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Business continuity planning for the Flu Pandemic

The darker nights are upon us. Winter coats are dusted out of the wardrobe and the winter duvet is waiting to be snuggled under … but this can only mean one thing. Flu season is in full charge. December through to February are said to be the peak months for the flu virus, and in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s never been a more important time for your business to be prepared with a robust Business Continuity Plan. 

If anyone had told you this time last year that a flu-like virus would have stopped the world in the way that Coronavirus has, you would never have believed them.  Yet here we are today, 11 months into a global pandemic that has had a considerable disruption on our businesses and daily lives.  We’ve got four important HR considerations that need to be included in your Business Continuity Plan to help keep your operations running and your employees safe during the flu season. 

  1. Safety of your people first

It is your responsibility as an employer to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your people. This means creating a safe environment from which to work from, taking all possible steps to minimise the spread of any type of flu virus. 

Engage in regular workplace assessments. A Covid-19 risk assessment will help you prevent transmission risk between employees and clients, including which staff should return to the physical workplace or work from home. You may also need reconfigure the workplace to keep a 2 metre distance between desks and include partitioning to minimise the spread of a virus. 

Keep a log of any incidents in a health and safety logbook, including who is self-isolating and who they have come into contact with during their time in the office. All inspections, training activities, incident investigations and first aid treatments should be logged in as well.

“Home is where the office is” 

We used to say Home sweet Home, but now it seems to be where the office is. Whether it’s long or short term, you need to equip your people will sufficient IT equipment and communications to work easily from home. This includes distributing laptops, if needed, and enabling Virtual Private Networks to coordinate remote access across secure devices. 

Cybercrimes have been on the rise since Covid-19, and working from home is becoming a gateway to new forms of data theft.  Work with your IT provider to ensure you have a robust infrastructure and adequate cyber security to protect your business regardless of where your staff are working from. 

Provide training for staff to help them recognise fraudulent emails, spam and phishing attempts that may pose a risk to your business. 

Refine your Leave and HR Policies

The Coronavirus pandemic has meant that businesses need to make changes to their sick leave and work-at-home policies consistent with new government guidelines.

As you review your HR policies, you should determine what changes are necessary and then make sure you communicate them to all employees, along with information about who will be in charge of implementing and supervising these policies.

Operating with decreased staff resources

Focus on how you plan to operate with decreased staff resources. Given that some staff could be self-isolating, working from home or are on sick leave, you may have to implement

flexible hours or staggered shifts/days to increase the distance between employees in order to get the same amount of work done, but with fewer resources. Working at home should be encouraged, and you have to determine which employees are eligible to do that and whether you have the infrastructure and collaborative tools to support this.

Succession planning is an important part of your Business Continuity Plan. If managers get ill and cannot work, you need to have back-up personnel to take over their duties. This may require additional training and should be considered for all critical positions. 

We’ve created a pack of five guidance documents, designed to help you maintain business operations and thrive during these uncertain times. It’s got everything you need from policy templates, essential checklists, and all the HR forms you’ll need to prepare for every eventuality. Download here >>

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