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As cases have now been confirmed in the states of New York, Florida and Rhode Island, along with a second known death in Washington State, at least 74 Americans have now been infected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The CDC has provided their recommendations to prepare, prevent and protect ourselves and our loved ones. But how should employers prepare?
While the outbreak is still unfolding and it is too early to know the true impact it will have on businesses, business continuity and resiliency experts say the time is now for organizations to look at how prepared they are and make plans to keep operations running amid travel bans and illness.
“Update and review pandemic preparedness plans,” said Chloe Demrovsky, president and CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute International, which is focused on helping organizations prepare for and recover from disasters. “If you don’t have one, now is the time to write one. It needs to have leadership buy-in and clear objectives, a thorough risk assessment and an analysis of the potential impact to core functions, and it has to have pandemic-specific elements and strategies.”
“You need a strategy for prioritizing critical traffic and for making sure that appropriate employees can access your systems offsite,” she said. “You should also be regularly using remote meeting and other communications tools. If everyone practices work-from-home tools regularly, they will be better able to use them during a crisis scenario when they become essential.”
“Manufacturers will have a harder time if factories stay shuttered for a long time, whether yours or an upstream supplier’s factories. Do you have stock at hand, can you create stockpiles now for critical components and/or do you have alternate suppliers?
Above all, communicate to your employees now to calm hysteria and let them know that you care and are prepared to keep them as safe as possible.”
All employers need to consider how best to decrease the spread of acute respiratory illness and lower the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should identify and communicate their objectives, which include the following:
Consider the following recommendations in planning for the safety of employees and the continued health of your business as the pandemic unfolds.
Throughout this process and as the pandemic expands, employers must effectively communicate their plans with employees, explaining what human resources policies, workplace flexibilities, and pay, benefits and leave will be available to them.
If you have questions on pandemic planning for your organization, we would welcome a discussion on this increasing concern.