Prepare with a checklist
Companies should have a checklist in preparation for a pandemic to ensure that everything is in place ahead of an emergency, an international human resources consultancy group says.
'Prevention and protection is very important,' said Rosaline Chow Koo, the leader of Mercer Health & Benefits. 'There are a few things we can check on beforehand.'
Mercer has prepared a three-page, 33-point pandemic planning checklist for companies.
'We give their human resources departments a checklist and help them to get through each one of these planning areas,' she said.
The areas involve protecting employees, locating them, communicating with staff, and sustaining them during and after a pandemic.
In protecting employees, companies need to check if they would want to provide vaccinations for employees, provide masks and other protective equipment, and whether there is a telecommuting policy.
Companies should also see whether they have a policy to confirm employee addresses on file, where they work from remotely, and if their employees know the emergency evacuation and disaster response protocol.
In communicating with employees, companies must check when they have a policy to confirm contact numbers and e-mail addresses, and if their mobile phones have text-messaging capability turned on.
In sustaining employees, payroll plans should address extended periods of absence due to a pandemic, and identifying which employees are critical to the business.
Companies should also ask if they have plans for continuing health care benefits during a prolonged pandemic and plans for providing counselling to employees.
'If companies have pandemic plans, they need to ask if the plans have been reviewed and evaluated,' Ms Koo said.