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March 24, 2020

While most companies have a robust crisis management plan in place, it often isn’t tested from beginning to end. When creating these plans, teams imagine every scenario possible and put effective strategies in place to maintain stability. So, what happens when an unprecedented crisis occurs that was not accounted for?

In recent months, we’ve seen the coronavirus pandemic present a new element to contingency planning which leads to gaps in policies, procedures, and practices that need to be addressed. Luckily, amending plans can be done quickly and easily. Here are some steps other companies have taken to improve their plans during this time.

1) Provide employees, suppliers, and stakeholders regular updates on what steps they can take to keep the virus from spreading within their facilities. If your company is global, you can share information and statuses of other locations internally to avoid employees seeking misinformation elsewhere.

2) Anticipate if operations are curtailed or the crisis extends longer than expected. Meet regularly with suppliers and others critical to your supply chain to make certain plans are in place. Constant collaboration can help secure business continuity for everyone involved.

3) Implement network “shifts” for employees who are working remotely to reduce the capacity of network utilization during peak periods. Additionally, ensure that employees have access to equipment and training needed to perform.

4) Consider how you can support employees who require childcare services when such services may not be available during the pandemic.

5) Keep your cyber, fraud prevention, and related defenses in full force. In every major crisis, predators significantly increase their attempts to hack networks, steal product, commit fraud against the enterprise, etc. Focus on network security and employee awareness.

6) Ensure that critical supplies such as hand sanitizers, masks (as appropriate), and related equipment is available as needed — or implement steps to get them soon . For essential employees who may need to be at the facility for extended periods of time, basic survival needs such as food, water, etc should be accessible.

7) Encourage local facilities to communicate regularly with local heath departments to stay abreast of infection rates and services available to the company and their employees. Providing these updates to the crisis management team.

8) Establish a work from home model with realistic expectations. Team communications, one-on-one meetings, “collaboration” spaces, and communication tools beyond email should be adopted to support roles and responsibilities. Managers should frequently meet with teams to measure morale and mental health.

9) Communicate HR policies regarding sick time, care of family, and/or bereavement during this time. If they differ from standard policies, widely communicate this change in information. Additionally, ensure that HR, health & safety teams, and security have a plan to assess employee health — mental and physical — during mandatory work from home in order to make decisions as appropriate.

10) Set up a schedule and plan for essential personnel that needs to be in the office. While not all offices are closed, the ones that are still have mail and supplies being delivered. Plan for who that person should be, as well as their backup in case of emergency or unexpected circumstances.

11) Keep preparations ready for when your company is ready to re-engage and there is clarity on key departments and leadership. This can touch a variety of areas, such as employees, supply chain, vendors, operations, etc.

12) Consider mutual aid to help support needs. Sharing resources and tools at an enterprise or community level can help lift the burden of having to source everything yourself. Strike up an agreement with other companies in the same geographical area or industry, so resources can be shared and help can be delivered on a broader level.

By implementing these steps, you can help your organization focus on key initiatives and getting through this time. During this critical time, contact our advisors to help identify and close the gaps in crisis management and business continuity planning.