The coronavirus (COVID-19) has shifted the way employers prepare for global crises impacting their businesses and have come to learn the ins and outs of what to expect in terms of workplace disruptions. Stemming from COVID-19, many employers found themselves asking many questions related to running their business, HR and legal liabilities and legislation, and addressing non-work-related circumstances resulting from such crisis.
Preparing for such crisis by implementing adequate communication, increasing employee safety, adapting employee HR policies, and researching all available options can make a difference for businesses in these difficult situations.
Maintaining Consistent Communication
The first and most important component of crisis response is having a communication process in place. Developing a communication process includes a lead employee to delegate what needs to be communicated, how to best communicate with internal and external audiences, and creating appropriate content to distribute.
The first step in the communication process should be acknowledging the crisis at hand and the plan to address all the workplace disruptions that have occurred or may arise in the future. Gather straightforward, fact-based information, such as information released by public health and/or government agencies, resources, and relevant updates, and distribute to your employees so they are aware of available resources for information and personal and professional assistance.
The next is to ensure periodic updates on the developing situation. These updates can be distributed in real time, or weekly (or as frequently needed). In these updates, it is also important to communicate business continuity plans. This can provide peace of mind for employees seeking answers on the current situation.
Other communication that can be beneficial in these situations include addressing crisis-related stressors, such as high-risk family members or employees, children out of school, layoffs or terminations, and mental health issues. It is critical for businesses to emphasize employees’ well-being as a priority.
Maximizing Employee Safety
Some businesses are considered essential and must remain open during health crises like COVID-19, including health care service providers, financial providers, and gas stations. Being in the public face of a global health crisis is stressful for both employers and employees alike. It is imperative for employers to maximize employee safety through proper workplace sanitation. Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces or items, such as doorknobs, conference tables, desks, computers, as well as implementing CDC recommendations like staggered shifts, six-foot distance between individuals, and proper handwashing and sneezing/coughing practices.
Modifying Employee HR Policies
A common question employers ask in this type of situation pertains to legal liabilities involving sick leave, layoffs and terminations, and workplace safety. Certain health crisis situations require employers to revise or temporarily modify their employee policies regarding these topics. Employee policies should include straightforward explanations of sick leave, FMLA, ADA, short-term disability, and unemployment requirements and processes. It can be beneficial to have a crisis response team of HR, legal, and/or benefit specialists to address these types of questions and processes in the event of such situation. Other considerations to employee policies might include remote work arrangements and policies adjusted to address such working conditions.
Global health crises undoubtedly cause workplace disruptions, but it is how employers can prepare for them that makes a difference. Sometimes, as the COVID-19 situation has shown, these types of situations take the world by surprise. QBS has provided COVID-19 resources, an informative webinar addressing government relief programs, and remained diligent in staying up to date on the latest updates regarding the evolving situation. QBS cares about the well being of employers and employees, as well as finding innovative solutions to help businesses survive this unfortunate global health crisis.
Contact QBS today to see how we can assist you with workplace disruptions during the pandemic, or other business needs. We are here for you!