FOR THE

This year it’s the coronavirus. Next time, and there will certainly be a next time, it could be an earthquake, recession, or something else unforeseen. 


Our advice on preparation—click through to see short-, medium-, and long-term actions organizations should take.


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1. EMPLOYEE SAFETY

1. EMPLOYEE SAFETY

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Adhere to local government and health officials’ notices and directions.
  • Implement necessary restrictions on meetings, travel, etc.
  • Identify remote-work options for individuals/teams.
  • Provide forums for Q&As with employees on safety measures.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Leverage surveys/polling to gauge employees’ views of management’s response to their health and safety concerns.
  • Contribute to medical/health efforts outside your organization.
  • Provide options for healthy employees to stay home to care for sick family members.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Evaluate the flexibility of sick leave policies and align them with public health guidance.
  • Create policies to empower local leaders to respond to crises based on health/safety guidelines in their area.
  • Involve employees in developing/updating crises response plans, and then test them intermittently.

2. TALENT/LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

2. TALENT/ LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Pause group orientations and onboarding.
  • Provide coaching to managers on crisis communications.
  • Organize training (virtual or in-person) on digital tools for remote work.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Develop structure and processes for virtual meetings.
  • Assess for fit, potential, and agility aligned to evolving operating and strategy models.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Identify managers/leaders for specific crisis-management roles.
  • Enhance training programs for hard and soft skills.
  • Ramp up recruiting as needed for critical roles.
  • Compare data on engagement levels before, during, and after the crisis, and create strategies to address times of decline.

3. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

3. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Focus on purpose to keep employees engaged and motivated. 
  • Consider hiring freezes, especially for nonessential positions, until there is more clarity around the business impact.
  • Ensure employees are clear on whether previous or new goals are in place.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Assess whether and how to adjust goals/targets for the year. 
  • Solicit feedback more frequently to help address emerging issues/barriers. 
  • Consider implementing off-cycle reviews aligned to short-term incentives.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Train managers to focus on outcomes instead of face/desk time.
  • Evaluate the impact of grade/title inflation on performance.
  • Determine if workforce levels need to be right-sized.
  • Consider changes to recognition programs that employees don’t value.

4. COMPENSATION AND REWARDS

4. COMPENSATION AND REWARDS

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Create short-term, team-based incentive rewards.
  • Evaluate existing nonfinancial rewards that can be expanded to keep up engagement/morale.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Develop retention plans for key talent.
  • Adjust individual performance incentives as conditions normalize.
  • Consider crisis-related spot awards where applicable.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Maintain awards for high performers.
  • Enhance incentive designs based on learnings.
  • Align reward investments with employee preferences.
  • Consider tying bonuses and incentives to crisis-related health-and-safety metrics.

5. BUSINESS CONTINUITY

5. BUSINESS CONTINUITY

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Communicate with customers on impact and expectations.
  • Create C-suite-sponsored cross-functional teams for key areas (e.g., sales/marketing, supply chain).
  • Preserve operating capacity in the event demand returns to normal sooner than expected.
  • Develop short-term performance benchmarks for operating teams and update them at least biweekly.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Evaluate inventory levels for potential shortages.
  • Identify supply chain alternatives; consider changes to distribution strategy.
  • Increase digital initiatives and channel presence.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Consider changes to demand-forecasting processes.
  • Create and secure contingency suppliers.
  • Evaluate the need for more sources of contingency/temporary workers to secure on-duty crisis coverage.

6. CORPORATE AFFAIRS

6. CORPORATE AFFAIRS

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Align messaging to avoid confusion/contradictions.
  • Plan for potential outcomes, from best- to worst-case scenarios.
  • Update digital communications tools.
  • Establish a regular and reliable cadence of communication from the CEO and senior team.
  • Ensure employees are aware of their rights/protections as related to things like sick pay and performance expectations during the crisis.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Reassess and adapt messaging based on the latest data.
  • Communicate moves to preserve profitability that are unrelated to head count.
  • Develop messaging around a post-crisis path forward plan.
  • Consider implementing reward measures for customers.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Leverage surveys/polling to get employees’ reactions to management’s transparency and response to the crisis.
  • Assess areas for improvements.

7. ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGY

7. ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGY

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Provide support to help remote teams collaborate.
  • Identify potential locations/offices where operations can be shifted.
  • Create a crisis response team and reporting structure to key leaders.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Assess industry trends developing as a result of the crisis and how to counter them with cost-effective alternatives.
  • Alter team structures and operations to be more agile.
  • Consider changes to approval processes to allow for quicker decision-making and course correcting.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Determine what organizational changes can be permanently adopted.
  • Consider adjusting management spans.
  • Evaluate potential changes to operating model.
  • Revisit office space requirements based on data around remote-work productivity and other performance metrics during the crisis.

8. FINANCIAL MODELING

8. FINANCIAL MODELING

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Cut travel and entertainment expenses in the short term.
  • Consider ways to cut spending on materials, if necessary.
INTERMEDIATE ACTIONS
  • Determine potential debt/credit breaches based on revenue projections.
  • Consider eliminating nonessential marketing programs.
  • Consider diverting money from bonus pools to offset revenue losses.
  • Consider adjusting payment terms for contract, freelance, and other outside vendors.
  • Evaluate the possibility of delaying product launches.
  • Evaluate the possibility of delaying office openings.
LONG-TERM ACTIONS
  • Fine-tune cost structure.
  • Consider cutting discount, insurance, and other programs employees rarely use.
  • Refocus investment strategy on main business goals and growth opportunities.