Coronavirus: supporting your people through a global public health emergency

Coronavirus has hit global headlines in recent weeks, with the World Health Organization declaring a global public health emergency.

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Since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, many organisations have implemented precautionary measures. British Airways have halted all air travel to the region, and various global tech firms including Apple, Amazon and Google have imposed travel restrictions to and from China. 

With cases of the virus now confirmed in the UK, what steps should employers be taking to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?

Experts believe that the number of people affected by the virus will continue to rise, and health officials around the world are on high alert. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to Hubei Province, where the virus originated, and all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China.

As people professionals you can play a key role by keeping your people up to date with the latest advice and guidance issued by government and public health agencies. As the virus continues to spread, it could pose a real threat to organisations. Therefore, it’s important to have longer term plans in place. 

Top tips for supporting your people though this global public health emergency: 

• Follow public health agency advice on efficient ways to contain the virus

• Keep up to date with government advice and adapt business plans to reflect changes 

• Actively communicate these plans with your people, customers and suppliers

• Look at options for people to work remotely to prevent the spread of infection

• For customer facing organisations consider using customer self-serve options such as telephone and online services to minimise face to face interaction

• Review your policies and procedures on health reporting, office and personal hygiene protective equipment, social distancing and working hours

• Consider providing additional training to your people working in critical areas, so others have the skills to fill in for absent colleges

It’s important to remember that people will be worried about the virus. As employers you not only have a duty of care to ensure you take reasonable steps to ensure health and safety, but also the well-being of your people. You may want to offer enhanced support to people more vulnerable to illness due to age and/or any underlying health conditions. It might also be useful to promote other support mechanisms you have in place, such as Employee Assistance and well-being programmes. 

There's more advice for UK employers in our Coronavirus factsheet.

Keep up to date with all the latest information: 

NHS advice 

World Health Organization advice

Coronavirus and the situation in the UK

Advice on travel to China 

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