Church Mutual® announces tentative return-to-work plans
MERRILL, Wis. – With a focus on safety for employees and the communities where they live and work, Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I., (a stock insurer)1 has announced a tentative return-to-offices target date of Sept. 8, 2020. Currently, more than 90 percent of the company’s 1,300 employees are working from home due to stay-home guidance and health risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It will not be a flip-the-switch return,” according to the Church Mutual’s president and CEO, Rich Poirier. “From the onset of the situation, we have had two big priorities, keeping our employees as safe as possible and serving our customers. To date, we have been successful with both and we don’t want to compromise that. We will continuously monitor pandemic infection rates and spread. If the risk of illness increases, or we see any other negative impact from states beginning to re-open, we will revise our date. The date is a target and subject to change.”
Sept. 8 tentatively marks the start of a phased, careful return-to-office initiative that will likely progress from September through the end of December or beyond. The company’s Incident Response Team, activated in early March, is creating a plan expected to include temperature checks and face coverings for anyone who wishes to enter a Church Mutual facility. It may also include flexible start times for employees to enable social distancing. Offices and other workspaces will be modified as needed to support social distancing requirements and hygiene considerations.
“The plan is intended to meet or exceed CDC guidelines for safety,” according to Steve Rominske, chair of the Incident Response Team as well as the company’s senior vice president, chief actuary and chief risk officer. “In addition, the return-to-offices plan will follow federal, state and local guidelines that apply to each location.” Church Mutual has two large office buildings in its Merrill, Wisconsin, headquarters, as well as facilities in Denver; Madison, Wisconsin; and Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. In addition, the company employs nearly 300 permanent, work-from-home employees nationwide. They will be expected to follow the same guidelines when they conduct business outside their home offices.
During the current stay-home situation, selected employees have been allowed to work onsite if their duties cannot be performed from home, or if their home internet connectivity is inadequate. That will continue, as will precautions to keep them as safe as possible.
As employees slowly return to work, they may request extended work-from-home arrangements if they or those in their households have any health or safety concerns.
“We really miss the camaraderie, energy and spark that comes from all of us being together,” Poirier said, “but staying as safe as possible is so much more important. No one can predict what the pandemic will look like six months, nine months or even a year from now. We must remain vigilant and careful.”
He also acknowledged the impact that work-from-home directives have on the community, especially in the company’s hometown of Merrill.
“I want everyone to know we remain strongly committed to the cities where we have offices,” Poirier said. “We continue to donate to their food pantries and other community-support causes. In Merrill, we have been providing free lunches for all employees who must work onsite, and all of those meals are being purchased from Merrill restaurants.” The company also co-sponsored “Singing for the Supper,” a televised music event that raised more than $100,000 for the largest food pantry in Marathon County, located south of the company’s headquarters.
1Church Mutual is a stock insurer whose policyholders are members of the parent mutual holding company formed on 1/1/2020. S.I. = a stock insurer.
About Church Mutual
Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I., founded in 1897, offers specialized insurance for religious organizations of all denominations, public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities, senior living facilities, camps and conference centers, and nonprofit and human services organizations throughout the United States. Church Mutual markets most lines of commercial property and liability insurance, including multi-peril, workers' compensation and commercial auto insurance. In addition to insurance, Church Mutual provides a spectrum of value-added solutions that benefit its customers. Church Mutual holds the following honors:
- A.M. Best Company "A" (excellent) rating
- BenchmarkPortal Top 10 National Customer Service Center
- Wisconsin 75 Top Private Company by Deloitte US, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019
- Wisconsin 75 Distinguished Performer: Innovation by Deloitte US 2019
- Futuremakers Partner by Wisconsin Technical College System
- Celent Model Insurer for innovation and emerging technologies
- Award in Innovation for entrepreneurialism and innovation by National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
- 2018-2019 Employer of the Year by Northcentral Technical College