How to Prepare your Business for a Pandemic
The latest Coronavirus (officially dubbed COVID-19) has many around the world thinking, “What if?” What if COVID-19 became a true pandemic - how would that affect us here in the US? How would that impact business and the economy as a whole?
Lucky for us, the world’s best scientists and medical professionals are on the case, working quickly to curtail the spread of the virus that originated in China. Meanwhile, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) stood up a website dedicated to the latest information on the virus.
But that doesn’t mean that we are off the hook when it comes to prevention. As employers, we all have a responsibility to prevent the spread of any virus whether it’s the common flu or something as serious as COVID-19.
There are several areas in which business owners and leaders need to create plans in case of an outbreak: impact on your business; impact on employees and customers; policies to implement during a pandemic; resources for your employees and customers; communication and education; and coordination with external organizations. Thankfully, the CDC has created a checklist for large businesses so that none of us need to reinvent the wheel.
Don’t Wait For an Emergency
Yet we don’t have to wait for a pandemic to strike before instilling formal and informal policies to keep employees, customers, and partners out of harm’s way. For instance, communicating to employees that it’s not only acceptable but preferred that they stay home when ill helps to keep a virus from spreading through the company.
Companies might also limit travel - even ahead of any travel bans - to reduce employee exposure to potential outbreaks. Employers might also consider proactive measures such as on-site flu shots, or educational lunch-and-learn events.
Depending on your business model, employers may need to consider options to backfill sick employees temporarily if their role is considered critical to the business. From temp agencies to outsourcing, there are resources that could step in if necessary.
The COVID-19 outbreak does have one upside - it’s a great wakeup call for business owners and leaders to ensure they have a response plan in place and have designated key employees to step into emergency response roles if necessary. It may also be necessary to hold educational meetings with employees with the help of your company’s health insurance provider to alleviate any fears stirred by the outbreak.
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