Take Care of Your People and Your People Will Take Care of Your Business

Dr. Jeremy Boccabello and Curtis Bartell — Covenant Park Consulting, Fairfax, Virginia

As humanity grapples with the spread of COVID-19 globally, the emotional response is to do something, anything, everything. But how do we take that energy and successfully adapt? Most prudent organizations have had on their radar more visible threats like hurricanes, earthquakes, power outages, terrorism, and war. The quiet pervasiveness of a pandemic seems to have caught us by surprise. But is adapting to a pandemic really that different?

The good news is that proven principles still apply. We have many of the right tools (e.g., corporate crisis management, business continuity, supply chain assurance, security, etc.). We still need to know how we plan to address risks and how we will set priorities. COVID-19 has brought to the fore one of the most important tools, which was already growing in importance: protecting the well-being of the people that keep our businesses going. In an economy driven by knowledge and specialized technical skills, our people are the repository of much of the value our customers pay for and essential to both the generation of revenue and the controlling of expenses. Companies are now realizing this once-neglected factor must be front and center in the management of enterprise risk.

Companies have leaned heavily on governments to take responsibility for the well-being of their employees when a disaster emerges. But now the deep relationship between the way a company operates, the well-being of its teams, and its ability to generate revenue is causing many to rethink the prudence of that (often blind) outsourcing of risk. Instead they are assuring the well-being of their teams a part of their operating model. The idea of “Take care of your people and your people will take care of your business” is being raised to a new level of awareness and seriousness.

Robust, risk-based, integrated disaster preparedness systems including a means to sustain personnel in disruptions will in turn sustain revenue drivers, keep customers, and provide a market discriminator.

The following fundamental principles of building resilience still apply as companies work towards operating in a world in which the age-old specter of widespread disease will always be a possibility:

  1. Know what drives your value and the specific roles your people play in that.
  2. Know what threatens them, how they are vulnerable, and what it would cost you if you lost them.
  3. Prioritize the risks to your people based on this understanding.
  4. Decide, looking together at this picture, on how to invest in ways to reduce that risk.
  5. Achieve your goal of continuing to drive value in an ever-changing environment.

A new paradigm is emerging in which both the public and private sectors are implementing measures to protect their workforce to keep doing what they do. Each sector faces different challenges depending on the environments to which their teams are exposed. But the path towards a more resilient world will be achieved by integrating a new level of sustaining our people into the way we do business.


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