In an unfolding situation like COVID-19, it can feel very much like bracing yourself for battle with an unknown enemy. Each day the parameters are changing, the borders are closing and the enemy is drawing nearer.
So much of your planning success will depend on the ‘human response’, that is, how you treat your people during this time when they need you the most.
Your actions as a business now will impact your people relationships indefinitely but will also provide many opportunities to build trust. Consider the possibilities…what if this was the first time as a leadership team you’d come together, and empowered your HR teams, who are often in the background, to lead the charge?
Whether it’s COVID-19 or another emerging crisis, there are five key focus areas that should shape the backbone of your planning process.
1. Dust off the Business Continuity Plan
Revisit your business continuity plan (BCP) and check to see if you have a response to something like a virus in there. If not, you need to develop one, starting with defining the rights and responsibilities of the various stakeholders in this response. For example, what do managers have to do, what do directors have to do, what do employees have to do? This is critical to the framework of the response and managing risk going forward.
Next, set up a BCP team by establishing a core group that represents all functions and departments across your organisation. This group should meet daily to achieve two key priorities:
• Facilitate two-way information sharing; and
• Undertake scenario planning and workshop of solutions to respond as things change
Note, where a business is unionised, you would include a union member on that BCP team.
2. Scenario Planning
Imagine if this crisis gave you permission to change your approach, to create trust in your leadership team and overall to emerge as a better organisation.
Run in parallel to stage one, engage your finance people in scenario planning around the economic impact on the organisation, the cost implications (organisational and customer-centric), and opportunity identification. Considerations in this phase might include: renegotiation of contracts, creating ‘peace of mind’ communications, and allocating additional resources in areas that need them most.
3. Human Planning
This phase is focused on the protective measures, communication of the plan, and new pay and working arrangements. Considerations in this implementation phase might include: monitoring and management of rapidly changing health advice, flexible or remote working arrangements, travel bans, leave entitlements and changes to pay, or impacts on bonus schemes and share plans.
Planning should not only cover policies and legislation but also consider support mechanisms for the psychological health and wellbeing of team members.
In establishing the overall remuneration impact, all initiatives implemented should be tested by your BPC team during scenario planning. Data is key to supporting decision making here.
4. IT Structures and Controls
Creating an IT plan now is critical. Your information systems teams will play a crucial role in facilitating remote workability and ensuring core systems have the necessary controls in place to support this style of work.
What you should expect in these challenging times, is the infiltration of the virus not only in reality but also virtually in the form of phishing emails and cyber-attacks on systems. Hackers in parts of the world not yet impacted by COVID-19 know you are in a weakened position and are very active. Emails disguised and headed by trusted sources will become prevalent, e.g., ‘click here for the latest update on Coronavirus from the Department of Health.”
5. Uncovering the Opportunities
Opportunity planning is very specific to industry and is all about the legacy you want to leave as an employer and member of the business community. Using this crisis to gain employee trust is your first massive opportunity, but there will be others specific to your industry that you could take advantage of.
Considerations in this phase might include: What can be done online? Can we move planned maintenance activities forward that were going to be done later? How can we supply the BCP team with really good information and good scenarios that they can work through?
Every business will have opportunities, not only in people management but also in timing and infrastructure.
We’re here to help!
BDO Malta is here to support you and your business through these unprecedented times. To find out more about how we can assist your business towards recovery, please contact us on [email protected] or: