Businesses need to know how to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and have a strategy in place for minimising the risk of employees contracting the virus and spreading it in the workplace.
Education and communication are key: containing the virus relies on every single person understanding the risks and steps they personally can take to keep everyone healthy. This is particularly important when it comes to protecting higher risk members of staff, such as those with a long-term health condition, who are pregnant or who already have respiratory issues.
Building your team
Whether you’re a small business or multinational, the first important step in preparing your organisation is to identify the key people in your business responsible for monitoring the outbreak and preparing and implementing your response.
As well as the HR team and senior business leaders, think about including people who lead customer service, external communications and facilities management.
Make sure that you have up-to-date contact information for all members of your COVID-19 group and consider adding additional communication channels such as a workplace messaging group on Slack or Microsoft Teams or even a WhatsApp group to make sure these key people can be contacted outside the office if necessary.
Making key decisions
Once you have your team in place, you’ll need to assess your current level of preparedness.
If your organisation has a business continuity plan, this is a good starting point for looking at what processes and resources you already have in place to cope with the unexpected.
As a group, you’ll then need to think about coronavirus-specific scenarios, how you would respond and any capability gaps.
Use the response plan template in our free Employer Guide to COVID-19 to map out your organisation’s response to a series of possible scenarios, such as:
A member of staff:
- Comes into contact with someone suspected of having coronavirus
- Returns from an infected area
- Is due to visit affected areas
- Has been diagnosed with coronavirus
- Multiple members of staff diagnosed with coronavirus
Depending on your business, there may be additional scenarios to consider. You’ll also need to consider whether changes need to be made to some of your policies, particularly business travel, sick leave and remote working policies.
With government advice being updated on a daily basis, you also need to consider who is responsible for communications and how you will regularly update your workforce in order to help keep your employees informed, healthy and safe.
For more information on creating a response plan, download our Employer Guide.