The old saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” can be applied to countless situations when running a business. There are so many things that a company’s C-suite and HR team must think about before it is too late. But one of the most crucial strategies that must be in place—but is often overlooked—is a business continuity plan.
With the rapid global spread of the coronavirus (2019-nCov) and resulting public panic in recent weeks, many companies are being forced to think about a business continuity plan. And while some initiatives will take time to implement, there are many things that can begin immediately. As another old adage goes, “Better late than never.”
So, what exactly is a business continuity plan, when is it needed, and what can you implement immediately?
What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a strategic roadmap that outlines how a business will continue operation during an unplanned disruption in service or emergency situation. When properly executed, a business continuity plan builds resiliency by protecting your business processes, employees, data, finances, and reputation. Ultimately, a BCP is designed to be temporary, but significant planning and resources are needed to ensure its success.
When is a business continuity plan needed?
Business continuity plans are crucial to maintaining operations during and immediately following any major business-interrupting event, including:
- Weather incidents, such as floods, hurricanes, and snowstorms
- On-premise incidents, including bomb threats, active shooters, and major accidents
- Tech breaches and cybersecurity events
- Pandemic events, as seen with the recent coronavirus outbreak
- Major changes in the chain of command, such as with a CEO’s death or sudden departure
What actions can businesses take now to combat coronavirus and better deal with its aftermath?
Disaster situations can also leave numerous questions about payroll, particularly paper checks. How will employees get paid during a business disruption that physically stops mail? Paycards are a growing alternative to more traditional forms of payroll payment. With paycards, employee payment is directly deposited onto a debit card without the need for a bank or check-cashing services. This not only eliminates multiple stages of person-to-person contact—which is how viruses like coronavirus spread— but also ensures your employees have access to their money when they need it most. Moreover, employees get paid even if the postal service shuts down.
While many companies already have at least some remote work policies in place, the original policies and scale may not be on the level that is needed for a pandemic like this. Remote work is not just letting employees work from home—guidelines and resources must be in place. What are the expectations of employees? What hours must they work? How will employees be held accountable? How will co-workers communicate with one another? Can meetings still be held remotely?
Reconsider travel policies
Going hand-in-hand with remote work, companies must reconsider—and perhaps restrict—current travel policies. In situations like this, travelers are often among the most vulnerable, whether they are travel to highly infected zones or not. While many companies do depend on traveling employees, the personal and professional risks are just not worth it. Many of the same resources used for remote work—video conferencing and team-based messaging software (such as Slack) and work management programs (like Asana) may work as temporary solutions to a travel ban.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. While it may seem silly on the surface, taking the time to educate employees about proper hygiene, cleaning, and additional preventative measures is important. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends:
- Frequently wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (not your hands), then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
Review employee health insurance plans
And finally, this is a perfect time to conduct some HR outreach to employees about their healthcare benefits. Provide an overview of current plans and answer any questions they may have to help put them at ease. Remind employees that resources are available to them and they should certainly take advantage of them.
As the world seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), businesses like yours are working diligently to remain in operation, adapt their policies, and ensure the safety of their employees. Netchex is here to help you accomplish all of this and more.