Skip to main content
Girl and mom doing homework

What Employers Can Do Podcast Transcript


As the pandemic continues, Allina Health Aetna believes we need to find ways to safely co-exist with COVID. I'm Tom Lindquist and today I'm talking to Molly Jungbauer about how employers are co-existing with COVID. And so, first, Molly, I'll let you introduce yourself.

Hi, Tom. Thank you. I'm the CEO and co-owner of Hollstadt Consulting. We're an IT and management consulting firm. We've been providing consulting services to many clients over – across multiple industries for close to 30 years. We work primarily with large corporations and government entities to assist them with their project needs, and we typically have between 150-200 employees, and we're headquartered in Mendota Heights.

Thanks, Molly, glad to have you. First question, as a small business owner, tell me what you're seeing at your business and hearing from others around the challenges of coping with COVID-19?

Sure, thank you. Well, first, like many small businesses, COVID-19 has been both very stressful and devastating to Hollstadt. We've experienced a significant drop in revenues. I know that we're not alone because I've had the opportunity to talk to many leaders across multiple industries. That said, Hollstadt is luckier than most because our employees have the capability of working remotely. However, our client projects that we support, many of them have been canceled or put on hold due to the current economic crisis, at a time when our clients are laying off their permanent employees, it's very difficult for them to justify retaining consultants unless they have a highly unique expertise. 

Another common concern I'm hearing from other small businesses, of course, is that they cannot sustain long-term closure. Most of them only have two to three months of cash reserves and don't have access to capital that large businesses do. Pretty difficult to secure a line of credit when your revenues are dropping. You know, many of them have passed that threshold of their cash reserves and are now having to make a really tough decision on whether to close their businesses permanently or not. I'm thankful that Hollstadt is not in that position. 

So, we were talking the other day about how return, return to work experience and the timeline differs from a small business to a large business. Tell me about your experience there.

Sure. For one thing, small businesses don't typically face the same obstacles that large businesses do while implementing safety measures within their office to keep their employees safe. First, we typically have a smaller workforce so that helps to limit the exposure for our employees, especially if you B to B, and not meeting with customers. Second, many large organizations have adopted the open office concept or hoteling concept in order to promote collaboration. And that conflicts, I guess, with a lot of the social distancing requirements for COVID-19. I think most small businesses didn't necessarily adopt those type of office designs. So, we're more aligned with the social distancing requirements.

Finally, many small businesses are located in the suburbs in small office buildings. We're not located in dense urban locations, in large buildings, with multiple tenants and floors. So, really avoid the challenges that large businesses face such as the elevator crowding or the necessity for our employees to use mass transportation to get to work. For all these reasons, Minnesota businesses can safely return to the office more quickly, because it's just much easier for us to implement a safety protocol necessary to protect our employees.

So, when you think about the challenges that are facing small businesses, what advice can you give in terms of where they could turn to for answers to questions about navigating COVID-19?

Well, they can turn to their industry associations, many are members of specific industry associations, other business member groups, or even some of their peers. Also, there's a lot of great information for businesses and employers on the Center for Disease Control website. I personally have used that and even downloaded several of their posters for use in our office. However, my primary resource during this COVID crisis has been the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. They have a great COVID-19 toolkit available. It's easy to use, and up to date. It is on their website and it is specific for Minnesota businesses because as you are probably aware, each state has its own set of requirements for opening your business. And so, theirs is specific for ours, and I have used that extensively for our return to office plan.

I glad you mentioned the Minnesota Chamber. So, can you tell us a little bit more about the role it has played during the pandemic?

Well, they've, again, done a great job, and exceptional job of providing resources for all sized businesses, but especially for small and how to re-open your business safely and welcome back your customers and employees. In addition, they've been working with Governor Walz throughout this crisis to design and establish the safety protocol, in order again, to keep your employees and clients safe. And finally, they've worked with the coalition of 70 business organizations to advocate on behalf of all Minnesota businesses to fully open our state economy as soon as possible. And they continue to put pressure on our governor and other state leaders to do so because again, small businesses cannot afford to sustain a closure much longer.

So, the pandemic has had businesses re-evaluating everything. How do you think it has changed the way businesses and business leaders look at healthcare options for their employees?

So, for Hollstadt employees, it's always been important that we provide healthcare options that meet their personal needs. And one added benefit that has really come to the forefront is telemedicine. This has been a significant benefit during this COVID crisis, especially for those with underlying conditions because it allows them to interact with their doctor and actually have a doctor appointment without having to go to the doctor's office and risk exposure. We have seen a significant increase in the use of telemedicine during this crisis. We also want a healthcare partner that provides updated and reliable information regarding COVID-19, that we can share with our employees. 

There's so much misinformation being disseminated that it's important for employers to be able to communicate accurate and timely information for our employees, so they can maintain their health. In addition, this virus has illuminated the necessity for wellness campaigns, to help employees avoid chronic conditions, you know, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Both underlying conditions obviously for adverse outcomes to COVID-19. However, if an employee does develop one of these conditions or others, it is equally important that they have access to affordable treatments and supplies to help them manage their condition. This issue was being debated even before COVID-19, especially with regards to diabetes. But now it's become even more urgent.

Finally, I hope that employees will soon have access to reliable COVID testing, both viral and antibody. We look forward to the day when they're widely available because it's going to provide that much-needed reassurance for our employees to feel comfortable coming back to the office. 

So, last question, what is your best advice for co-existing with COVID-19?

It is to listen to our health experts and follow the safety guidelines, this is key. Personal responsibility is key. You need to wash your hands, maintain social distancing, cover your cough. All of the advice that they're giving us so that you can protect your fellow human beings. We also need to ensure we are protecting the most vulnerable from this disease, especially until a vaccine is available. But I believe we can safely do that while re-opening our economy because we all know now that a vast majority of people are not adversely impacted by COVID-19. You know, bottom line, I think Minnesotans are smart, they're caring, they're safe people. Given the opportunity, we will rise to the occasion and keep the state healthy while re-opening our economy.

Thank you, Molly. I really appreciate your time and the thoughtful answers to the questions. That'll wrap it up for us today. 

Thank you, Tom.

A total approach to your health and wellness

Allina Health | Aetna is a unique partnership with a refreshing new approach to health care. Our plans are designed to deliver more personal, affordable and effective health care right in your community.

Contact us

Allina Health Aetna Logo Allina Health Aetna Logo

Legal Notices: Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations.

Health benefits and health plans are offered, underwritten or administered by Allina Health and Aetna Insurance Company (Allina Health | Aetna).  Allina Health l Aetna is an affiliate of Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).  Allina Health | Aetna has sole responsibility for its products and services. Aetna provides certain management services to Allina Health | Aetna. Aetna and MinuteClinic, LLC (which either operates or provides certain management support services to MinuteClinic-branded walk-in clinics) are both within the CVS Health family.

Allina Health | Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by Allina Health and Aetna Insurance Company.

This material is for information only and is not an offer or invitation to contract. Health benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. Providers are independent contractors and not our agents. Provider participation may change without notice. We do not provide care or guarantee access to health services. Not all health services are covered. See plan documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability are subject to change and may vary by location. If you are in a plan that requires the selection of a primary care physician and your primary care physician is part of an integrated delivery system or physician group, your primary care physician will generally refer you to specialists and hospitals that are part of the delivery system or physician group. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change.

Language Assistance Language Assistance can be provided by calling the number on your member ID Card. For additional language assistance: Español | 中文 | Tiếng Việt | 한국어 | Tagalog | Pусский | العربية | Kreyòl | Français | Polski | Português | Italiano | Deutsch | 日本語 | فارسی | Other Languages…