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Coronavirus - Pandemic Planning

As lockdown restrictions ease and a great majority of businesses are allowed to open, we consider how to adapt to the new normal and ensure we are always prepared.

At the beginning of the year, we originally developed this guide to help businesses prepare for what was to become a Global Pandemic resulting in a national lockdown. Fast forward nearly five months and we’re updating the guide to reflect on the key challenges and issues that businesses have faced, to provide the necessary preparatory steps you should follow should we see localised lockdowns or a second spike.

This guide provides a check list of actions and Government guidelines to incorporate into your Pandemic Planning. This touches upon key activities including a communications plan, workplace safety, workforce flexibility and business continuity.

Communications Planning

Communication with employees, customers and suppliers is vital. In a pandemic, times move very quickly, with daily Government briefings, forced closures and new guidance to implement. Here we list what your communication plan should consider:
  1. Keeping up to date: You can find the most up-to-date guidance at www.gov.uk/coronavirus which includes information on latest news, business closures, working safely, transport advice, international travel and business support.
  2. Establish a response team: Allocate clear roles and responsibilities in your senior management team, encompassing all aspects of your business from Finance, HR, Supply Chain and Stakeholder Management. You may also find that some staff roles may need to change or pivot to respond to market needs.
  3. Efficient and quick communication: A pandemic plan should include a communications programme that will allow messages and information to disseminate rapidly, despite the possibility that everyone may not be able to access their place of work. This should include the ability of management to communicate any decisions they make to ensure safety of staff and to keep the business operating. A key priority is to make sure that you have up-to-date contact details for your staff. 
  4. Methods of communication: With social distancing measures and advice from Government to work from home where possible, the normal methods of communication can be limited. Digital technology and communications channels have been essential to keep businesses operating. Read more form our working remotely guide here.
  5. New ways of client relations and marketing: Meeting clients or travelling to an event is no longer business as usual. Define a clear strategy to communicate with current and prospect clients as well as the frequency, this may be through email or phone call. In terms of driving sales and your business reputation, here we provide a detailed marketing guide.
  6. Revise your plan: The plan may need to be revised periodically and should identify key contacts (with back-ups), chain of communications (including suppliers, customers and employees), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.
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Workplace Safety


A core responsibility as an employer is to ensure your workplace is safe. Some of the most common issues that
the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has encountered during COVID-19 compliance checks in businesses across the country include:

• failure to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing
• failure to introduce an adequate cleaning regime (particularly during busy times of the day) and provide access to welfare facilities to enable staff to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap.
 
The pandemic plan should consider ways to safeguard the workplace from virus transmission. To safely reopen your business, you can access the Growth Company's dedicated Reopening Workplaces Guide which contains a range of tools and resources to support you.

 

Workforce Flexibility

Nearly every business across the UK has experienced a change in workforce, whether that is the increase or decrease in demand, moving operations to work from home, or changing the workplace setting to ensure safety.

1. Managing the workforce: You may need to consider changing your policies on flexible work schedules, using the furlough and flexible furlough scheme, working from home and absenteeism. Some staff and management may need to be flexible to take over other positions within the company to maintain services. Read our guide on supporting your employees here. You may also have to consider redundancy, you can read our guide here.
2. If there is an outbreak of Coronavirus in the workplace: You must follow guidance from the NHS test and trace service. Employers should support workers who need to self-isolate and must not ask them to attend the workplace. More information on how the service works for employers, businesses and workers can be see here. To help businesses manage the emergence of COVID-19 cases in the workplace, we have developed a quick guide which can be accessed here.
3. Sick Pay: You should also be aware that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with government advice.
4. Mental Health: The pandemic has proven to have had a big impact on mental health. To ensure employees have the support they need, we have developed a Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources Pack for businesses, managers and individuals.   

Business Continuity

Business owners are under a lot of pressure to push through during Coronavirus despite the many challenges. Here we list three main considerations to ensure your business can Strive and Thrive.

  1. Supply chains
  2. Finance
  3. Debrief and strategy planning
1. Supply chains: There may be supply chain delays which cause shortages of materials and supplies. A pandemic plan should consider how these shortages will be dealt with. This may mean you decide to scale down some production and focus on essential services only. Set up authorities, triggers, and procedures for altering business operations (e.g. reducing operations as necessary in affected areas) and transferring business knowledge to key employees. This should include nominating deputies for key employees in advance in case of absence. Read more about managing your supply chains.

2. Finance: The financial implications of lockdown have also taken a toll on businesses. You can read our guide to Managing Finance and Cashflow here. Businesses located across Greater Manchester and Lancashire can obtain fully-funded financial advice from the Growth Hub’s Access to Finance team.

3. Debrief and strategy planning: As we come out of the other side, this is also the time to debrief, understand what has worked well, what didn’t work so well. There is still a lot we do not know about Coronavirus, and as it spreads globally, nations and regions are working hard to contain the virus. Therefore, being prepared to operate in an ever-changing world is vital, as business slowly resumes in the UK, your trading partners and clients in other countries may be in a different situation. This could also be the case with local lockdowns. So, consolidating relationships with clients, developing a clear short-term and long-term strategy and allocating clear roles in your team is key. You can access our guide on business strategy during a global pandemic here.

Here for Business

The GC Business Growth Hub is #HereForBusiness and here to support you. If you’re concerned about the impact that COVID-19 is having or may have in the future on your business, we are here to help you navigate the latest government information and provide specialist advice.
Contact us

More information is available on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Support website. For more personalised advice call us on: 0161 237 4128 or email us at: BGH@growthco.uk

 

The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.

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