Returning to the Workplace with Confidence


Without question, COVID-19 has turned our world upside down. Everything from how we work, play, learn and socialize has dramatically changed in an effort to flatten the curve and save as many lives as possible. And while families and communities are craving a sense of normalcy and know that includes a return to the workplace, the unknown of what to expect is understandably daunting.

As economies around the globe begin to restart, General Motors wants to be part of the solution and provide employees with the tools and knowledge needed to return to the workplace with confidence. We do not take the decision to resume operations lightly as we understand the health of our people extends to their families, communities, and partners around the world.

This is why we have worked with internal and external experts to develop a robust, multifaceted protection approach, custom tailored for each of our facilities. Our approach has been created based on Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization and local health authorities’ guidelines, and we have been intentional about receiving best practices and advice from countries that have already reopened successfully.

Our Corporate Medical Director, Dr. Jeffery Hess, is overseeing this process.  With more than 35 years of experience, including a stretch at the Centers for Decease Control and Prevention, Dr. Hess has significant knowledge in occupational medicine and environmental health. He has a team of medical professionals that are allocated to each of our facilities, with the sole goal of returning our people home safely. Every person. Every site. Every day.


How were the GM return to work safety procedures and protocols developed and validated?

  • Our approach is based on Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization and local health authorities’ guidelines and is informed by global standardized processes GM developed for use in China and Korea – as well as input from union leadership. 
  • We have designed extensive procedures guided by the country’s and the world’s experts. We’ve coupled the experts’ guidelines and scientific data to help keep everyone safe when they arrive at the workplace, perform their jobs and leave.

What data gives the company confidence that these procedures will be successful?

  • We have already applied these protocols in the Kokomo, Indiana and Warren, Michigan facilities, where we’re producing ventilators and face masks, as well as in our Arlington, Texas facility and in our Customer Care and Aftersales operations that have remained open to support customer service and parts needs. 
  • Watch the video above for a deeper look at the results we’ve seen already.

What will entering a GM facility look like, and how will employees maintain their safety throughout the day?

  • We have a COVID-19 Employee Guide designed to prepare employees for screening and entry procedures, sanitization and PPE, break protocols, facility departure/disposal of PPE, and returning home directions. This document is intended to answer a lot of those questions before anyone walks through the doors.
  • The simplest and most important example is the fact that every person entering a GM facility will be provided with and is required to wear a face mask at all times, except when eating or drinking. Homemade masks are not permitted. 
  • Upon arrival, employees will also encounter visual aids designed to ensure physical distancing, complete a simple COVID-19 questionnaire, and be reminded about hand sanitizing and use of face masks. They will also undergo temperature screening to help prevent people with a fever from exposing others to potential infection.
  • Changes throughout our facilities also include steps to ensure sanitization and physical distancing protocols for workstations, and actions to lessen interaction with door handles and improve ventilation.

What are employees encouraged to do when they get home from work?

  • If employees bring their mask home from work, they should store it in a lunch size paper bag so the mask can dry and because that helps protect others from contacting the possibly contaminated surface.
  • When returning from work or a public place, we should all wash our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.  Cover all surfaces of your hands with hand sanitizer and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • And of course, our actions outside work are just as important. Everyone should maintain physical distancing anywhere outside our homes and wear masks in public places.

How will the company deal with potential COVID-19 cases?

  • If a potential case is identified, a medical staff member will gather information and provide guidance regarding any suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Privacy will be respected, and personal information will be used only as necessary for case management and contact tracing. Based on the information obtained, medical personnel will notify the employee’s direct contacts and site HR as appropriate.
  • The medical team, working with the local health authority, will follow procedures in place to respond to suspected or confirmed positive cases. This includes contact tracing and sanitization protocol.

How will the company report information about potential and confirmed cases to its employees and local authorities?

  • We have procedures in place to report and stay coordinated with local authorities to ensure we’re doing our part to quickly identify cases and contain any potential spread. We are all in this together and need open communication to be successful. At the same time, we will respect the privacy of our employees and limit what’s shared outside the company. 

How will you make adjustments and changes to these safety protocols as more is learned by GM, health officials and others?

  • We are learning new information about the COVID-19 virus all the time. We continue to monitor the Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization and local health authorities for updates and changes, as well as other medical and scientific resources.
  • We will continually update our established safety protocols and practices consistent with the latest medical and scientific guidance to help ensure a safe work environment.

Many aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak can cause stress and anxiety. How is GM supporting employees experiencing stress and anxiety about COVID-19 and returning to the workplace?

  • Many aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak can cause stress and anxiety. Fear of the disease, dealing with the unknown, social isolation and financial stress can all become overwhelming very quickly and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Managing your stress can help you, the people you care about and your community be resilient and thrive.
  • Some ways to cope include:
    • Learn from reputable resources like the Public Health Agency of Canada about the disease and how to protect yourself and your family
    • Avoid binging on the news, social media and television
    • Take care of yourself by eating healthy, getting regular exercise, trying to obtain good sleep each night and avoiding alcohol and drugs
    • Take breaks and do an activity you and your family enjoy
    • Connect with others by giving them a call
    • For more stress management resources, go to visit COVID-19 Toolkit for individuals
  • We know we can’t defeat COVID-19 alone so our “COVID-19 Employee Guide” can help advise other companies and stakeholders interested in learning more about our processes, and how they can also return to the workplace with confidence.