The COVID-19 pandemic has caught most of us off guard. Who would’ve thought that the world would spend the year battling a virus?
This unprecedented global crisis is a reminder that these business threats are very real and acts as a wake-up call for business leaders. Even if the scenario may seem far-fetched, it pays to prepare for the worst. When a pandemic hits, businesses play a crucial role in protecting the health of their employees and limiting the adverse impact on the community and the wider domestic economy.
In this guide, we will help you prepare for future outbreaks and similar events, as well as offer tips for managing your business during a pandemic.
Develop a Business Continuity and Crisis Plan
A business continuity plan reduces the impact of a crisis on your business and allows for the speedy resumption of business activities in case you are forced to scale back or temporarily shut down. A business continuity plan doesn’t make your business immune from threats, but it does mean you’re prepared for them.
Important factors to consider when creating your business continuity plan include the critical services and positions that you should keep to continue running your business and the decision-making process in such troubled times.
You should also prepare for safeguarding essential corporate records and documents, as well as internal and external communications for relevant stakeholders. Most importantly, you need to have a concrete action plan for your recovery.
Planning for the Potential Impact on Your Business
To be able to plan accordingly, you must first assess the risk of the pandemic on your employees, customers, suppliers, and other relevant stakeholders. Next, you must be prepared for staff absences and ready to implement flexible work arrangements for such circumstances.
In line with this, make sure that you have the right technologies in place and all your staff are well-trained in using these tools. Beside your business operations, you should also look into your financials and assess the potential impact of the event, threat or pandemic.
Create a plan for multiple possible scenarios that may lead to an increase or decrease in demand for your offerings. How will you cope in case of disruption to supply of necessary materials? How will you adapt to social restrictions and increased public fear that will cause people to avoid public places? Do you have access to a line of credit in case of cash flow troubles brought about by reduced business activity?
Additionally, you must have an emergency communications plan which includes key contacts and the chain of communications. The key contacts should have sources of timely and accurate information related to local public health and emergency management.
Planning for the Potential Impact on Your Employees
Because your employees are your greatest assets, you must have concrete steps to protect their health and safety. This includes planning for infection control practices, protective and preventative equipment, healthcare services available for your staff, flexible work sites and schedules, as well as new employee leave policies that will take effect in such a unique situation.
Equally important to consider is your employees’ mental health. This means taking focus on how you can manage fear, anxiety, and misinformation among your people through effective communication practices and providing access to mental health services during a pandemic and a possible quarantine.
Taking Advantage of Tools and Guidelines from the Government
Just as businesses plan for a pandemic or crises, government agencies usually have a suite of tools, templates, and guidelines that you can take advantage of in these situations. There may also be a business continuity guide available which highlights the essential factors to take into consideration as you create one for your business.
You should also be aware of sources of federal, state/provincial, and local public health information, as well as free business advice and consultation that may be available in your region
Being Prepared Makes All the Difference
External threats like the COVID-19 pandemic don’t just claim lives, they also create significant economic damage. We have seen how extended periods of lockdown and temporary closures have hit businesses hard. While some were able to pivot, many are still distressed and on the verge of bankruptcy. This experience teaches us that staying prepared can make the difference in mitigating risks and cushioning the blows of a pandemic or any other events that can trigger a crisis.
If you need assistance in crafting your business continuity plan or professional support moving forward, don’t hesitate to get in touch.