Considerations for staff and employees in four key areas

Author: Robert Perlman    

Business Continuity Management (BCM) plans need to be recalibrated to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic crisis. What was “fit for purpose” in January will not be effective in August, because the coronavirus may be an asymmetrical threat. Nonprofits’ BCM plans need to be flexible and adoptable to anticipate the “known-unknowns.” To lead a nonprofit organization effectively in a crisis is to blend reality with a rational basis for hope.

Currently, there is a great divide by state and region. Some state leaders have lower risk tolerances than others, and cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in some areas. Nonprofit organizations that may be returning to a new normal and are asking: 

  • When is it safe to return to the workplace? 
  • Do we need to modify how we operate to support our mission?  

View Gallagher’s Return to the Workplace Hub for additional guidance and resources. 

Core business continuity planning considerations should be championed by nonprofit leadership and include employee health/safety, identification of business recovery plans for essential operations, and processes and messaging/communications considerations related to four key areas.

Nonprofit board engagement

  • Recognize that the nonprofit board chair and the board overall must champion this Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) scenario planning in concert with the staff leadership. At the same time, keep in mind the line between management and board responsibilities.
  • Remember that scenario planning should present opportunities for innovation.

Nonprofit employee health & safety 

  • Are our HR policies and processes consistent with CDC and/or state/local guidance?
  • Do new policies regarding sick leave, scheduling, control measures, etc. need to be established and/or continued?
  • How do we determine nonprofit employee status and their availability to return? Have employees been exposed to COVID-19?
    • How can we protect employees?
    • Should at-risk employees continue to work from home?
    • Will there be new requirements for returning to work (i.e., employees must be symptom-free)?
  • Do we have social distancing policies – including a new office footprint in place?
  • What is the status of childcare and dependent care services to support employees returning to the workplace?

Recovery plans for essential nonprofit business process 

  • Have we established essential operations, processes, and recovery time objectives for these processes? (e.g., <24 hours, <48 hours, <72 hours, etc.)
  • What are the staffing, equipment, and technology requirements to support critical processes; and what are recovery time objectives?
  • What third-party service providers are needed to support these essential processes and what are their recovery time objectives?
  • Do we have a Crisis Management Team (including board participation) with defined roles and responsibilities? 

Nonprofit messaging & communications

  • How and what are we messaging/communicating with our nonprofit employees, partners, donors and the communities we serve?
    • Has our mission changed and why?
  • What considerations need to be communicated to employees prior to returning to the workplace? These may include:
    • Health and safety measures
    • Change in schedule or shifts
    • Employee status-contact tracing programs
    • Priority/phased opening
    • Requirements for returning to work
  • How frequently will messages be disseminated and by whom?

For questions regarding your BCM plans, please contact Bob Perlman, leader of Gallagher’s Global Business Continuity Discipline. 

Note: As states and other governmental authorities lift the restrictions imposed around the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are starting to prepare for reopening. The decision to reopen is a complex issue.  We cannot advise you whether you should or should not reopen your business. If you decide to do so, we have generated this information for your review and consideration.  It includes some high-level ideas that you may want to consider as you move through the process of opening your business.  This generalized information does not take into account all of the unique and specific issues that may be involved in opening your business.  If you have questions about this information or your insurance coverages, please contact your Gallagher representative.

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