless, we have to take decisive action with imperfect information.”

Mary O’Hara, Chief Human Resources Officer, Blue Shield of California

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Phased reopening and what it means for businesses

During the first wave of the pandemic, the state of California released a Resilience Roadmap outlining a four-stage plan for reopening the state’s economy with information on which types of businesses can be open in its various stages. This phased approach was meant to keep customers and employees safe as economic activity increases, with the duration of each phase contingent on key public health metrics.

On November 21, 2020, California entered its second lockdown, restricting activities and issuing a limited stay at home order. We’ve suggested business have a comprehensive plan in place once reopening resumes.

The phased approach can be confusing for business leaders because of the restrictions involved. If your business is eligible to reopen during Stage 2, you will need to do some research into official guidelines around how best to operate while keeping your employees and customers safe.

Blue Shield Spotlight

How Blue Shield is approaching reopening

As an employer, Blue Shield faces many of the same challenges you’ve had in planning for reopening. Through our return-to-work journey, we are learning about what it takes to make the transition as smooth as possible – and we wanted to share a few of the strategies that have helped us in our own plans.

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Creating your playbook or plan

You’ve likely spent time considering the return-to-work strategy for your business and may even have drafted a plan or playbook to document your decisions. But do you have the essentials in place?

Your plan should be comprehensive enough to help leaders with decision making and be updated regularly to reflect changing guidelines.

We understand that, unless you are a larger organization with a stakeholder committee dedicated to contingency planning, it may be difficult to know if your plan covers everything you’ll need. The following checklist is designed help you work through key considerations as you refine your plan.

Blue Shield Spotlight

Reevaluating your benefits strategy

For your employees, returning to work may also mean returning to coverage, and you might be reconsidering if the plans you offer are the best options in light of the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Your employees may benefit from plans like Trio HMO or Tandem PPO which have similar comprehensive benefit structures to the full network options, but lower premiums as well as $0 Teladoc, Shield Concierge support, and more.

We want to help you find the best, most affordable plans for your employees. To learn about different options, reach out to your Blue Shield of California representative.

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Preparing for potential transmission at work

Reopening amidst the uncertainty around COVID-19 can be challenging for businesses. How will you keep your employees safe? There are no easy solutions, but having the right protocols in place can help give everyone greater peace of mind.

Contact us

If you have more questions, we’re here for you.

  • Small Businesses (1-100 employees):
    Employer Services at (800) 325-5166

  • Large Group Employers (101+ employees):
    Contact your Blue Shield representative

  • Brokers: Producer Services at (800) 559-5905