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Preparing your Business for a Pandemic

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pandemics have led to high levels of illness, death, social disruption and economic loss.  The first step a business can take to prepare for a pandemic is to create or update a business continuity plan.  It must address a range of issues that includes planning for disasters and be integrated into business processes.

When planning specifically for a pandemic, your business needs are unique, so you'll need to conduct a risk-management assessment on your own operations to ensure continued operation. 

When preparing for a pandemic, an organization should:

  • Minimize business disruptions by identifying critical processes and functions that must continue for the business to remain viable
  • Review how it works with employees, customers, consumers, contractors, the media, etc.
  • Determine if it has the infrastructure it needs to run operations with up to 40 percent of the staff out ill or caring for sick family members
  • Consider building up inventories in case foreign or domestic suppliers and transport services are interrupted
  • Evaluate critical suppliers and customers and develop a contingency plan for how you'll operate if they aren't available
  • Allow employees to telecommute if their jobs allow it in order to keep people apart and limit the spread of the disease
  • Develop strategies for communicating with employees, customers, consumers and the media
  • Consider expanding its online business opportunities
  • Promote awareness of the problems associated with pandemic flu
  • Review sick leave and disability leave policies as well as any government-mandated leave policies
  • Encourage healthy employees to come to work and ill employees to stay home
  • Make backup plans if people need to be pulled out of countries where the epidemic strikes
  • Consider travel restrictions for employees to affected areas where the virus is active
  • Stock up on masks and sanitizers
  • Consider staggering work hours to limit the size of gatherings

Regardless of the size of your company, business continuity planning is a must.  A business continuity plan's success lies in the ability to accurately review its capabilities and identify potential hazards.

Click here to download our Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist.