Most business disaster simulation and continuity planning centers on finite events with well delineated beginning and end points. Floods, fires and windstorms do their damage; then the cleanup begins in relatively short order. In contrast, the duration and impact of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is not clear. Uncertainty can lead to anxiety and a sense of helplessness for many people.
Helping employees understand that they do have control over their response to COVID-19 and that they can protect their health is key to minimizing fear — which, itself, is a highly contagious emotion — and maintaining emotional equilibrium. This is true for the business, too: Forming a plan, then taking steps to ensure continued operations and keep cognizant of how employees and customers respond to new workflows, provide positive focal points for business continuity.
One key to instilling a sense of control is ensuring your employees have access to frequently updated, high-quality science-based data about the virus. While information about the Coronavirus changes daily, many initial assertions are standing up to research. The biggest takeaway is people can protect themselves from the virus with simple, highly effective personal hygiene practices. Share these with your team by encouraging them to download these helpful graphic resources:
Being transparent about how the business will maintain operations also helps alleviate uncertainty. View your continuity plan as a living, breathing document; it’s possible that some of the operational changes you make to confront COVID-19 that demand new work processes and KPIs could become a new normal for your organization.
If you haven’t already, consider these specific tactics to confront COVID-19:
While this may seem obvious to some, it’s crucial to show your employees, partners and customers that you take their health seriously. Here’s a list of some steps you can take:
Companies that adopt measures such as increased videoconferencing and working from home may find many employees are more productive using these tools. Capture data so you’re fully aware of the impact of these measures. If you’re not seeing these effects already, you may note that the longer “temporary” measures go on, the more likely it is that they will have lasting effects on travel, training, budgeting, customer relations, etc. For example:
The aforementioned measures may calm and empower employees by providing an important feeling of control — we are not powerless against the virus. This is especially critical for companies with “service supply chains” heavily dependent on their employees’ emotional health and behavior.
The COVID-19 pandemic will require organizations to heighten their awareness, keeping a finger on the pulse of their people. This will enable leaders to experiment and study new ways of working that might inform future business continuity planning and affect operations and workflows once the virus’s impact diminishes.
While the COVID-19 endgame is not clear, giving teams tools to effectively manage its potential impact on their personal and professional lives will aid individual and organizational well-being. In the wake of this challenge, awareness and understanding of how your organization and people respond to change is a greater business capability than ever. Through frequent and transparent communication and proactive strategies for managing employee, customer and partner well-being, organizations can manage through the crisis and emerge prepared for whatever comes next.
The advice contained in this article was provided by Bryan Hill, Cognizant VP of Digital Health & Innovation; Robert Molina, AVP Cognizant Security Services; William Green, Founder, Managing Partner at TD International; and Dr. Michael Manyak, TDI’s medical advisor.
Visit our COVID-19 resources page for additional insights and updates.