Communication strategies in such situations require rapid, regular, relevant, consistent messaging reflective of advice provided from public health authorities. Employers should also consider the level of risk specific to the employee group; the tone of the messaging delivered; planned considerations for return to work, post the pandemic and recognizing the various scenarios that might occur.
Whilst there are cases worldwide, China remains at the epicenter of the crisis, with travel restrictions increasing almost daily. There are therefore deemed two types of risk*
- Inside of China
Whilst the “Outside-China” risk presents a lower risk, those in countries with underdeveloped public health systems, are potentially more at risk than those with established health systems and resources to affect containment measures, where outbreaks occur.
Of particular concern are low-to-middle income countries, such as Thailand, where health systems lack financing, have gaps in urban primary care and have had high number of travelers come from China**.
These risk groupings are therefore the recommended focus of continued communication, to support your employees’ physical and emotional wellbeing by ensuring their safety and security, and mitigating risk to your business, as much as possible from the impact of the Coronavirus.
Experts from the international community, including the World Health Organization (WHO) predict that the Coronavirus will continue to spread well into April this year, based on a campaign launched, requiring US$675 million for a preparedness and response plan covering the months of February through to April 2020.***
- This virus has asymptomatic transmission meaning it spreads with few or no symptoms.
- There is no vaccine available and it will take some time to create.
- It is a new bug that no one has immunity to, so will be worse for people who are already weak or sick.
How can employers communicate?
When it comes to how an employer will get the word to employees out on the epidemic, consider the wide range of channels available:
- Company intranet
- Internal newsletters
- Managers, supervisors, team leads
- Operations, Sales, Finance team meetings
- Internal voice mail systems
Also, consider the speed and effectiveness of the delivery model. Targeted communications relevant to your employees and quickly disseminated are most important, given the pace at which the virus is progressing and advice may change.
In addition, employers should consider the following aspects when formulating their pandemic response plan:
- How to help employees back into work, after being quarantined, so they don’t feel isolated
- How to adapt leave policies to support advice given on the Coronavirus/ pandemic scenarios.
Practical support for business disruptions
Companies should be prepared to support employees who had booked travel, but cannot now attend as a result of elective decisions not to travel, cancelled travel arrangements; travel ban restrictions enforced by public health authorities; cancelled events; for example.
Employees will need clear guidance on how to file expenses for cancelled events. Whereas this is not as critical as providing support for employees who were potentially exposed to the Coronavirus, it is an issue that is impacting companies today.
What can Gallagher do to help?
If you have any concerns or would like support in determining your organization has the right processes and tools are in place to support the physical and emotional wellbeing of your employees and your organization, please do reach out to Gallagher.