Five considerations for pandemic event preparedness

Organizations have a significant role in protecting the health and safety of their employees and limiting the impact of a potential crisis to their business operations, employees, customers and the public. It is critical to quickly protect your overall business operations through a rapid response initiative and a robust organizational resilience program. Below are the Top 5 considerations businesses should be working on today, along with sample recommendations for how to proceed.

  1. Employee health and safety: Employees are more likely to assist the organization during a disruption or pandemic event once they and their families feel protected, with a plan in place.
  • Implement employee health education activities that address steps to prevent transmission, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, emotional self-care, etc.;
  • Implement procedures for monitoring and managing employee health at the workplace and readiness to continue to support business operations;
  • Develop and strengthen partnerships with local emergency medical services and public health agencies.
  1. Internal and external communications: It is important to establish clear, concise and timely procedure(s) for internal and external communications before, during and after any disruption, including a pandemic event.
  • Distribute employee communications to aid in managing expectations and minimize the spread of misinformation;
  • Limit distribution of external communications to senior leadership to ensure your organization speaks with a single voice.
  1. Supply chains and critical inputs and outputs: Global supply chains are regularly challenged and disrupted by the rapid unpredictability of global pandemic issues such as the coronavirus. Many organizations possess outsourced manufacturing functions connected to global distribution networks that would be severely impacted should a pandemic event occur.
  • Contact key suppliers or contractors and find out what types of contingency plans they may have in place;
  • Revisit existing customer-negotiated contract terms to determine potential impacts and penalties of delayed orders or delivery shortages;
  • Conduct risk assessments to determine your most vulnerable suppliers and determine if an alternative supply is needed;
  • Develop contingency plans for unavailability of supplies and inputs;
  • Remodel long-term sales and demand forecasts to determine economic viability of your major product lines.
  1. Business continuity and survival strategies: Business continuity planning is essential to protecting an organization and will ensure a system is in place for prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company.
  • Identify and prioritize essential and nonessential business processes and functions;
  • Conduct an assessment of the potential impact of a pandemic event on your organization (e.g., financial, transportation, power, food, sanitation).
  1. Public and media relations: A strong public-facing communications platform is paramount to ensure your clients and consumers are properly informed.
  • Identify key spokespersons and media strategies and consider drafting news release templates for separate phases of the pandemic event;
  • Consider implementing a quality assurance process to ensure accuracy and timeliness of communications;
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance on crisis communications and working with the media.

Mike Fried is a principal at Mazars USA.

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