Human Capital & Crises Management

The microscopic novel corona virus, or Covid-19, started off as a ripple in one part of China, is now causing waves of panic across the entire world. 

Businesses are heavily impacted as this pandemic continues to plague Singapore. 

How should business owners respond productively, to ensure the protection of your people and the survival of your business in such times of crises? 

Align Group will be constantly compiling tips and advice on this page, and we hope this can serve as another useful resource and support for business owners navigating these turbulent times, specifically in dealing with the Covid-19 virus.

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during Critical Times

Management & Communication

  1. Appoint a leader or senior manager to oversee and coordinate the management of all issues relating to measures and actions to deal with the impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
  2. Designate a person to manage and curate all communications relating to the novel coronavirus.
  3. Ensure that employees are aware of the situation, measures taken, business continuity measures and their respective roles.
  4. Communicate with employees regularly to instill reassurance, calmness and transparency.

Staff Matters - Quarantine

  1. Employees under quarantine orders must not leave their designated locations for any reason.
  2. Employees serving Home Quarantine orders issued by the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be deemed to be on paid hospitalisation leave. 

Staff Matters - Leave of Absence (LOA)

  1. Ensure that employees stay away from the workplace during LOA period (typically 14 days). 
  2. Implement one of the following work / payment alternatives during LOA:
    • Give special additional leave with pay (NB: this is not legally mandatory).
    • Pay the usual salary and regard the employee as working from home. 
    • Treat LOA as outpatient or hospitalisation leave with pay.
    • Pay the employee partial wages (say 50%).
    • Allow the employee to use earned or annual leave to cover the period of absence.

Staff Matters - Other Employees

  1. Obtain a health and travel declaration from employees who have travelled to China recently, or who express upcoming plans to travel to China.
  2. Monitor closely the health condition of employees who had been in China in the past 14 days.
  3. Develop a robust employee sickness surveillance process to identify and manage employees feeling unwell. 

Staff Matters - Office and Personal Hygeine

  1. Ask employees to take their temperature at least twice daily and check for respiratory symptoms.
  2. Encourage employees to observe good personal hygiene, e.g. wash hands regularly and refrain from touching their face.
  3. Require any employee who is unwell to leave the workplace immediately and consult a doctor.

Staff Matters - Others

  1. Ensure adequate supply of appropriate medical consumables (e.g. thermometers, disposable gloves, masks and disinfectants).
  2. Clean and disinfect companies’ premises more regularly.

Business Continuity - Employees

  1. Identify critical roles and key employees.
  2. Segregate the key employees to minimise physical contact among them.
  3. Ensure there is a backup for the key decision maker and that the backup is physically separated.

Business Continuity - Work Arrangements

  1. Consider flexible work arrangements for employees in critical or sensitive positions.
  2. Consider splitting employees in the same function into two teams and ensure that members from one team do not physically interact with members of the other team. Arrange for the two teams to be housed in separate locations/offices.
  3. Ensure that each of the teams is capable of doing the tasks and has the required resources and information. Establish a communication channel between the two teams so that there is continuity and no gaps.
  4. Have a separate office where possible; ensure that the alternate site has the systems and logistics to enable the staff to at least deal with critical and time-sensitive tasks.

Operations Service Matters

  1. Consider cancelling or deferring non-essential large-scale events. Take additional precautions if the events are carried out. 
  2. Discuss with essential suppliers and service providers on how to receive the goods or services without disruption. 
  3. Have a plan on how and when to activate alternative suppliers and alternative delivery means to customers.

Customer Service Matters

  1. Identify essential customers and ensure that arrangement is in place to meet customer needs.
  2. Minimise non-essential face-to-face meetings with clients.
  3. Minimise visiting clients, suppliers and business associates. 

Impact on Employees from Drop in Business

  1. If the business drops significantly, consider the following:
    • Cut non-essential spending.
    • Defer projects that are not critical and time-sensitive.
    • Freeze all hiring.
    • Release fixed-term employees when their contracts expire.
    • Use the slack period to train employees and improve internal processes.
    • Continue to monitor the business vigilantly and consider more drastic measures if it deteriorates with the purpose to save the company and as many jobs as possible.

       

Managing Current Employees

  1. Deal with existing employees as follows:
    • Arrange for employees to take annual leave and grant advance leave if necessary.
    • Persuade employees to work part-time or do short work week.
    • Persuade employees to take no-pay leave.
    • Defer, scale down or cancel staff welfare events and spending.
    • Retrench employees only as a last resort.

The Repercussions on Salary

  1. Reduce salary cost, preferably in this order: 
    • Freeze salary
    • Cut bonus
    • Cut Annual Wage Supplement
    • Monthly Variable Component (MVC)
    • Cut basic salary