March 9, 2020
Coronavirus: What You Can Do to Minimize the Impact on Your Business
Posted by Shannon Oswald
A lot of news is being circulated about the coronavirus (COVID-19). As HR professionals, we’re thinking about your business and how it could be affected. We also know you want to provide effective policies and a health-conscious environment for your employees.
We’re focused, as always, on providing practical ways you can address this threat in your workplace. Here are tips from our collective brain on how to minimize business disruption from COVID-19. (We’re not medical professionals, so look to public health experts like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the specific health-related steps to take.)
Prepare for a remote workforce
You should be preparing for the possibility of a workplace shut-down, or, at the very least, more employees asking to work from home to avoid exposure. First and foremost, you don’t want workers to be in the office if they’re contagious. This seems simple, however, it gets complicated quickly if staff are not offered alternative options.
- Run an IT test immediately to ensure network connections are working properly and will allow for remote work to be completed if needed.
- Train staff on technology to be used for teleconferencing.
- Have your employees check their connectivity from home to ensure they can work at home on short notice.
- Conduct a “practice day” where all employees work from home for one day.
- Tell staff to take laptops home daily so that your team is ready to go mobile immediately.
Think about the logistics of your business
- Designate a point person or team for crisis-related issues.
- Develop a plan for the daily tasks associated with your business. Assign tasks using common sense so things don’t fall through the cracks. Who will go and pick up the mail? What other on-site daily chores happen?
- Don’t neglect banking or other accounting responsibilities like AP or AR.
- Be sure there’s a plan in place to process payroll so employees can be paid on time.
Don’t forget to think about what happens with your employees
- Keep calm and carry on. Do send people home immediately who are sick, but don’t rush to judgement if your staff are generally staying healthy.
- Remind staff about your policies for paid time off. Employees will need access to their PTO balances.
- Remind employees that they may need to utilize available disability benefits through the state if they are out longer than 1-2 weeks.
- In the case of a longer shut-down, you might have to consider employee furloughs. This means there might be an uptick in unemployment claims resulting from the lack of work.
Encourage and facilitate office hygiene and cleanliness
- Stock up on tissues, hand sanitizer, and desk wipes. Make them available for employees.
- Encourage frequent hand washing and general precaution awareness.
- Make sure your staff know about any mobile app your health carrier offers and encourage them to use it.
Manage employee travel
- Cancel travel plans to affected areas, if feasible. Consider using local workers instead to complete tasks, or leverage video calls, etc.
- Pay attention to the situation and allow for scheduling changes as needed if an employee becomes ill or is nervous about traveling in general.
- Suggest that employees limit personal travel.
- Consider limiting in-person meetings, large work events and visitors to the workplace.
Avoid discrimination and harassment
There have already been reports of xenophobia and backlash toward Asian employees, particularly Chinese workers. The CDC has explicitly warned the public not to assume that someone of Asian descent is more likely to have COVID-19.
- Be careful to implement policies, procedures and protocols in a way that does not single out employees based on any protected characteristic, but particularly national origin or ethnicity.
Monitor official updates
Check local, state and federal public health websites daily. These are some useful CDC links:
- Virus updates: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html
- School closures: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-for-schools.html
- Travel information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
As always, feel free to reach out to our experts for more help. Click here to reach out.
Shannon Oswald works in the HR Solutions Group at Armanino LLP. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management and a Senior HR Professional (SPHR) certification. She has a broad background in HR consulting, having worked in many different industries, including tech companies and start-ups. She spends her free time thinking about work and writing posts for Armanino newsletters.
Co Authors :
Jenn has more than 25 years of outsourced accounting and finance experience, with a particular expertise in startups and the advertising and creative production industries. She is passionate about seeing companies utilize the latest accounting technology to maximize their efficiency, productivity, and ultimately, success.
Before joining Armanino, Jenn founded and led Team Jenn Corp., a firm dedicated to the strategic financial management of startups and small businesses, offering a comprehensive back office solution with accounting, finance and HR solutions. Previous roles include stints at advertising giant Ogilvy and Mather, and in the cash management industry.
Jenn has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Pepperdine University and is a member of several professional associations including the National Society of Accountants, ProVisors and the Women’s Business Enterprise Network.