Moving into the second quarter of 2020, no one expected the whole world to be struck with a pandemic.
No one could have predicted that countries would go into lockdown, businesses will have to move online to survive, and employees would have to work from home for months.
Some businesses struggled to keep up, while others had a smooth transition.
Fast forward to the present, things are gradually getting back to normal. Businesses have started operating as usual and employees are going back to their offices.
But are you prepared in the case of another pandemic – or a natural or technological crisis? How would you manage another similar situation?
Here’s what you can do to be prepared in the future:
Build a crisis plan
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
In the event of an emergency or a crisis, it’s best to have a plan that serves as a guideline for your team. This can ensure that your company continues to function optimally with minimum friction.
There are a few steps to creating a comprehensive crisis plan.
Start with risk assessment. This is where you identify how serious the situation is and how your business will be affected. Calculate the expected loss or increase of income and additional expenses.
Next, analyse your actions when the recent lockdown was announced. What were the changes that you had to implement immediately? What did you have to change? What were some of the challenges that you faced?
Having a comprehensive crisis plan is important to provide peace of mind and confidence to your employees so they know they can handle any emergency that arises.
Train employees to perform under minimum supervision
In the event of a crisis or an emergency, employees need to know what exactly to do and how to do it.
Employees should also be able to continue performing their jobs as usual – given that they all have the necessary resources.
Each of them should be clear about their tasks and be able to perform under minimum or no supervision.
Don’t train your employees in a way that they are dependent on their team leaders and are afraid to make decisions by themselves. Empower them to work independently.
Perform crisis management drills regularly
All your employees should be familiar with your crisis plan.
Employees should have all the information they need about immediate action plans and recovery strategies. They shouldn’t be stressed out or panicked.
Your business crisis plan should be stored in a place where any employee can easily access it at any given time.
Many companies who thought “work-from-home” is not for them managed to make it work in the last few months.
As an organisation, you should practice working remotely with your team at least once a month or so. This will ensure a smooth transition in the event that employees have to work from home.
Aside from that, you can also do role-playing games to test employees on how they will respond to emergencies or crisis.
Foster a consistent relationship with your clients
During the pandemic, a lot of businesses rushed to send out messages to their customers and showered them with promo codes.
While we encourage sending out messages to your customers, it shouldn’t be done only when you’re going through a rough patch.
Once they become brand advocates, you no longer have to remind them to buy your products or services – they do it voluntarily and they will recommend you to friends and family. That’s the kind of relationship you want to build.
Revisit the crisis plan every few months
As with any organisation, people come and go. Things change. New processes might be in place that were not there before. New technologies may be implemented.
Consistently reviewing and updating the crisis plan can help to make sure that it is updated and reliable.