The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak, also known as the COVID-19 outbreak, as a pandemic. As of writing, the coronavirus has infected more than 332,935 people worldwide and led to 14510 confirmed deaths. The infection keeps spreading across more than 190 countries, areas, and territories globally, and the death toll keeps increasing.
The National Retail Federation held a conference call on February 28, 2020. Nancy Messonnier, MD, Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCR+IRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Lisa M. Koonin, DrPH, MN, MPH, of Health Preparedness Partners, LLC were a part of the conference call to discuss the guidelines for businesses and employers amid this crisis.
They discussed the aspects of
● Business continuity
● Protecting the workforce
● Protecting the customers
● The community
A pandemic of this scale is having an impact on organizations worldwide and in the U.S.
You have to consider the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on your organization when a significant portion of your workforce cannot come to work. It can be because they are sick, or as part of the preventative measures, but a large number of employees can no longer come to work.
It is the role of leaders at all levels in various organizations to develop an adequate contingency plan to ensure the continuity of business operations at this time. They need to deploy strategies that can help them adapt to the current situation and continue the work their businesses are doing.
A measure that business leaders and employers need to take is to protect their workforce. Any person who is showing symptoms of the disease should be encouraged strongly to stay at home. Your organization's standard sick leave policy should be made flexible, or you should introduce an emergency ill leave policy on short notice following the severity of the issue at hand.
Employees who are well and coming in for work need to practice all measures to ensure their safety and those of their colleagues. Repeatedly clean all surfaces as often as possible. If any employee needs to travel, consult the guidelines defined by the CDC for travel, and make sure they follow them before they go. Insist that the workforce wash hands regularly and place sanitizers around the business premises to encourage employees to clean their hands as often as possible.
Lastly, you need to make sure your employees seek the proper medical attention should they fall sick instead of resorting to self-medication.
Operating in retail and supply chain means your business interacts with customers often. Introduce and implement alternative delivery methods to ensure the safety of your customers. Ask customers who come to your business not to enter the store. Instead, take their orders and deliver what they require to them outside. It will give your customers more confidence regarding your business and encourage them to shop at your store.
Provide hand sanitizers to customers at every entry point and repeatedly sanitize any surfaces the customers might come into contact with. Business continuity can only proceed if you take adequate measures to ensure the safety of your employees and customers.
A critical aspect of business continuity during this crisis is to tune in to the local community communication at every location your organization’s stores are located. As business owners, you need to be up to date on what is going on in that community, and what the public health situation is in that community.
Coronavirus Outbreak and the Supply Chain
James B. Rice, Jr. had some excellent points to discuss regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the supply chain. We are amid the crisis right now. The best way to deal with a challenging situation like this is to take preemptive measures. However, some measures can be taken currently to prevent further adversity to your supply chain operations as the pandemic worsens.
Here are some of the key points discussed:
● Providing relief programs to employees during this time
● Obtaining valid and accurate information
● Preparing contingencies for the worst-case scenarios
● Caring for the people
● Reinvigorating the supply chain model to suit the need of the hour
● Develop detailed emergency exit plans
● Retaining good working relations with other market leaders for the partnerships critical for success
● Analyze and identify your business’ strengths and weaknesses
● Have a secondary supply source
● Have a local supply source
A dependable and proactive response to the pandemic is the only way to ride the wave. Leaders have limited options at this time. It is up to them to make adjustments and compromise on their business goals keeping the severity of the situation in mind.
Leaders need to care for their employees now, more than ever before. Manufacturing industry leaders need to provide adequate healthcare facilities to their employees. Maintaining an inventory of critical medical supplies required to protect the workforce in times of a viral outbreak is necessary.
The COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread and affect a growing number of people from all walks of life throughout the world. In times like these, business owners, employers, and leaders at every level must take some key measures.
● Developing business continuity plans
● Reviewing sick leave policies
● Redesigning the supply chain based on the current global market situation
● Keeping good relations with other industry leaders
● And maintaining inventories of the adequate supplies to ensure the safety of the workforce and customers
A changing worldwide situation requires proactive leadership that is willing to adapt to the demands for retail supplier collaboration and business continuity amid the crisis. Efficient and long-lasting supplier collaboration is the only way to take on the challenges ahead.