How to Prepare Your Business for the Corona Virus or Another Pandemic?

This post first appeared on AABRS. Read the original article.

“Trying to contain this is like trying to contain the wind.”

Michael Osterholm, Director of The Center For Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University Of Minnesota

For business leaders, the advent of “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease”, also known as the novel Corona Virus, may be looked upon as a valuable opportunity to examine your business continuity protocols.

As events like this demonstrate, business is a globally connected culture in constant reaction to wider influences. For businesses with a presence in China, the impacts have been immediate: Starbucks closed 2000 Chinese branches, Disneyland Shanghai closed its doors, Toyota closed its manufacturing plants. In Wuhan, KFC, Pizza Hut, Mcdonalds, IKEA, Gap and Apple were just some of the other international brands who immediately shut down to protect employees from potential danger.

Opening after the extended Lunar New Year holiday, Chinese stock markets reopened to their worst day in years with a more than 8% drop. But of course the Chinese economy does not exist in isolation. Economists already predict that Corona will affect the global supply chain, as well as foreign tourist industries who are already seeing diminished Chinese travellers.

As to the annual impact on the global economy, no one knows, not least of which because the virus itself is still spreading fast.

The goal of this article, however, is simply to ask the question of whether you’re prepared, as a business, for events like this. If not, it’s worth sitting down and creating an impact analysis plan of some kind, which means a detailed document outlining possible scenarios and the appropriate responses.

We’ve created some useful checklists to help you with the task.

14 Point Risk Planning Checklist for Your Specific Business Operations

  1. Choose an employee who will be responsible for planning and preparedness.
  2. Identify critical business activities and the employees and inputs (eg raw materials or subcontractors) required to maintain them in the event of an outbreak..
  3. Consider the possible impact of employee absences – how would you fare with 40% off ill?
  4. You may need to cross train some staff for ancillary roles.
  5. Consider the possible impact of supply chain disruption – do you need to stockpile inventory? Do any of your major contracts contain ‘force majeure’ clauses which could trigger a breach of contract?
  6. Examine the likely impact of a pandemic on your market and on your customers’ requirements
  7. Review your insurance coverage with brokers and carriers to insure adequate coverage
  8. Assess the potential financial impacts to your business using multiple potential scenarios
  9. Prepare alternatives to any business need for face-to-face meetings
  10. Understand the special needs of some employees during a pandemic
  11. Consider the financial management implications of a pandemic
  12. Examine the extent to which others will be dependent on your business in the event of a pandemic
  13. Consider the circumstances under which you might decide to scale back or suspend operations during a pandemic
  14. Test the plan with an exercise or drill to assess your state of preparedness

8 Ways to Protect and Support Employees Through the Corona Virus

The role of businesses in protecting against and mitigating pandemic risks is an important one. As part of any continuity plan, business owners should look closely at the ways in which a pandemic is going to impact employee attendance, health and mental wellbeing.

Use the following checklist to cover the essential points;

  1. Actively encourage ill employees to stay at home, making sure they know this is OK and will not be frowned upon.
  2. Ensure your company has the IT infrastructure (including bandwidth, security and connectivity) needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home
  3. Minimise all non-essential travel to areas of high risk
  4. Revisit your sick leave policies to ensure they include flexibility in the case of pandemics.
  5. Speak with any agencies who send you temporary staff to ensure their policies accord with your own
  6. Ensure your leave policies include the ability for employees to stay at home should they have family members who are sick, or children home from school.
  7. Remind staff about respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene, taking care to provide an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for common use, plus disposable wipes
  8. Ensure your internal comms procedure is prepared to communicate with teams your plans and the latest COVID-19 information.

Educate Employees About Correct Handwashing Protocol for Corona Virus

Correct hand hygiene technique is one of the most effective ways to prevent and control infection.

Use the downloadable sheet to educate employees about correct protocols for washing hands, as per the World Health Organisations recommended methodology.

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