March 15, 2020

Coronavirus: Crisis Management Strategy

The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has created a shocking socio-economic impact and continues to spread rapidly. The coronavirus outbreak developed fast, with over 150,000 cases and 5,000 deaths so far, and a fatality rate of around 2%. It is extremely difficult at this stage to accurately evaluate its full impact and the precautionary measures, including national emergencies and lockdowns, being implemented by governments and authorities worldwide.

It is of utmost importance however to maintain our individual and collective responsibility in line with the measures put in place and to join our efforts to help those in need.  Particularly the young and healthy should support the most vulnerable groups, including older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions.

How can we protect employees, clients and business operations?

Public and private organisations around the world need to continue taking the necessary precautions. We must act proactively through sustainable strategies, policies and procedures to protect current and future employees, clients and business operations.

Subject to the type of company or organisation involved, industry or sector in which it is active, and number of workplaces, premises or employees, an array of further plans could be put in place, as appropriate. Multinational companies in various industries and sectors are already experiencing the negative effects of the coronavirus.

Covid-19 can easily spread from coughing and sneezing, or by touching a contaminated surface or object and then nose or mouth. It is therefore suggested that employees who travelled quarantine according to country risk, stay home if they have respiratory symptoms or high temperatures, shield coughs and sneezes, and wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and water.

Given the increasing number of employees being unable to work, due to illness or caring for others, means they will be using their paid annual or sick leave as per the agreed employment terms. It is foreseeable that certain employees will ultimately require more than their applicable leave, therefore pre-emptive action must be taken.

Employees that are able to work remotely should now do so. Whereas, any scheduled face-to-face meeting could be avoided if possible to be held via conference call. Although many public events and conferences have already been and are expected to be cancelled, it remains to be seen subject to specific areas and local authorities. In any case, employers and employees should take the necessary precautions.

How is your business affected?

The international financial markets plummeted in ways not seen since the 2008 financial crisis, with increasing fears for a global coronavirus-downturn, lower consumer confidence and negative impact on business investment. Travel restrictions, factory closures and overall slowdown in economic activity have led to a collapse in oil prices since early March 2020. Extended factory shutdowns in China and the rest of the world have resulted in global supply-chain disruptions that will impact businesses everywhere. Consequently, operations processes transformation may be required on an emergency basis.

What does it mean for executive teams?

Entrepreneurs, directors and management teams must set the overall operational strategy to combat the effects of the virus. They must consider their businesses’ supply chain and, if not already, contact their suppliers and enquire about their risk exposure and contingency plans, in case of supply disruptions. The impact will be significantly different according to the industry or sector concerned. For instance, a substantially harder hit should be further expected particularly in the foreseeable future by businesses in the tourism, leisure, accommodation, and food and beverages sectors.

Therefore, appropriate risk assessment and mitigation measures as well as contingency plans must be evaluated and implemented as the case may be in order to keep your business operating. To this end, Health & Safety policies and procedures must also be adhered to keep a safe workplace. Given we are not yet aware of how detrimental the coronavirus effects will be nor how long they will last, sustainable strategies are required that will be assessed and updated on a consistent basis.

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