Outbreaks of infectious diseases have increased with the advent
of globalization. As organizations have expanded across borders,
oceans, continents, the landscape of the pandemic has changed
considerably. Outbreaks such as SARS and H1N1 gave us a glimpse of
the possible havoc, while the most recent West Africa Ebola
outbreak has demonstrated that no industry remains untouched by the
potential implications of an outbreak.
While the level of pandemic preparedness among Canadian business
has traditionally been relatively low, organizations are beginning
to invest in their value chains and employees in order to reduce
the potential impacts of pandemics or high absenteeism.
An effective Pandemic Preparedness and Response Program can help
organizations achieve economic returns before, during, and after an
outbreak by enabling an enhanced level of employee protection while
maintaining critical operations with disciplined and effective
management. Organizational preparedness to respond to, and
minimize, the impact of a pandemic is critical to the
sustainability of any business.
Organizations should consider the multiple variables that will
impact their ability to maintain uninterrupted operations,
including staffing shortages, challenges in maintaining critical
operations, and impact on financial bottom line.
In doing so, organizations should ensure that there are
appropriate policies and procedures developed, and that the
appropriate resources and contingency plans are in place.
How Marsh Risk Consulting Can Help
Each organization has unique needs and as such, pandemic
planning should be appropriately tailored and never
"one-sizefits- all". Pandemic plans should carefully take
into account the industry, business operations, financial position,
corporate values, and culture of the organization.
Through the integration of best practices and industry
expertise, and a thorough understanding of the organization, MRC
will work collaboratively to develop an effective pandemic response
plan that will increase organizational resiliency when faced with a
global health crisis or pandemic.
The most critical steps in developing a Pandemic Crisis
Management Framework are the planning activities, outlined below in
MRC's proven, systematic approach:
Confirmation of Critical Processes: This process consists of
determining critical processes within the organization, with
particular emphasis on whether the function could be performed from
an offsite location during a pandemic. Analysis is also performed
to determine impact of interruption of the critical processes and
minimal staffing levels and skill sets required to sustain
Development/Verification of Pandemic Policies: Consists of
reviewing existing policy documentation and comparing them to
current best practices. Once a review is completed, challenges will
be addressed through recommendations and policy changes for
Communication Strategy Development: Marsh will evaluate
internal and external communication requirements and techniques,
develop a communication timetable, and outline recommendations for
specific pandemic communication elements. A communication strategy
to implement during a pandemic will be developed, consistent with
current organizational standards.
Pandemic Crisis Management Framework Development: Marsh will
develop a pragmatic documentation plan, establish monitoring
procedures, and associated trigger events to facilitate decision
making. An update to the employee communication program will
reflect the approved policies, while the expansion of existing
documentation will include additional elements such as resource
requirements in the event of high absenteeism.
Business Unit Pandemic Response Plans: Specific plans will be
developed or existing Business Continuity Plans modified to include
pandemic response protocols, such as strategies to maintain
critical processes, key skill set succession strategies, and
organized shut down due to quarantine action or loss of key
Exercise: Marsh will develop and facilitate a specific pandemic
scenario table top exercise to validate the Pandemic Crisis
Management Framework. Attention will be on the communication
elements and interaction between groups, in addition to assumptions
used in procedural documentation, and the structure/ usability of
MRC's Business Continuity Management consultants are
accredited business continuity practitioners with access to an
extensive global network of professionals and years of experience
in issues surrounding pandemic preparedness. MRC can provide a
global solution to a global issue that is right for your
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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