Is Your Business Continuity Plan Ready for Coronavirus?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely heard about the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and the surrounding hype. This hype has lead to some issues, including a national hand sanitizer shortage, thousands of canceled travel plans, and in some areas, a fear of going out in public.

While it’s true that the flu still remains a greater threat to those of us in the US than the coronavirus, its movement is being tracked much more carefully. The outbreak started in China and they are reporting the highest incidents with over 80,000 cases, but 109 countries, including the US, are reporting infected people and deaths from the virus.

Something you might want to consider is how the coronavirus will affect you and your credit union. The stock market and global business have taken strong hits from the virus, which could mean trouble for any business, including credit unions. Furthermore, if people in your community get sick and are quarantined, you could be facing possible staffing issues. In a perfect world, everyone would have business continuity plans to cover these issues, but in the case you don’t let’s look at some preventive and proactive steps.

Related: Continuity at the Core: Planning for the Unexpected

Prevention is essential

To be proactive and decrease the possible spread of the virus, it is good to educate yourself on the issue and what cautionary measures you could or should take. The coronavirus presents the affected with similar symptoms of the flu: respiratory issues, coughing, runny nose, fatigue, fever, etc.

Here are some preventative measures you can take:

  • Maintain social distancing: You could advise a no-handshake policy or perform meetings virtually rather than in person.
  • Promote and practice good hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently and remind staff that they should also be doing so.
  • Cough hygiene: Educate staff on coughing into their elbow rather than not covering or coughing into their hand. Having the cough directed at the inside elbow prohibits those germs from going into the open air or contaminating your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face (mouth, nose, eyes): This is probably the hardest one to do if you have ever tried it, you know how many times you touch your face subconsciously throughout the day. When you touch your face with dirty hands, germs can get into your mucous membranes and can lead to an infection. So try to keep those hands away from your face. Bringing awareness to the issue and training staff to be conscious of it should help to reduce the amount of face touching.
  • If you feel sick – stay home and follow your doctor’s advice: If you isolate yourself, you are less likely to spread the virus. You can inform staff that if they begin to experience symptoms, to please stay at home. If the symptoms are severe, please see your doctor and follow their advice.

If an infected person did visit your credit union, those preventative measures mentioned above, along with proper cleaning of the facility, will help to eliminate the spread of the virus.

Look to your business continuity plan

So, if you and staff are following the recommendation to stay home if sick, what do you do when staff members don’t come to work? How many staff members do you need to keep the branch up and running? Ideally, pandemic planning and shortage of staff are both things you have thought about and planned for as part of your business continuity plan. If not, two strategies for possible staffing issues could be:

  • Remote work: Can your staff work from home? If that isn’t set up, can it be set up relatively fast? What is the minimum staff needed to perform member services or work on the teller lines? If staff are working remotely, do they have access to software or resources needed to perform their job? This is something that needs to be set up and considered ahead of time, rather than in a chaotic crisis situation.
  • Cross training of staff: If you are working with minimal staff, do the available staff know how to perform other critical functions? If not, it is not too late to start cross training.

If employee absences becomes an issue, the PTO policy may need to be revisited given the circumstances of the pandemic virus and lack of leniency for coming into work while feeling sick.

Overall, the coronavirus too shall pass. It will most likely go down in books like SARS, avian flu, etc. It does present you with a great opportunity to visit your pandemic and business continuity plans for improvements. Use it to build up the resiliency in your credit union operations.

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