Ask the HR Department: How important is it for employers to have a contingency plan in place?

By HR and health & safety consultancy Peninsula Canada

Given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and cold winter weather, more and more employees are calling in sick. To ensure your business continues to operate in the event of staff shortages, you are wise to put in place a contingency plan. This is an action plan prepared in anticipation of an event that may disrupt normal business operations.

A contingency plan varies according to your business and industry, but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when preparing a backup operational plan for your business.

Train substitutes for key roles. Identify your core services and critical employees and their roles. Ask yourself which services would you be able to continue with limited staff? Cross-train employees so that, if your staff handling key services get sick, you have employees ready and trained to step in.

Have a communication plan in place. Designate a point person for addressing all internal queries from staff. Update your sick-leave policies and share them with your team. Assign a staff member the responsibility to communicate any modification in your services or hours of operation to your customers and vendors.

Make use of government financial assistance programs. The federal and provincial governments have rolled out grants to assist with costs such as rent, utilities and maintenance, and staff wages. If your business operations have been impacted by local lockdowns or operating capacity restrictions implemented due to Omicron spread, you can apply for the new support programs.

Review your COVID health and safety measures often. While the purpose of a contingency plan is to function with a limited staff, you should make all possible efforts to avoid such a scenario in the first place. Review your COVID health and safety measures frequently and identify areas for improvement.

Peninsula is an HR and Health and Safety consulting firm serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide, including dealers in home improvement. Clients are supported with ongoing updates to their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. Additionally, clients benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are protected by legal insurance.