A recent study by global consultancy firm, Mercer, has revealed that more than half the companies in the world do not have any sort of business continuity plans in place to deal with emergencies such as the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The report comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering that over the past two decades, the world has been faced by several high profile health emergencies, such as the Zika virus outbreak, Ebola, and SARS. Such health emergencies should have prompted businesses to set up elaborate continuity plans to ensure smooth operations to minimise the impact of such a crisis.

“Each year, new threats to business and human life have emerged, and the ability of organizations to prepare for the unforeseen and mitigate risks has become critical,” said Shanthi Naresh, Partner, India Business Leader at Mercer Career, India.

 

Only 24 percent of the companies polled are only now drafting a business continuity plan, the study showed.

92 percent of companies that do have a BCP in place have set remote working or working from home as their main crisis operation mode, which falls in line with may government advisories in many COVID-19 hotspots, the study added.

Such companies have also reduced non-essential travel, especially to areas highly affected by the virus. They’ve asked employees who have returned from travel to the affect areas to self-isolate, and have continued paying them for the duration of the quarantine.

With the COVID-19 outbreak still ongoing, businesses should really take the time to consider implementing some form of BCP in order to ensure operations can continue in some form. Failing to do so can be highly detrimental, or even fatal, to some businesses.

In addition, effective communication between departments is key. HR departments should pull together information pertaining to the coronavirus to create a ready-to-refer instructional guide for employees that not only educates them about the viral infection, but also enlists ways to avoid it.

The communication strategy should be multi-pronged and use all channels of communication available. Utilising tech as a communication tool to minimise human contact in such trying times would be an effective preventative measure as well.

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