It’s not business as usual – How to get through the coronavirus pandemic

Wednesday April 15, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has created rapidly changing living and working conditions in Australia. Understandably, it has caught many off-balance – especially after a devastating bushfire season.

We’re all in active crisis management mode which brings to light the importance for a business to have a business continuity plan. This is a plan that documents what steps you will take during an unexpected event (usually fire, flood, theft, IT system crash etc.) to keep your business running and maintaining cash flow.

It’s not business as usual

If there’s one sure thing we know right now, it’s that everything has changed. Social distancing measures have meant the closure of many businesses or (for retailers in particular) limitations on the number of customers allowed on-site. There’s also the challenge of having staff working together in offices and on location (e.g. on building sites).

Agility and flexibility are key for both employers and employees.

Employees may need additional support or flexible working arrangements to accommodate parenting or carer responsibilities. They may also need to work from home where possible to reduce health risks.

This means you’ll need to take into consideration your legal requirements to ensure the health and safety of your employees and to consider the risks associated with their roles. Work health and safety aren’t confined to containing the spread of COVID-19. They include your employees’ working from home environment and their well-being.

Other operational impacts could include things like travel bans, interruptions to your business’ supply chain, data security or increasing costs.

When preparing your business continuity plan, you’ll need to consider:

  • What could affect your business?
  • How the impact will be felt?
  • What alternatives could you put in place? For instance, could meetings be moved online, do staff need you to provide equipment so they can work from home?

Communication is key

Having a plan is one thing. It’s essential to communicate it to employees. Even though you are probably feeling overwhelmed yourself, it’s important to make communicating with your staff a priority.

Ensure any changes are communicated clearly and rapidly. Even if you don’t have all the answers straight away, at least tell your staff you’re working on a solution. Don’t leave your team guessing! It will only add to their uncertainty and anxiety.

Managing finances

There’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the bottom line of many businesses, with cash flow taking a huge hit.

Therefore, you need to consider what changes you can make to manage your business finances this year. This includes:

  • Setting up a cash flow statement to help identify changes to cash flow early
  • Updating your budget to take the current challenges into account
  • Speaking to your creditors and your accountant or the ATO to see what additional support may be available to you through the various government initiatives

Review your recruitment and HR plans

There’s also no doubt the current health emergency will impact your HR and recruitment plans. For a few industries, there’s a need for more staff to resource increases in demand. For many, the focus will need to be on resizing their workforce or reducing hours.

Whatever your business situation, it’s essential to go back and adjust your plans based on the changes taking place. This will ensure your recruitment goals remain realistic based on the current risks and environmental impacts.

You may also need to review what actions you need to take regarding your employee obligations. A forced temporary closure may require you to assess flexible working opportunities, split rosters, or whether standing down employees is an option.

Advice and support

While ensuring you have a business continuity plan in place can help during a crisis, the current situation can still raise many unanswered questions and challenges. We are here to help. Contact us for advice and support because together, we can work towards mitigating your HR risks and finding effective and legal solutions.

Preventing People Problems

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