Communication Planning for the Coming Pandemic (2016)
Unlike the disasters that most companies plan for, a pandemic primarily will not affect equipment and facilities, but rather the people organizations depend on to produce products and services. The current assumptions about a pandemic’s duration push the boundaries of most existing absence-from-work policies. Therefore, organizations must thoroughly examine their human resource management practices and policies, refining and/or implementing policies that address the long timeline of a pandemic event.
One of the greatest threats facing businesses today is communicable illness/pandemic outbreaks. A communicable illness/pandemic has unique impacts on individuals, families, businesses and healthcare providers. The impacts are not lost physical infrastructure. The impacts are lost lives, lost work, lost revenue, lost wages and lost personnel. In a pandemic, everyone feels the impact whether they become infected or not.
It is possible that an organization’s workforce could be depleted by 40 percent or more at any given time during a pandemic. The impact and recovery could last 18 to 24 months. The majority of steps needed to prepare for this risk are operational. Human Resource issues, such as how employers plan to address screening, monitoring, leave, absenteeism and other processes and policies involving their workforce are critical and have strategic implications. In making plans, employers will confront many federal and state regulatory challenges that must be considered. Communication during a Pandemic is a part of this planning.
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