Though swine flu luckily hasn’t become a pandemic yet, I recently spoke with Booz Allen Hamilton vice president Mark Herman about what companies should do to prepare for pandemics like Avian flu.
Herman’s top tips:
1. Determine the minimum amount of staff needed to continue company operations. How many people do you need on site to produce the products or services your company sells? Determine which staff can work remotely without disrupting the business.
2. Develop ways to reduce absenteeism among healthy employees who may become afraid to come to work. Communicate frequently and be proactive in providing face masks or sanitation stations.
3. Understand your company’s supply chain. How long can you stay in business with current inventories? If you practice just-in-time logistics, what tough-to-get products will you run out of first?
4. Understand the financial implications of all aspects of a pandemic. For instance, if someone gets sick at work, what are the liability issues?
Booz Allen has designed simulations and war games for companies and other organizations to practice responding to crises before they occur. Herman was a co-author of Wargaming for Leaders: Strategic Decision Making from the Battlefield to the Boardroom (December 2008).
What else do you think companies and managers should be thinking about?
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