5 Crisis Response Tips for Business Owners: How to Navigate The COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals, families, and businesses all over the world. With mandatory closures for schools and restaurants, as well as new public health guidelines for self-quarantine, companies are scrambling to find ways to operate during this national emergency.
Business owners can help prepare their businesses and employees for COVID-19 and similar crises by following these 5 crisis response tips:
Employees look to their leaders during times of crisis. Therefore, employers should remain calm and try their best to mitigate fears. Only share information from credible sources. Keep employees, clients, and customers updated on the situation and the measures you are taking to keep everyone safe. Address concerns with empathy and flexibility as they arise.
Re-evaluate Sick Leave Policies
Employers should ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and in accordance with public health recommendations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that employers encourage sick employees to stay home and advises against requiring a healthcare provider’s note for employees to validate their illness. Employers should understand that more employees may need to stay home to care for themselves or sick family members.
Identify Essential Business Functions and Employees
Business owners should identify functions that the company must have operating each day, and consider how they can be covered using alternative practices. Business owners should also identify employees who cannot be easily replaced on short notice and prepare other employees to take on their tasks should they become ill. Cross-train employees to perform essential job functions, communicate with other offices within in the company to see if they can assist, identify alternative suppliers, and consider temporarily suspending certain non-essential operations.
Prepare for Remote Working
Employers should acknowledge that increasingly more employees may need to work from home. Therefore, employers should ensure that employees have adequate access to computers, phones, and internet, as well as the necessary systems and software to perform job functions remotely. Additional capabilities may need to be provided in order to ensure that employees can work remotely, such as company-issued computers and phones, new video conferencing accounts, and software and apps to be downloaded on employees’ personal computers.
Establish a Formal Work from Home Policy
While it is important to trust employees to do their jobs even when they are not being watched, business owners should not assume that employees know how to effectively work from home. Employers should identify the technology and software that they would like employees to use, provide instructions for how to operate the technology, and ensure that there are protocols in place for computer security, employee time tracking, etc. Employers should also create formal remote working agreements, have clear agendas for employees to follow from home, outline explicit expectations, and schedule meetings via video conference to answer questions, address concerns, and reiterate expectations.