May 5th, 2020
What do you see the business community focusing on coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown with regards to moving forward and what changes you do foresee being implemented with the ‘new business norm’?
COUVA POINT LISAS CHAMBER
Mr Ramchamd Rajbal Maraj – President
To reduce the impact of a COVID pandemic on business operations, employees, customers, and the general public, it is important for businesses to immediately begin continuity planning for the period of the pandemic and following. Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges posed by the pandemic with insufficient resources and employees who might not be adequately trained in the jobs they will be asked to perform. Proper planning will allow employers to better protect their employees and prepare for changing patterns of commerce and potential disruptions in supplies or services. Business objectives during a local pandemic influenza should be to:
- Reduce transmission of the pandemic virus strain among employees, customers/clients, and partners.
- Minimize illness among employees and customers/clients.
- Maintain mission-critical operations and services.
Minimize social disruptions and the economic impact of a pandemic.
Employees and co-workers are a business’ most valuable asset. Employees often know portions of the business better than the employer. Seek them out and involve them in the planning process. Involving employees early in the planning process will help keep them engaged and motivated, which can lead to a more effective emergency plan for your business. Employees will know and understand the plan as it is developed and will be able to share the planning message throughout the business.
This period is the ideal time to start business continuity planning. The implications of pandemic influenza are diverse and significant. Businesses should develop plans and internal trigger points for their pandemic response actions based on the alert phase changes. Identify a business continuity plan coordinator and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities for developing the continuity plan. A pandemic can affect many areas of business.
Consider including key employees from the various business services/functions, such as accounting, payroll, shipping and receiving, marketing and sales, health and safety, security, and communications. When an emergency occurs, they’ll be better able to help manage the business through the crisis. Get input from others including legal and labor representatives, customers/clients, and suppliers.
The businesses continuity plan should address how the business will:
- Operate with minimal face-to-face contact between employees, customers, and suppliers
- Operate effectively if key employees are absent from work
- Operate if supply chains are disrupted. Decide how/when to activate alternate suppliers and how/when to activate alternate delivery means to customers
- Coordinate your business continuity plan with suppliers and customers.
- Assess and propose pandemic response policies and actions to initially protect and sustain all employees, their family members, customers, clients, and the public, and then more specifically for the business’ essential employees.
- Ensure availability of medical consultation and advice for potentially ill employees and their families and for emergency response. Encourage and track annual influenza vaccination for employees.
- Train new reserve employees and appropriate employee family members.
- Establish flexible worksite (e.g., telecommuting) and work-time policies. Establish policies to limit influenza spread at the worksite.
- Establish infection control policies (e.g., immediate mandatory sick leave) for sick employees, and reassign employees who are at high risk to develop influenza-related complications.
- Establish policies restricting travel to affected domestic and international areas, evacuating employees working in or near affected areas, and providing guidance to employees returning from affected areas.
- Train managers and educate employees on policies and procedures.
- Identify and assess issues for supporting employees’ family care when possible and with appropriate privacy protections.
- Develop pandemic education and information sharing processes targeted for employees’ families. Integrate protocols and technologies into emergency communications.
- Ensure sensitivity to employee privacy on any information gathered. Identify essential employees who are dual-income working parents or single, head of household parents.
- Assess the number of employees with school-age children or other dependents at home. Review the number of employees and their families who rely solely on public transportation.
- Consider the availability of social and community services support.
- Plan for grief counseling and psychiatric care.
- Continuous practice of Social Distancing, hand sanitizing and of masks must be compulsory.