COVID-19 has taken over our lives. It is all we hear about daily. As of March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a pandemic. What does that mean? It means mass hysteria! As if it weren’t bad enough already, right? All joking aside, a pandemic simply means that an epidemic is occurring over a wide geographical area and affects a higher proportion of the population. But we already know this. But what does this mean for you, your business and your most important asset, your staff.
This will have a significant impact on businesses simply due to the fact of not being prepared for a crisis. The crisis need not be an epidemic or a pandemic. It can also be a natural disaster, such as a tornado, fire, or worse. But for now, let’s focus on contagious illnesses, how it affects your business and what you can do to encourage prevention.
First and foremost, if your employees are sick, tell them to stay home! Easier said than done, we get it. You need your team to sustain your business. Do you have that one employee who is always sick on a Thursday, the day after ladies night at a local establishment? Again, we get it. But in reality, do you really want employees at work sick, spreading it around the workplace? If an employee comes to work and appears to be sick, send them home. You can require a medical note indicating the employee is not contagious, but you may want to review your sick leave policies and perhaps loosen the reigns a bit with regards to requiring a physician’s statement clearing the employee to return to work. Health care providers are being bombarded right now and may not have the ability to see a patient for the purpose providing a Return To Work (RTW) notice. Additionally, if the employee has the flu, the doctor will most likely not want them to come into the office. Can you allow employees to work from home? But more importantly, can your system handle an influx of remote workers? During a recent webinar on COVID-19, the speaker talked about a school closure and having the students do e-learning. The system crashed. Why? Because they were not prepared for a crisis! Is your system prepared?
The domino affect now comes into play. Employees are sick, they stay home. Lack of staff means reduction of output. People staying home reduces consumption, thus demand decreases, which leads to reduction of revenue, employees being laid off. The list goes on and on until nothing. Nothing leads to bankruptcy. This of course is the worst-case scenario but for the small, family owned businesses, the reality of this is all too real.
We can sit here and write 10 pages on recommended protective measures that businesses should do to help prevent the spread of illnesses, but we as individuals should be doing these things daily. So instead we will provide some recommendations for organizations and workplace leadership to consider when it comes to Workplace Disruptions:
- Put plans and procedures in place for all crisis and emergency situations. An example might be workplace technology such as tele-commuting, phone and/or video conferencing and how implementing these may help your organization maintain operations during a disruption.
- Create a Crisis Communication Plan. These should include procedures on informing staff, customers and the general public about any changes to your operations. Remember, being prepared is a cycle. Test, review and update regularly to account for your organization’s needs. Adapt any plans accordingly.
- Observe travel advisories and restrictions. Avoid travel to places of increased risk. See first bullet point!
We cannot control every situation, but we can put measures in place to minimize disruption to the best of our ability. This is not a one size fits all. Do you have multiple locations, either domestically and/or internationally? These are considerations when creating your Crisis Plans.
Need help putting together a Crises or Pandemic Recovery Plan? Clients of MidwestHR can reach out to their dedicated HR Specialist to provide template plans and language and assist you in putting together plans and policies to help you with Emergency Benefit Plans, day-to-day operations amidst a health crises and remote working strategies.
For additional resources on COVID 19, visit the Centers for Disease Control dedicated site HERE.