05 Mar What Employers Can Do to Confront Coronavirus
The spread of the novel coronavirus disease known officially as COVID-19 is disrupting businesses across the globe.
Supply chains are slowing down in all kinds of industries. Hundreds of trade conferences and more than 200,000 flights around the world have been canceled since the virus erupted in China late last year. And the U.S. stock market saw its biggest drop since the 2008 financial crisis on fears of a business slowdown.
Small businesses, in particular, could feel the biggest impact because they typically operate on very tight profit margins and have smaller staffs to be able to withstand a prolonged disruption.
“Small and medium-sized businesses that are the heart and soul of this country are the ones that are going to be the hardest hit,” Hitendra Chaturvedi, a supply chain management expert who teaches at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, told Yahoo Finance.
However, health authorities say there is no need to panic. And there are concrete steps that businesses and organizations can take right now to ensure the safety of their employees and the general public.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published an excellent guide to help businesses and employers minimize the spread of coronavirus and other acute respiratory illnesses. Here are the CDC’s top strategies:
Encourage sick employees to stay home: Anybody with a fever above 100.4° F should be required to stay away from the workplace until there are no signs of fever for at least 24 hours. Give employees a lot of flexibility to stay home if they feel sick (such as not requiring a doctor’s note). You might also consider allowing for a more generous paid sick leave policy to encourage employees to stay home when they’re sick or to take care of family members who are sick.
Have plenty of cleaning supplies available: Stock your common areas and bathrooms with hand sanitizer, hand soap, facial tissue and paper towels. Encourage employees to use proper cough and sneeze etiquette (for example, shielding coughs and sneezes with a tissue, elbow or shoulder, not hands). Remind employees to wash their hands frequently.
Perform routine environmental cleaning: Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs. Have disposable wipes available for employees to wipe down desks, keyboards, remote controls, touchscreens and instruments after each use.
Be smart about traveling: Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and restrictions, especially if employees are considering international travel. Many companies are restricting their employees from all non-essential business travel, even to domestic destinations, and holding meetings by videoconferencing instead. Some firms, such as Twitter, are “strongly encouraging” employees to work from home.
Have contingency plans in place
Every business should have a plan in the event of an emergency or disaster. (See our recent blog post on ‘Resiliency in a Box’ to learn how to better prepare your business for a possible disaster.)
While the coronavirus continues to spread, be prepared for increased employee absenteeism. Cross-train workers so that business disruptions can be minimized. Be prepared to change your business practices to maintain mission-critical operations (for example, identifying alternate suppliers or vendors, hiring temporary workers, and cutting back on non-essential business tasks and customer services).
Frequent and measured communication is critical to avoid panic. Keep employees well-informed about your emergency plans and any changes to policies or operations so there are no surprises. Share information from credible sources such as the CDC to remind employees to pay attention to their health and hygiene.
What Good360 is doing to help
Good360 is carefully monitoring developments related to the spread of COVID-19. We have been working closely with international organizations and corporate partners to identify areas where we can contribute aid in the form of product donations. For example, we distributed $32,000 worth of Grainger N95 masks to medical workers in China.
Good360’s nonprofit partners, including International Federation of the Red Cross, Project Hope, International Medical Corps have identified the following immediate product needs:
- N95 surgical masks
- Tyvek coveralls
- Face shields
- Shoe covers
- Nitrile gloves
- Boots (Kevlar and similar products)
- Hand sanitizer
We are currently focused on the domestic response to this health crisis and are coordinating with our corporate partners on the best way to respond and provide support in this rapidly evolving situation. The UPS Foundation and American Eagle Outfitters have provided support to Good360 to enable us to respond in the most effective and strategic way possible.
If you represent a company that is considering giving aid in response to coronavirus, please contact Jim Alvey, Good360’s Director of Partnerships for Disaster Recovery, at firstname.lastname@example.org.