6/1/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: An Important Message About Return to Work

Dear colleagues:

I hope you had a safe, restful, and enjoyable holiday weekend.

As many of us spent Memorial Day gathering and reuniting with vaccinated family and friends, we recognize how much has changed since this time last year. While COVID has by no means gone away, the outlook continues to improve. To date, more than 11 million people have been vaccinated in Illinois, with 65% of adults having had at least one shot. Meanwhile, our positivity rate is the lowest it has been since the pandemic started. If these positive developments continue, Illinois is slated to fully reopen on Friday, June 11. What that means for each business and employer (including IDHS and the State of Illinois), as to public health precautions, will be determined on a business-by-business basis, with ongoing State and CDC guidance.

IDHS has also come a long way. With very little notice, thousands of you shifted to remote work in March 2020. Since then, you have excelled in unprecedented and unplanned circumstances, working tirelessly to provide the best possible services and much-needed support to the people of Illinois during an extremely trying time.

Throughout this transition, we have realized efficiencies and best practices in many areas of our work and have come to understand the power of a flexible and adaptable operational model. As we recover from the pandemic and look to the future, we are planning towards a "new normal," where we combine both pre- and post-COVID best practices to meet the following goals:

  • Provide the best possible service to our customers.
  • Meet strategic and business objectives and operating needs.
  • Ensure equity and fairness for all employees and customers.
  • Maintain a safe environment by adhering to guidelines and best practices for infection control.
  • Maintain or increase staff satisfaction and retention.

IDHS' Central Planning Team (CPT) and Executive Leadership have begun the process of planning with division and department leadership for how we will operate as the State of Illinois reopens. We anticipate that, for many, work will continue as it has over the past 6 months. However, based on the goals, above, on an additional, limited basis, some may be asked to return to the worksite on a hybrid or full-time basis. As we plan for any changes, we will keep you informed and provide appropriate notice to allow you to plan ahead.

In the long-term, consistent with our Reinvent IDHS, Restore Illinois initiative, IDHS is focused on creating a workplace that enables the best experience for our customers, while maximizing productivity, equity, safety, and staff retention and satisfaction. We will continue to seek staff input throughout this planning process and keep you informed about any changes that will impact your work.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact dhs.reinvent-restore@illinois.gov.

Thank you again for your continued flexibility and commitment this year.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS