How can companies gauge the impact of a pandemic?

By Katie Tejada

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in business disruptions unlike any we have experienced before. The impacts of the pandemic have been significantly different from the consequences of previous disruptions, such as natural disasters, technology failures, or human-made operational missteps. Because businesses are now wading into uncharted territory, the best way to prepare for the future is to look at the lessons 2020 has taught us and apply them to what we will need to do in 2021.

Moving forward, businesses would be wise to incorporate “pandemic planning” into existing management, communication policies, and procedures to ensure they are prepared and capable of providing continuity of their services and products. Establishing such strategic planning will help minimize the disruptions that will likely appear in the future.

Six steps for business leaders to gauge and mitigate the impact of COVID-19

– Communicate internally frequently and accurately.

Frequent communication with all employees is necessary to provide educational materials, enforce new policies (such as telecommuting or travel restrictions), and offer resources. To the best of their ability, businesses should share trusted and reliable public health information that aligns with local and state-wide health agencies.

– Assess the business health and viability of all vendors or third-party contractors.

Many businesses rely heavily on outsourced vendors and independent contractors to fulfill critical roles. However, third parties are also at risk during the pandemic and may experience capacity limitations that can create a domino effect, creating budgeting challenges for other businesses.

– Review all crisis communication plans to ensure messaging aligns with local, state-wide, and national best-practices.

A robust communication plan includes both social media and traditional external methods, such as press releases and public statements. Strong brand messaging is crucial to maintaining customer trust, bolstering employee morale, and retaining stability in the marketplace. Creating an integrated marketing and communication strategy that incorporates the latest news, such as how your business is impacted by COVID-19 relief measures, will ensure that message is consistent, uniform, and timely across all channels.

– Identify and confirm that all employees have what they need to perform their job successfully.

Employees who are new to working from home may be struggling with working remotely for this extended period of time. Investing in technology and support services that will ease virtual collaboration is imperative. As many employees have been working remotely for several months, this is also the ideal time to identify safe solutions for necessary tasks that cannot be done remotely.

– Engage with stakeholders and customers.

Regular communication with stakeholders and customers conveys that their concerns and interests are being taken seriously. Customers will continue to have questions around supply chains, technological security, and the availability of products and services, and your business must quickly provide the necessary information they require. A “COVID-19 FAQ” that relays the steps your business is taking, aligned with best practices conveyed through industry-specific expert briefings, can help proactively address any concerns stakeholders and customers may have.

– Conduct periodic employee training to ensure organizational preparedness.

As the pandemic has created an ever-changing and rapid-response environment, ongoing employee training is necessary to ensure that everyone is working from the most recent policies and following the newest best practices. Committing to frequent, brief training sessions also allows for the opportunity to recognize staff who are performing well under the extenuating circumstances and to offer support to those who may be struggling.

Regardless of a business’s size or sector, its primary priority for gauging and minimizing the impact of COVID-19 should be the well-being and safety of its employees. If staff are worried about how their work responsibilities might endanger themselves and their families, it is up to the employer to make the necessary changes that address their concerns and needs.

The importance of establishing a safe workplace and monitoring employee health cannot be stressed enough. After all, your business depends on the well-being and productivity of your employees. Ensure that there are frequent opportunities for employees to voice suggestions or concerns to leadership. By working closely with employees and incorporating their feedback, businesses will be able to genuinely gauge the impact of the pandemic on their workforce and implement innovative solutions to any disruptions brought on by COVID-19.


Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about art, travel, and decorating trends, but also covers developments in HR, business communication, real estate, and investing.

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