Crisis Management: Are You Prepared?

The Coronavirus is snowballing its way towards an avalanche across our global economy. 9/11 was our moment of awakening, reinforced by destructive “once in a thousand years” every five years weather events, wildfires and the critical ice shelves melting their history into the world’s oceans, submerging seaside communities in its path.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Raises Global Risk for Coronavirus to Very High as countries across the world scramble to gather facts, quarantine citizens, and cities build a meaningful protocol. Bill Gates warns of the inevitable long-term interruptions to the supply chain worldwide and says coronavirus may be 'Once-in-a-Century Pathogen' and the stock markets are dipping to lows not seen since the Great Recession of 2008.

Reuters reports “Global downturn looms as countries struggle to contain coronavirus outbreak …”

Major conferences and other large public gatherings have been canceled and as I write this, the Houston Business Journal reports that one of the largest energy conferences - CERAWeek2020, that "generally attracts more than 5,500 delegates from over 80 countries along with more than 840 speakers, according to the event's website - has joined the growing list of cancellations. According to this report, IHS Markit, its sponsor, released the following statement:

"Our number one concern is the health and safety of delegates and speakers, our partners, our colleagues and vendors," the statement continues. "We have spent the last several weeks focused on this question, established a medical partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital, have been in continuous dialogue with experts on infectious disease, and established an extensive protocol. But the spread of COVID-19 is moving quickly around the world."

As crisis management teams huddle to define and distill their approach to a Level 5 emergency that didn’t exist two months ago, there are measures your organization can take immediately that will ensure maximum effectiveness.

Clear and consistent communications referring to the current CDC protocol in tandem with your corporate policies are the foundation for protecting your team. This level of transparency will reinforce your commitment and stewardship for the health and well-being of your employees and their families.

The importance of a clear proactive information flow led by the crisis management team is magnified by the current corruption of factual information dispersed to the public from the highest levels. According to current research,

“... ten of the <corona-type> viruses can remain infectious on glass, metal and plastic surfaces for up to ten days at a time … weakened only by temperatures reaching 30-40 degrees Celsius ... roughly 86 degrees Fahrenheit and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (respectively) …”

A few basic recommendations by the CDC and others studying the novel coronavirus – most especially as it’s now morphed into a communal spread:

  • Wash your hands. Wash them again.

  • Staying home when you and your employees are sick is a crucial mandate in controlling the spread of the virus.

  • Social distancing – CDC suggests the safest distances to keep at work and on the plane, in addition to the face mask issues.

  • Workplace habits command a review and a cohesive communications plan to encourage telecommuting. Are all systems good?

  • Do you have updated contact information for your employees?

  • Numerous organizations have implemented daily temperature checkpoints upon entering the workplace.

  • Temporarily give up your firm handshake for the “Ebola Elbow Bump” – it’s not the same, but it’s a respectful temporary gesture as we figure out the trajectory of this virus.

The Harvard Business Review published a thoughtful article entitled “The Insider: Questions About Coronavirus"

It is incumbent on all of us to work on the front lines to fight this pandemic.

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