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ASE Releases COVID-19 Employer Response Survey Results

March 26, 2020

By Kevin Marrs, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

On March 18th, ASE released a survey that tracked employer’s growing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey, launched when there were just 26 confirmed cases in Michigan, provides a comprehensive look at efforts and measures employers have taken or are considering in response to both human resource and business continuity concerns.

The survey data suggests that employers took quick action to address the immediate concerns generated by the crisis.  Specifically, many employers took steps to ramp up their communication efforts with their workforce and educated themselves on the current crisis as it unfolded.  This involved communicating with employees about personal hygiene and preventative measures (97.6%), monitoring government agencies for guidelines (97.6%), and communicating with employees about what to do if they or a family member show symptoms of the virus (91%).  Nearly all participants (96.4%) ramped up efforts to clean and sanitize their office environments.

The survey also showed the dramatic cessation of business travel/mobility and the shift to remote work.   Actions implemented in this area include the following:

Suspending international business travel (88.0%)

Canceling in-person internal events, trade shows, training, etc. (88.0%)

Canceling in-person external events, trade shows, training, etc.  (87.4%)

Shifting to virtual meetings and virtual training sessions (85%)

Suspending domestic travel (69.5%)

Encouraging remote work where possible (62.9%)

The data suggests that some organizations may not have been equipped for remote work.  Nearly 80% of companies worked to address technology needs to allow for remote work and nearly 90% (86.8%) reviewed their remote work policies to accommodate the changing business landscape.  Additionally, while just slightly more than 60% have encouraged remote work, another 27.5% were considering it at the time of the survey.

Other Survey Highlights:

  • Nearly a quarter (24.6%) have considered a work stoppage or shutdown.  Just slightly more than four percent (4.2%) have implemented one.  Those that have implemented a shutdown are primarily in the manufacturing and educational industry.

  • Human resource departments have taken a close look at their policies in light of this crisis.  Notably, remote work (86.8%), attendance (74.3%), business travel suspensions and restrictions (73.1%), paid time off or paid leave benefits (69.5%), and FMLA/Medical Leave policies (64.7%) have been evaluated in preparation or response to the pandemic.

  • Just 20% of respondents currently maintain a formal Pandemic Policy.  80% maintain a formal emergency plan and nearly 60% (58.6%) have a business continuity plan.

  • Slightly more than 70% of organizations have restricted access to their facility and more than a third (35.3%) are using a COVID-19 pre-screening questionnaire for visitors.

  • While it may be too early to know the full economic impact of this crisis, our data suggests that the unfolding crisis is impacting the business outlook for many employers.  More than a third of respondents (34.2%) report that their hiring projections have been moderately to significantly impacted by the pandemic.

The situation, and employers’ response to it, is evolving rapidly.  On Monday, Governor Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order restricting all but essential services.  Prior to that order, many businesses were faced with suppliers and vendors shutting down operations to control the spread of the virus and protect their employees.  As a result, businesses have turned their attention to the economic impact these actions will have on their operations.  ASE will continue to study the employer response in the coming days and weeks as we navigate this global crisis.

About the Survey

167 companies in Michigan responded to the survey.  The majority (84%) of the respondents have 500 or fewer employees.

For employer resources on handling the COVID-19 pandemic and for daily updates, please visit

To download full survey results, click here.  Contact Kevin Marrs at for more information.

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