As business consultants we are required to help businesses plan for all possible challenges. With the Coronavirus in the news, we believe it’s a good time for business owners to develop or review plans for dealing with widespread illness. Even a simple flu outbreak can disrupt a small business so it’s important to have a plan. Every business is different but there are some basic steps most should take. Here are some of the key steps we advise our clients to take.
Develop a plan now.
Don’t panic. The coronavirus is certainly the issue of the day but widespread illness is a fairly common situation, so develop a plan that you can implement now and rely on in other future emergencies. Workplace emergency protocols will help everyone take action quickly the next time a situation arises.
Identify a point person.
No matter what size business you operate, it’s a good idea to have one person who can collect and coordinate information. Chances are things will change on a daily basis so you need someone who will monitor the situation.
Identify essential employees.
Identify the positions and employees most essential to keep operations running. Develop a backup plan should these people fall ill. This could include a training program for backup personnel or making arrangements with retirees or part time employees to fill in.
Identify your critical suppliers and subcontractors.
Check in with them in advance to make sure they are prepared to continue to serve your business in the event of a community-wide illness.
Check your contracts for a force majeure clause.
Keep in mind that a serious pandemic situation could be considered a force majeure event.
Anticipate change in demand.
Will demand increase or decrease for your product or service in a community wide illness.
Determine if you will need to make any changes to deal with it.
Communicate regularly to employees.
Make sure your employees understand that their health and safety is a top priority.
Review your sick time policy and make sure it is fully understood by employees. Take time to explain exactly how, and to whom, employees should report that they will be out sick. Remind employees of any flu shots or other preventive measures they can take such as hand washing.
Anticipate employee absence.
Keep in mind that employees will be affected by much more than just their own illness.
Plan for absences due to sick children and other family members, possible school and child care closings along with other logistical difficulties including quarantine.
Develop a plan for telecommuting.
Today it’s possible for many employees to work from home. Develop a plan to allow certain employees to work from home and make sure your IT infrastructure can support more people working remotely. Make sure everyone understands the policy.
Make sure hand sanitizer, tissues and wipes are plentiful and available. Encourage your staff to take precautions and try to keep surfaces germ free. Keeping your employees healthy is the best defense for your business.
Stay informed and share information.
Monitor public health agencies and local medical authorities and keep your employees up to date. Sharing accurate information allows you to project a sense of calm and gives employees confidence in your leadership.
Treat your customers and employees well.
This situation will eventually be over and they will appreciate that you looked out for them. As always it’s important to understand and practice The Power of Respect in Business.
To learn more about this and other business topics contact us at Expertsinhow.com