Responding to COVID-19 this week – information to help your workplace

This is an email with information and links to help you and your workplace respond to the Coronavirus (or COVID-19) pandemic affecting us all (Reading time: 4 mins).

Moving through the uncertainty

We know that a lot of our clients are feeling anxious about the unprecedented health crisis that is gripping the world. Some of your employees and operations have already been impacted by the illness, or its associated self-isolation and social distancing.

As business owners ourselves, we know downturns are scary in the moment, particularly when the world around you is panicking. We have been carefully monitoring the impact of the pandemic on our operations as well as supporting many of you to continue to carry on your businesses and operations.

It has been inspiring to see how your businesses, organisations and government bodies are working calmly, proactively and strategically through very uncertain times. Notwithstanding the hoarding, there is a clear feeling in the business world that we are all in this together.

It is also heartening to see many businesses, organisations and government bodies using this as an opportunity to build trust with their customers, clients and the community. The RBA has stated its confidence in the economy’s ability to bounce back quickly once the crisis is contained. How a business, organisation or government body handles disruptions to its operations and manages the people it works with impacts how they are judged and the confidence of stakeholders.

We think our clients have been impressive in how they are responding to what’s happening.

Once the pandemic is over, we encourage you to take stock of what’s happened, how you managed it and the lessons learned including how you can be better prepared next time.

For now, what should you do?

  1. 1. There are a number of key areas you need to be focusing on to keep your business alive and ready to thrive after this period of uncertainty – your patients, your customers, your clients, your cash flow, your assets, your supply chains and, of course, your staff.
  1. 2. Frequently review your business continuity plans. The latest announcements from Federal and State governments regarding shutdowns will impact the operations of many, if not all, businesses in Australia. We will be publishing information about standing down employees later today so keep an eye out for it in case it applies to your workforce this week.
  1. 3. Communicate – or even over-communicate – with your people. This is the time for you to demonstrate your leadership and provide reassurance. It is also a time to draw on the immense expertise, skills, support and resources in your workforce. For tips on how to communicate with staff, we have published an article here.
  1. 4. Lean in on your advisors – your CFO or accountant, your bank manager, your management teams and your people on the ground. They can all help you with your scenario-planning, and preparing and implementing your business continuity plans. The Federal Government has announced a number of stimulus packages, subsidies and cashflow assistance that might apply to your business.
  1. 5. If, in your scenario-planning, you have questions or concerns about managing your workplace, leave entitlements, working from home policies or communicating with staff, we have published articles about managing workplaces during COVID-19 and determining the leave entitlements apply during self-isolation. We also have a free ‘how-to’ guide on managing employment change and promoting flexibility.
  1. 6. If you are concerned about what happens if you don’t have enough work for people to do, and restructure and redundancy is a potential scenario in your business continuity plan, read our blog below to learn about some workforce planning strategies you may be able to deploy to avoid having to let go of your valued people. We also have a free ‘how-to’ guide on how to manage a restructure and redundancy should you need it.
  1. 7. If you are considering terminating an agreement with a supplier or contractor, you should consider your relationship with the supplier or service provider, and how important it will be when the crisis passes. You might still decide to do it, but if you do, check what the ramifications will be – legal, financial and reputational.

Our firm remains (virtually) open as normal

Like you, we are focused on the health and safety of our team, families and communities. We have been continuing to monitor advice from government and health authorities here in Victoria.

The vast majority of our services can be handled virtually and our entire team is able to work from home so you should not experience any significant disruption to our operations.

More information and resources

We are moving quickly to share reliable information and resources through our e-bulletins and social media. If you haven’t already, connect with our team on Linkedin or check out our blog. We will continue to publish articles, share links and provide guidance and support to help you through this difficult time.

We are also always contactable by email or phone for any other assistance you require.

If there are things you need from us or other ways we can support you, please let us know.

Well wishes

Most importantly, we wish you, your business and your families good health and wellbeing.

The Team

Workplace Wizards

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Mark Ritchie

Mark Ritchie

Mark is passionate about helping Australian businesses efficiently resolve their industrial relations issues. Mark has demonstrated proficiency advising managers, executives and boards of small to medium-sized enterprises, as well as some of Australia’s best-known companies, on both litigious and non-litigious matters.

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