At a time when most countries are struggling with the pandemic, the role of business in this scenario is critical.
As key players in the economy, corporate social responsibility is about good business management and, above all, ensuring the safety and proper organization of all employees.
At present, companies are facing a number of strategic and operational risks, such as delays or interruptions in the supply of raw materials; changes in customer demand; increases in costs; logistical reductions leading to delays in deliveries; problems in protecting the health and safety of employees; insufficient manpower; or difficulties related to import and export trade.
Based on an analysis of the main business practices, in terms of business continuity planning and emergency management, we set out 5 measures to deal with this pandemic situation with guarantees:
1. Establish emergency decision-making teams in pandemic situation.
All companies should have an “Emergency Response Team” that sets the strategy and outlines the objectives of the emergency plan, ensuring that decisions are made as quickly and accurately as possible.
This group should also evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the company and its professionals to adjust processes in times of crisis.
2. Assess risks and establish emergency response mechanisms
Many multinational companies have established “contingency plans for emergencies” or “business sustainability plans”, which are usually implemented immediately in the event of a major emergency.
If a company does not have such a plan, it should conduct a comprehensive assessment of all risks immediately, looking at the company’s human capital, sub-contractors, supply chain, customers and the public sector (governments).
According to the risk assessment, the company should respond to issues related to office space, production plans, procurement, supply and logistics, staff security and financial capital, as well as organize other relevant aspects related to emergency plans and division of labour.
3. Establish a reporting mechanism positive for employees, customers and suppliers, and create standardized communication documents.
It is necessary to maintain a fluid communication with both internal and external publics, as well as to reinforce customer services. In this way we will avoid negative public opinion.
At the same time, the information system established in the company must be used to collect, transmit and analyse information on epidemics and to issue immediate risk warnings.
4. Maintain the physical and mental well-being of employees
According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, 82% of companies say that flexibility at work is currently the most important means of managing professionals.
It is recommended that companies establish mechanisms for holidays and flexible working, using the technical and technological means available to establish non-presential working methods during extraordinary periods.
In addition, the company should establish a system for monitoring the health of employees and maintaining personal information on the health of employees with a full guarantee of confidentiality.
The company must ensure the safety of working environments by cleaning and disinfecting these spaces, complying with the hygiene management requirements of national and regional public health authorities for periods of serious infectious disease.
The company should reinforce education on epidemic safety, establish proven guidelines for employee self-protection and increase awareness of safety and risk prevention.
5. Focus on response plans for risks generated in the supply chain.
Companies usually have sufficient raw materials and different channels of acquisition to avoid having to stop production or restart it once the quarantine period has passed.
In managing inventories, organizations must take into account factors such as consumption blockages, the corresponding increase in financial costs and pressure on cash flow.
At the same time, in industries with long production cycles, organizations should prepare in advance for a rebound in consumption when the epidemic has subsided, to avoid the risk of insufficient inventory.