It is important for all businesses big and small to have a Business Continuity plan/program to plan for those events that disrupt business as usual. One important concept to remember is that even though there is a plan for the business, it revolves around people. The Business Continuity Plan is only as good as the people who invoke it or put it into action.
This became all the more evident in recent events surrounding COVID-19. Pandemic planning, part of the business continuity plan, had to plan around schools and childcare centers shutting down. It had to take into account the human element of allowing time for employees to care for sick family members or childcare. Time for them to quarantine themselves or deal with the ramifications of a loved one quarantined.
This is where team collaboration works best. Work with HR to explore options or address issues already identified. This will include being flexible and thinking outside the box. Some strategies could include remote working, PTO strategies to include caring for a sick family member or childcare. Creating policies that promote telecommuting, flexible workplace strategies and staggered shifts. It is important to work with staff and show flexibility in how they get work done.
Get creative. Maybe that means working during non-traditional hours. You do not know what each specific scenario is going to bring, try to be avoid sticking to a rigid plan or schedule. Allow yourself to be flexible and to adapt to the situation.
Help staff identify the unique role they play in the business continuity plan and the need for cross-training and testing. Cross-training ensures that if one person is out, other staff will know how to perform the same job. One way to accomplish this could be to identify each key role and list alternate staff who can perform the tasks should the need arise. And then test it and build on those lessons learned from testing.
Through all this, the primary focus is on building your business resilience. COVID-19 is playing havoc with how businesses go about their day-to-day activities. The right level of flexibility will enable you to maintain operations even as your normal protocols evolve. And when you keep the human element in mind, your employees will feel appreciated and acknowledged and in turn will work hard to keep your business going.
Danielle Caliendo MPA, CBCP