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Corona Virus – Managing in the Age of Global Viruses

In our global economy, where many companies rely on manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors outside of their own backyard, the corona virus has likely raised questions and concerns among your employees. They won’t be looking to you for health-related answers, but if your company has any connection with China they are likely worried about how it’s going to affect their jobs.

Some issues you might need to address include:

How will you handle the situation if any of your employees are currently in China or have recently returned. Will you expect them to stay home for at least 14 days (the incubation period) to make sure they aren’t sick? If they can’t work from home due to the nature of their job, will you pay them? Can you afford to do so?

If you rely on product and/or materials coming from China or other affected areas how long can you continue to operate at full-strength before you will need to think about reducing hours or laying-off staff?

Are there alternative suppliers in other regions you can use? How long will it take to set up those relationships?

Is there any risk to employees’ health if they handle product and/or supplies that have already arrived from an affected region?

With the situation in a constant state of change, what can you do to mitigate the impact on employee morale and productivity? As always, open communication is vital. Let your employees know how the outbreak has affected business so far, the scope of that impact, what the management team is doing to mitigate it, and any plans you might have for the future if the virus continues to spread in China and beyond. You may have to say that you don’t have the answers at this point, but it’s always better to say something so there isn’t an information void that will inevitably be filled with rumours and misinformation.

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