Canadian HR Reporter

May 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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2 www.hrreporter.com N E W S but in recent history, I cannot really pinpoint another event, a global event or even Canadian event that has generated this type of anxiety and uncertainty. And I do think that, once we go through this, there will be a lot of lessons learned. And, hopefully, that would prepare us for being able to deal better with similar events in the future." Business continuity planning in spotlight Docebo was ready. Back in January, it was aware of the virus emerging in China, and when the infection arrived in Italy in February, the company had its contingency plan done, says Bossi. "It was very easy for us to deliver it and then copy and paste it in English and Canada when the emergency came there." Most of the business continuity planning that's done by employers is more about what percentage of people would need to be out of an office, for a short duration, says Ed Rodriguez, vice president and general manager of Canada sales at Citrix in Miami. "Winter storms certainly can keep us out of the office for days at a time but never weeks or months. I think a lot of organizations are set for days, potentially weeks, but certainly not the duration that we're faced with today." For those employers that already have some remote workers, the pandemic has meant expanding their infrastructure, programs and policies out to the broader base, he says. "Those folks tend to be in a bit more of a calm and a better state in handling things as they come in and not having to business continuity planning is still pretty weak, says Brian Kropp, distinguished vice president and chief of HR research at Gartner in Arlington, Virg. "All the scenarios that they looked at were isolated events in one place where they do work. So, if a hurricane hits somewhere, there's an earthquake, there's a terrorist attack in one location... The contingency plan, for the most part, didn't imagine scenarios where everything was shut down." To come up with a plan when the pandemic is full swing is really too late, he says. "Reality is unfolding as you're trying to come up with a plan. What you have to do, if you didn't have that plan in place, is a reactive move, and the mindset that you have to adopt as an organization is really shift how you think about decision-making and how you think about empowering employees," says Kropp. "What you have to do as an organization is switch to a default 'yes' approach… You need to set out a set of rules for employees, which are the things that they can't do; as long as they're not doing one of the things that they can't do, the assumption should be that yes, they can do it. "The organizations that will be the most successful through this process and coming out of this process are the ones that are most responsive." Communications key to preparedness When it came to communications, Docebo started very early to prepare staff, says Bossi. over- [or] under-provision things." Microsoft Canada was in good shape, according to Lisa Gibson, head of communications and business manager to the president. Being a global company, it has done a lot of simulations from a natural disaster perspective, such as tsunamis or earthquakes, and it's done scenario planning, taking three to four hours to go through a situation with its crisis management team. "A lot of that simulation, while it doesn't entirely prepare you for what's happening right now, I think it does give you a good foundation and it's already built in place a lot of the process and a lot of the teams and a lot of the ability to work together," she says. "Not many organizations do simulations and meetings fairly regularly when there isn't an issue or crisis, so I think that's something that definitely organizations will think about, moving forward, a lot more." For many organizations, the area of "We started in the beginning of February to send out communication about what was going on, so trying to work on the awareness of our employees about the epidemic that was going to spread around the world, trying to educate them to implement prevention and new habits, like how to wash hands correctly, social distance and things like that. So, it was a slow process at the beginning, so everybody was quite prepared." Once it became obvious that there was a pandemic, the company focused on remote work and preventing the spread of the virus, she says. "Everybody was quite receptive to this kind of communication because they were able to position it like something that you're doing not just for your company but for everybody." With the onset of the pandemic, many employers were unsure about how and what to communicate to their workforce, says Cissy Pau, principal consultant at Clear HR Consulting in Vancouver. "If you think there's talk and you think there's anxiety, then quell it. Have a conversation, send out a memo, have a staff meeting, send out an email — whatever it is to make sure employees know where you as an employer stand," she says. "As situations change, and it might change your normal company practice, then you update your staff." In this kind of situation, everyone has a heightened sense of concern and anxiety, says Pau. "As an employer, how you communicate and what you communicate is really important. And especially if you're setting the tone from the top," she says. "It's a good opportunity to work on that ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT IN CONTINUITY PLANNING How often do Canadian employers review their business continuity plan? Source: Mercer "Being a little paranoid in the beginning could really help you to manage the situation." Francesca Bossi, Docebo Once per year 30% Every few years 14% More than once per year 8% Never 6% Lessons > pg. 1

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