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How should our company manage a pandemic?

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IN THE LATE 1990s, people thought Regina Phelps, a crisis management consultant, was crazy when she added pandemic planning to her company’s list of services. Today, Phelps is a pandemic planner and founder of Emergency Management & Safety Solutions in San Francisco, where she advises companies like Whole Foods, Nike and Starbucks on crisis management plans, including possible pandemics.

Today we share four things Phelps advises that every business needs to do now for its employees, and to keep things under control.

Σ Know who’s sick. Phelps said companies need to know what is going on with their employees. Managers should be continuously checking in with their employees even while they are working from home, to see if they have any symptoms brewing or have gotten sick since leaving the office.

“If someone has COVID-19, you need to interview the employee to determine who they had contact with and then interview those people and send them home for 14 days,” Phelps says.

Σ Re-adjust workplace environments. If employees are not able to work from home, companies need to re-adjust workplaces for social distancing.

“So, we’re talking about [being] six feet apart,” Phelps says, “No handshaking and no face-to face meetings.”

Desks will likely need to be moved and areas that people touch need to be cleaned multiple times a day.

Employees will also need to eat spread out at least six feet apart.

Σ Deploy support services. Companies should be deploying all their Employee Assistance Program services to provide emotional support and counselling for employees.

“Many are going to be extremely uncomfortable, because for them this just happened overnight,” Phelps says.

In her experience, many people become frightened in chaotic times like this and feel very alone. So, it is important for companies to make their employees feel supported at and outside of work.

Σ Watch for Scammers. The bad guys like to come out in difficult times like this, Phelps says.

“There is a huge plethora of cyber attacks going on right now through really targeted phishing emails that are preying on people’s fears,” Phelps says.

She urges companies and consumers alike to look out for well-done articles that say, “click here, if you need to buy masks or hand sanitizer.”

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Source: Jade Scipioni, Pandemic Planner: 4 things companies should be doing right now for employees.

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