Business

Navigating COVID-19

Michigan Works! Helps Businesses Through New Challenges

 

The spread of COVID-19 across Michigan caused panic, uncertainty and a statewide shutdown of all nonessential businesses through a “Stay home. Stay safe.” executive order issued by the governor. Over the past few months, employers have been seeking answers to tough business questions, and Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! has been up to the challenge of answering them.

GLB Michigan Works! Director of Business Services and Community Relations Sheril Tarrant said that staff understands the struggle and pain points businesses are facing during this unprecedented time.

“We feel for our employers. We really have a connection with the employers that we work with. We want them to know we understand, and we’re here and ready to help,” Tarrant said.

She explained that on a normal day, the business services team works with employers on human resources and talent management needs like advertising job openings and resume searches. Since COVID-19 has presented unique challenges, GLB Michigan Works! has altered its approach to better help businesses.

“We’re doing a lot more listening,” Tarrant said. “We’re doing a lot of spending time just trying to connect employers to information that they’re seeking that they’ve generally never had to look into.”

Many employers are having to lay off workers for the first time or the first time in years, she continued.

“At this point, we’re just trying to help guide employers through processes. We’re not the unemployment agency, but we can certainly provide as much guidance as we can,” Tarrant said.

In addition to connecting employers to unemployment and helping with the paperwork, the business services team has connected companies to economic developers, chambers of commerce and the Small Business Administration as well as communicated any grants or financial support programs that arise.

“Essentially, we’re all working together – all these organizations that represent businesses. We’re in contact with the chambers. We’re in contact with the economic developers. Any employer who reaches out is going to get the right information,” Tarrant said.

“We are not always the solution, but we can certainly be a connector to a resource,” she added.

Tarrant said that although a lot of the companies are laying off workers, there are still some that are hiring.

“What I am seeing is we have an increase in the number of home health care that are seeking employment. They’re looking to hire and have a huge need right now,” she said.

Michigan Works! is using social media, college job boards and the Pure Michigan Talent Connect website to push out job postings for health care organizations, grocery stores and more as quickly as possible.

Tarrant said her team is working hard for employees now but is also planning for business needs for when operations start up again.

“When the ‘all clear’ is given and everybody is coming back to work, we’re ready to step in and help employers get their employees back,” she said.

“All they have to do is call, and we’ll be here to help,” she added.

Any employer can contact GLB Michigan Works! for free assistance, Tarrant said. The team has people specialized by trade, but also are each trained to deal with all aspects of industry.

There are five service centers located in Bay, Midland, Saginaw, Gratiot and Isabella counties. For more information on receiving help from the business services team at GLB Michigan Works!, visit michiganworks.com.

Stay home. Stay safe.

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