In the event of pandemic influenza, businesses will play a key role in protecting employees' health and safety as well as limiting the negative impact to the economy and society.
Planning for pandemic influenza is critical. As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.
Steps a business can take to maintain business continuity include the following:
- Check that existing contingency plans are applicable to a pandemic.
- In particular, check to see that core business activities can be sustained over several weeks.
- Plan accordingly for interruptions of essential governmental services like sanitation, water, power, and disruptions to the food supply.
- Identify your company's essential functions and the individuals who perform them. The absence of these individuals could seriously impair business continuity. Build in the training redundancy necessary to ensure that their work can be done in the event of an absentee rate of 25-30 percent.
- Maintain a healthy work environment by ensuring adequate air circulation and posting tips on how to stop the spread of germs at work. Promote hand and respiratory hygiene. Ensure wide and easy availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products.
- Determine which outside activities are critical to maintaining operations and develop alternatives in case they cannot function normally. For example, what transportation systems are needed to provide essential materials? Does the business operate on “just in time” inventory or is there typically some reserve?
- Establish or expand policies and tools that enable employees to work from home with appropriate security and network access to applications.
- Expand online and self-service options for customers and business partners.
- Tell the workforce about the threat of pandemic flu and the steps the company is taking to prepare for it. In emergencies, employees demonstrate an increased tendency to listen to their employer, so clear and frequent communication is essential.
- Update sick leave and family and medical leave policies and communicate withemployees about the importance of staying away from the workplace if they become ill. Concern about lost wages is the largest deterrent to self-quarantine.
Source: US government