Top Priorities for Your Business Continuity Plan in Light of COVID-19

The coronavirus epidemic is now gripping the world, leaving everyone uncertain of what will happen next. It is crucial for all businesses and organisations to review the business continuity plan.

Keywords: Mazars, Thailand, COVID-19, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Business, Continuity Plan, Management

20 March 2020

An old saying credited to Benjamin Franklin rings true - “failing to plan is planning to fail.” When preparing budgets for this year, some organisations may have forecast a slowdown in the global economy or flagged the idea of a potential country-specific recession, but no one could have predicted the severity of the coronavirus and the impact it is having on the global economy.  

Now is the time to enact business continuity plans. The following areas deserve serious attention. 

Communication

This is a challenging time for everyone involved in your organisation. To help reduce the stress and anxiety, communication from the leadership team needs to be timely, open, and direct.

Nobody likes to be left in the dark. It creates discontent amongst staff, which eventually affects culture, and can lead to a drop in productivity. Employees have families and loved ones outside of the workplace, and will always compare what one organisation does to another. Employees should be updated on potential plans and how the organisation is dealing with the crisis.

Have open and honest communication with employees. Due to the ever-changing information and daily updates around the globe, today’s communication can be quickly outdated. Having open communication with employees allows organisations to pivot and change direction if required. No one has all the answers at this moment, and it is acceptable to change the message given to employees – own the change and give the reasons for the change.

Ensure management and HR communication is in sync and that delivery methods are consistent.

Allow communication channels to be open. It is not necessarily a voice from the top, but a two-way street. Listen to your employees and understand their concerns.

Employee welfare

Everyone has different circumstances. Some employees may be caretakers of elderly parents, some may have young families, while still others may have responsibilities unknown to their workplace. The crisis can be an emotionally challenging time, and the workplace needs to become more sensitive and flexible to employees – most recently, we are seeing schools and government services closing indefinitely. What we would have considered to be the most elementary routine, for example, taking public transport, now has a new element of risk.

We are now seeing working from home and flexible working hours becoming more common to accommodate both employers’ and employees’ needs.

Cash flow management

Be prepared for an economic slowdown. The leadership team needs to be stress testing financial models and testing various assumptions – including the assumption of a global recession. Running stress tests allows the organisation to ensure liquidity is sufficient. Stress tests can assist to understand at which point the organization will need to make adjustments to operations. Identify plans and remedies for each point before it occurs.  

Be in contact with customers and suppliers, and have open communication. In the current market, the collection of outstanding invoices may prove difficult. Staying close to customers and suppliers allows you to understand the threats they face and the associated risk to your business.

Leadership

A great leader is one who stands up in a time of crisis. A leader is not a cheerleader, but one who is in the forefront. They communicate clearly and in a timely way to reassure employees they are doing everything possible to minimize the impact of the situation.

As the pandemic continues to spread, it is still not too late to plan. Remember that communication is the bedrock of all relationships. In order to help ease pressure in times of uncertainty, employees need to be continually updated. Understandably, the leadership is in a difficult position, as they now face more pressure – day-to-day operations, continuity planning and stress testing, and communicating with employees.

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