COVID-19 has undoubtedly taken many companies on a speedy roller-coaster since the global outbreak. While there is a lot we still don’t know about this virus and its impact on global business, we have been given guidelines to follow for slowing down its spread from ensuring hand washing to working remotely.
The most critical step for human resource leaders in companies both big and small is to show empathy to employees and focus on developing and implementing a streamlined business continuity plan.
In this guide, we will discuss what business continuity planning should look like for human resources leaders and offer a checklist you and your organization can follow to ensure everyone is safe and your business runs as well as it can during this time.
What is Business Continuity Planning?
A business continuity plan is a guide book that lays out all of the possible steps and procedures your organization will follow to ensure a reasonable level of productivity, prevent long-term damages or impact, and recover quickly after a major disruption.
This document includes backup suppliers and vendors, emergency contacts, and remote work procedures. Catastrophes, pandemics, and natural disasters don’t have to take your business out completely if careful planning is discussed and implemented.
Business Continuity Management Framework for HR
As a human resources leader, creating a framework for your organization and the employees you serve helps everyone involved to handle some of the uncertainty that comes along with a disaster or pandemic like Coronavirus. Here is what your thought process should look like:
Assess potential business risks.
What happens to on-site employees? What technologies need to be in place for employees to stay connected? How will you make sure information is communicated accurately and timely?
Identifying all aspects of risk particularly with regard to the human capital impact within your organization and the technology being used is a critical part of planning. Communicating with your company’s IT department will be critical to keeping employees in the loop and understanding challenges when it comes to remote access and associated capabilities.
Coordinate necessary alternatives.
From a human resources perspective, employees and contractors are of utmost concern. Most will rightfully be concerned with job security. Do your best to answer these questions ahead of time by having alternatives in place so team members don’t have to worry more than they should.
Have a list of the people who need to know information first and plan for how you will reassure the rest of the staff. You can recover and operate at a decent capacity without the right people in place and everyone possessing a certain level of accurate knowledge about a situation.
When the entire team in your organization knows what the plan is and has had some level of input in putting it all together, they are more likely to ensure it is executed when the time comes. Don’t leave employees in the dark. Ask questions and listen to ensure all bases are covered.
Again, having a dynamic group of people talking about a pandemic plan for business continuity or any other action plan during a disaster will drive what gets done, who does what, and how it gets done.
Always bring clarity to the table
After you’ve received necessary feedback, put the business continuity plan in writing. A plan that is in writing helps to bring clarity to the entire company in the event of a pandemic or major disaster. Ask upper-level management to review the plan with their leaders and team members.
A pandemic plan for business continuity(1) is your guide book during a crisis. An HR business continuity plan should answer all of the critical questions that employees and leadership will have.
A good rule of thumb is to test your plan from time to time when there is not a crisis. Make adjustments and ensure it is as fool proof as possible. While you don’t have to shut down your business to do this, open floor discussions and talking through the plan can be effective for continuous improvement and flawless execution.
( Also Read: A Complete Guide On Human Resource Planning )
Business Continuity Plan Checklist
Here are the top four things you should cover on your human resources business continuity plan checklist:
Are you prepared?
This section should include everything from procedures and processes to identifying potential threats. Additionally, it should include succession planning in the event of personnel loss of life.
Formal policies around emergency and crisis response activities, drills, and training should be included. Technology should also play a major role here as well with regard to how the organization can stay informed.
Are you safe?
It is critical for HR leaders to put the safety of employees first and foremost. When personnel safety is at risk, its impact ripples throughout families and households for generations.
Do your due diligence to take into account the well-being of team members, from upper management to those at the lowest levels of the organization. Communication is critical when transmitting information about safety and job and financial security.
Do you have the right access?
This is a very important one. Depending on what industry you work, it is important to work with your IT department to ensure the entire organization can access their work from anywhere. Have a list of what your employees might need to work outside the office.
Cloud access, project management tools, network solutions and connectivity are all part of the process to ensure personnel are working where and when they can during a pandemic or other disaster.
Can you communicate effectively?
Communication is more critical now than ever when you’re in a crisis. Your communication plan should include steps to follow before, during and after a crisis has happened. Ensure all team members’ information is updated and available to you.
Create a way for all personnel to be able to communicate with you or key members on your team. Keep in mind that mobile devices and other electronics alone may not always be the most effective way to communicate. Having a central location for communication can be helpful.
These are just a few questions that your team members will likely ask in cases such as COVID-19 and other crises and disasters. Thinking into the future is critical for success as an HR leader.
- Who should I contact in case of emergency?
- How will remote work be assigned and what are the procedures?
- Will I still be paid?
- I am an hourly worker, what happens to my job?
- Is there an off-site recovery location?
- Will I have access to my work in the cloud?
- Can I take equipment from the office?
- How is technological security being ensured?
- I’m new to the company. Will I still be onboarded?
- Have my KPIs changed as I now have to focus on family needs more?
It is no longer enough to tell your organization that you have a plan. HR leaders must be proactive in putting people first, collaborating with different departments, adapting to changing and communicating effectively in a quickly changing and fluid environment.