Crisis management tips for the COVID-19 pandemic

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It’s easy to get caught up in anxiety about the current state of the economy. While there is ample cause for concern about the financial ramifications of COVID-19, at Zeifmans we are also keeping a steady focus on our most important priority: People. We believe it’s critical to maintain perspective, particularly as it relates to our coworkers, employees, and their families.

Most businesses can agree that a global pandemic of this scale was not previously front-of-mind when considering crisis management. Other threats such as fire, theft, or data breach seemed more “realistic”, and thus we’re more likely to have some plans in place for those outcomes. If your crisis management procedures needed adjusting to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. Now that you’ve implemented your COVID-19 crisis management plan, it’s wise to utilize the valuable lessons you’ve learned to craft an even more robust plan for the future.

Simplify
If we place people at the centre of our crisis management processes, we need to first consider the state of mind of those people when they’re responding to the plan. In times of crisis, people crave simplicity. Instructions need to be straight-forward and easy to understand. Now is not the time for a 100-page manual.

Leverage visual elements like checklists, flow charts, and step-by-step guidance. Everything should be tailored to enable the reader to take action in a timely manner. Remove any elements that could slow the process. Keep in mind as well that crisis management plans should be crafted in alignment with emergency response strategies, public safety, and business continuity procedures to avoid confusion.

Choosing your team
A thorough crisis management plan should have multiple leaders, each specific to a certain type of crisis. Who did you appoint to lead your crisis response team for COVID-19? Did you make the right choice?

To ensure continuity across all touch points, it’s best to appoint both a local leader (at the site of the crisis) and an executive leader (at the corporate level). These leaders need to have a thorough understanding of crisis management protocols, and have access to the other teams whose assistance will be necessary. This includes collaboration with insurance teams, human resources, operations, and communications.

Training and education
When it comes to crisis management, training needs to be tailored to each individual’s role and type of involvement. The best way to accomplish this is often through role-playing scenarios. A COVID-19 crisis management practice session should include imagining that a team member has tested positive for the virus, and running through all the steps that need to take place afterwards. Ensure that everyone knows their role, including how pertinent information is communicated and distributed throughout the organization.

Communicate
When drafting the communications component of your plan, all the necessary touchpoints should be considered. These include:

– Notification
– Response
– Status updates
– Resolution
– Post-crisis lessons learned

Make sure that your communication plan includes how these messages are delivered to all the stakeholders, including first responders, employees, senior management, partners, the public, and the media.

Add new tools
Mass communication is easier than ever in today’s tech-savvy workforce. How do you typically deliver company-wide communications? Do you use an internal messaging platform? Social media? Email? Make sure that your plan is leveraging all your existing technology to deliver information in a timely manner. Your staff can easily have access to crisis management protocol at the tips of their fingers, provided that you can deliver the plan to their Smartphone. As your organization adopts new technological innovations, consider how these can be included in your plan moving forward.

Lessons learned
One of the most important aspects of a crisis management plan comes after the crisis. Keep in mind- eventually we will get through the COVID-19 pandemic, and our business and professional lives will return to a state of normalcy. At that point, it will be helpful to look back and record the lessons your organization learned. Identify any inefficiencies and brainstorm ways to improve the process moving forward.

Best practices for crisis management
Effective crisis management plans place people at the centre, supporting their health and safety through clearly defined and expertly communicated guidelines. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the team at Zeifmans remains 100% operational, and equipped to guide our clients through this uncertain time. Allow us to assist you in crafting a crisis management plan that will empower your organization to respond to the unprecedented challenges of our current economic landscape.

Suggested supplemental insights

COVID-19 Business Survival Strategies

COVID-19: Guide for Business Owners