The coronavirus ( covid-19) epidemic has the attention of most people now. The uncertainty of what may happen and when makes this a difficult threat.

There is no reason to panic. There is every reason to plan!

Pull out your emergency or business continuity plan as a first step. What does it offer that you need to think about now? Plan for? Update?

Your first two big considerations are the potential impact on your business and what you will do about your employees. Knowing what issues you may face helps you to prepare and will help calm fears.

A recent survey indicated over 2.5 million bot-related disinformation efforts related to the coronavirus within two days. Area stores, here and in other locations, are running low on face masks. People are scared. Your efforts can help employees know what to do and where to go for valid information – both good ways to build resilience and reduce over-reactions.

What are the business risk you face?

Assess this first. Look at your options. A retail business which depends on products made in China may face delays in production and delivery. A hotel may face significant loss of business if travel is restricted or people cancel trips in fear. Be realistic about the issues your business may face and develop plans to deal with each potential problem. Involve employees in developing plans where possible. Communicate to employees – and customers, as needed – the outlines of your plans.

What employee risks do you face?

You need to make clear that employees’ health and safety is top priority.  Legally, you must provide a safe workplace but there are few other legal requirements which apply to this situation.  Start by thinking:

What is the impact if multiple employees get sick?  Is cross-training now a potential solution?
What can you do to provide remote work and telecommuting if the government recommends such options?
What will you do about sick leave and pay issues if many people are ill or you have to reduce work hours or close temporally?

Do you have travel plans to address?

Do you have a culture of people coming to work when they are sick? If so, now is the time to start making it clear that is not smart. That means if you and senior leaders do this, you have to stop. You have to model the behavior you expect. I was terrible at this for decades, always ‘powering thru’ an illness – and many entrepreneurs and managers also do that.

Who cleans your work spaces? Does everyone help keep them clean? Now is the time to encourage everyone to take responsibility. You may need to stock up on cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, soaps and such. Consider reminder posters in bathrooms about hand-washing.


The CDC is regularly updating their website on the coronavirus. Here is a link to their ‘Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease’

CDC Guidance for Businesses

This is a good, short article on what employers face and how to react. Note that it also talks about the need to reassure employees and keep them informed of your plans.

Employer Guidance via National Law Review