Here are seven strategic steps your business should consider to manage the COVID-19 situation.
- Create an Internal Crisis Management Team
Depending on the size and scope of your business, it is important to create a Crisis Management Team (CMT) to handle current and future emergencies. Ideally, your CMT is composed of members from leadership: HR, IT, operations, legal, as well as PR and/or marketing. A smaller company might pare down their CMT to just the CEO, CFO, HR and PR/marketing.
The purpose of your CMT is to better understand the nature of the crisis and stay up-to-date on all government requirements or recommendations. The CMT should also decide the practical, legal and financial impact the crisis may be having on the business, and how to help employees and clients prepare for or mitigate the effects.
The team should also issue guidelines and create a strategy for the company’s communication plan to ensure consistent and effective messaging.
Finally, your CMT should meet regularly to evaluate the crisis and how the business is responding to the current plan, in order to adjust your strategies accordingly.
- Protect your employees in the workplace
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the coronavirus spreads primarily through person-to-person contact, by inhaling infected micro-droplets dispersed when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible to become infected by touching a contaminated surface (especially metal or plastic) and then touching one’s nose, mouth or eyes.
Based on this, the CDC advises that employers should strongly encourage their employees to take the following actions:
- Stay home if they have a temperature of 100.4 F or exhibit respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath.
- Go home if they develop these symptoms while at the workplace.
- Block all coughs and sneezes with a tissue, elbow, or shoulder not with their bare hands.
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid shaking hands or engaging in any close contact with other employees or customers.
Additionally, make sure that alcohol-based hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes are readily available throughout the workplace. Also coordinate with your janitorial services to increase the frequency of their cleaning schedules and to make sure they focus on disinfecting all commonly used or frequently touched surfaces. It may also be a good idea to replace blow-dry mechanisms in your washrooms with paper towels as there is some evidence that paper towel drying is less likely to spread viruses than jet dryers.
- Maximize your employees’ ability to work remotely
While many businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, manufacturing and health care require employees to be physically present, many others have jobs that can be performed remotely. While this is a growing trend because it saves businesses money and reduces traffic congestion and pollution, it should be particularly encouraged reduce risks exposure to the virus. Conference calls and videoconferencing are good alternatives to forcing dozens of people into conference rooms or auditoriums.
- Develop effective channels for employee communication
Rumors and gossip can spread as quickly as a virus and cause undo disruption and fears in the workplace. It is vital to be able to communicate quickly and clearly to all your employees, including those working offsite. Three things needed to ensure effective communication.
- Establish protocols for vetting information to ensure communications are accurate and consistent.
- Create multiple channels of communication to ensure messages are seen and read by all employees quickly and completely.
- Develop and maintain a comprehensive, curated database of all employee contact information that is updated constantly. The database should include name, phone/text, email information as well as emergency contact info.
- Reschedule events and meetings or switch to a virtual conference technology.
As a result of state and local mandates, many businesses have already cancelled or rescheduled major meetings for the next several weeks. There is no reason to expect this trend to let up in the coming months. On a positive note, the technology already exists to create virtual conferences and expos which can be more cost-effective than live events. In fact, one of the long-term benefits of this crisis may be a faster adoption rate of new communication technologies that could improve profitability in the future.
While there are many products to choose from, Tech Funnel has 11 suggestions for implementing virtual meeting platforms.
- Make sure all supervisors and managers are adequately trained.
If you haven’t done so already, it is important to make sure your management and supervisor teams are well-trained and knowledgeable about COVID-19. Supervisors should have access to information such as infection control and company policies, as well as knowing who to contact to report concerns. You should also ensure there is a system to promptly notify local public health authorities about suspected exposure.
The CDC website has information you will need to keep your team informed and equipped to handle the crisis. You can also call them at 800-232-4636 with specific questions.
Planning for global health emergencies can help protect your employees, customers, and your business during future crises as well.
- Employee travel planning
The current health crisis has brought severe travel restrictions that have impacted global businesses. It can also affect SMBs that may be planning international travel. Be sure to review CDC guidelines and recommendations for each country to which you will travel.
Even if travel is allowed it is important to make sure your employees are taking necessary precautions before, during and after their trips. Remind employees to check themselves for symptoms before traveling and to stay home if they are sick.
If an employee should become sick while traveling, it is vital that they notify their supervisor and call a healthcare provider for advice. Ensure your employees understand your company policies for obtaining medical care while outside the country. This is something your CMT should be considering and providing direction.
Paycor is Here for You
Paycor builds HR software for leaders of medium & small business. For 30 years, we’ve been listening to and partnering with leaders, so we know what they need: HCM technology that saves time, powerful analytics and expert HR advice to help them solve problems and achieve their goals.