Why talk now? The case for communicating with employees before the pandemic arrives

first_img(CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing) – Your company is preparing for a pandemic, but your employees aren’t. Can that possibly make sense?Companies have their reasons for hesitating to communicate with employees about a possible future pandemic. The four reasons I hear most often:Companies don’t want to scare people.Companies don’t have their ducks in a row yet.Getting anybody to listen is hard.There’s nothing for employees to do anyway.I want to respond here to #4. The fact is you actually need employees to do the following before a pandemic begins.You need employees to know that influenza pandemics are unpredictableThe next pandemic may start tomorrow, or it may not come for years. When it comes, it may be so mild we’ll wonder why we worried, or so severe we’ll think all our preparations were for naught. Preparedness starts with resilience; it is mostly about getting ready for the unexpected.You need employees to prepare at homeCompanies have a deep continuity stake in their employees’ home pandemic preparedness. The value of masks and hand sanitizers in the workplace goes way down if employees don’t have them or don’t use them at home. An employee who gets the flu on the bus will be lost to the company as surely as one who gets the flu at work. Healthy employees are likelier to come to work in a pandemic if they believe their families are adequately prepared and adequately protected. Helping your employees get ready at home is thus a major piece of helping your company have a workforce when the pandemic comes.You need employees to prepare at workNo matter where your company stands in the endless tug-of-war between centralization and decentralization of operations, manufacturing, sales and marketing, and other functions, a serious pandemic will be a big-time decentralizer. To a greater extent than you’re probably planning for, facilities, departments, and small local work groups will be on their own. Just as your supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link, your company’s ability to cope internally will depend on local and even individual preparedness.I sometimes ask clients who seek my advice on something other than pandemic risk communication what they’re doing to get ready for a pandemic. Usually I’m assured that somebody is looking into that. “But what about you?” I ask. “What’s your role in the company’s pandemic preparedness?” I’m not hearing many answers yet.You need employees to prepare emotionallyGetting ready for a crisis is as much about emotional preparedness as logistical preparedness. When people first become aware of a terrifying new threat, they normally go through what’s called an adjustment reaction. They imagine what the crisis might be like, rehearsing some of what they will probably feel when the time comes. People who have gone through their adjustment reaction before a crisis can cope much better than people who go through this unavoidable stage belatedly, while the crisis is raging.You need employees to know how your company has preparedIf you expect them to implement your pandemic plan when the time comes, then employees need to know about it beforehand. At the very least, they need to know that you have one. Employees are also much likelier to come to work in a pandemic if they know what sort of preparations have been made in their workplace.You need employees to help your company prepareRead the New York Academy of Medicine report, “Redefining Readiness: Terror Planning Through the Eyes of the Public,” by Roz D. Lasker, MD.Her 2004 study convincingly demonstrates that most government terrorism-response plans are close to useless because they were developed without significant citizen involvement. Lasker asked people how they would react in specified terrorism scenarios. They told her they wouldn’t react the way planners thought they would. And then they told her how the plans had to change. Many company pandemic plans have the same fatal defect: insufficient employee involvement.You need employees to see you as a useful source of pandemic informationAfter the virus hits the fan, pandemic information (and misinformation) will be everywhere. Competition for your employees’ attention will be fierce. Now is the time to establish in their minds that your company is a relevant and reliable supplement to official sources of pandemic information. When planning your pandemic preparedness messaging, then, consider this important question: What should you say now that will predispose employees to listen to what you have to say then? Suppose you put out messages now that sound extremely confident and extremely reassuring about the state of your preparedness, for example. If a pandemic begins and turns out much tougher than you predicted, you will already have forfeited much of your credibility with employees.You need employees to think through their conflicting pandemic responsibilitiesIn a severe pandemic, healthy employees will face a crucial dilemma: come to work or stay home. Nobody knows how anybody (your employees included) will resolve this dilemma when the time comes to face it. But we do know that thinking about the dilemma in advance will help.The issue isn’t just about getting paid, although pandemic pay policies are an important component of prepandemic communication. It’s about conflicting responsibilities and conflicting loyalties to self, family, and employer. How empathically you acknowledge this dilemma now will have a lot to do with whether you still have a workforce when a pandemic arrives.You need employees to cross-train for their emergency duty stationsShips at sea have an emergency duty station for every member of the crew; stewards aren’t stewards when the ship catches fire. The same should be true for business pandemic planning. You have to shift your focus from continuity planning to discontinuity planning—prioritizing which few functions are so crucial that your company will sacrifice everything else to keep them going, even in a severe pandemic. Once you’ve done your discontinuity planning, you can start cross-training employees for their emergency duty stations. Among other benefits, people are far more likely to come to work to help manage the emergency than to do their routine jobs.You need employees to volunteerVolunteerism is a defining characteristic of crisis situations. Millions of people respond to emergencies by wanting to help. And pandemic survivors will be uniquely qualified to help: They will be closer to immune than anyone else. Nobody knows what the next pandemic’s case-fatality rate will be, but the horrific 1918 pandemic killed 2% to 3% of those who got sick. That means upwards of 97% of people who became infected got better—and were ideal candidates for a “Survivor Volunteer Corps.”Now is the time to put this question to your employees: “Suppose a pandemic comes, you get the flu, and you recover. What skills do you have that can help?” Some health agencies have already started developing an employee pandemic skills registry. I’d like to see more companies doing the same thing (complete with liability waivers). Apart from the immense practical value of such a registry, think about what you’d be communicating to your employees: “There may be a pandemic. You may get sick. You’ll probably get better. You’ll be needed.”Now—not laterNo matter how good a job you do of warning employees about the need for pandemic preparedness, a lot of them won’t pay much attention till the last minute. Just-in-time pandemic communication will be crucial. But prepandemic communication is crucial, too.Start talking.An internationally renowned expert in risk communication and crisis communication, Peter Sandman speaks and consults widely on communication aspects of pandemic preparedness. Dr. Sandman, Deputy Editor, contributes an original column to CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing every other week. Most of his risk communication writing is available without charge at the Peter Sandman Risk Communication Web Site, which includes an index of pandemic-related writing on the site.last_img read more

Swedish climate activist wins ‘Alternative Nobel’

first_imgCOPENHAGEN – Swedish climate activistGreta Thunberg is among four people named Wednesday as the winners of a RightLivelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel.” Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 23, 2019. Thunberg is being recognized “forinspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflectingscientific facts,” the prize foundation said.center_img It added that the 16-year-old, who hasbeen nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, “personifies the notion that everyonehas the power to create change. Her example has inspired and empowered peoplefrom all walks of life to demand political action.” (AP)last_img

UPV urges victims: Come out, file complaints vs campus ‘sex predators’

first_img“UP cannot act without a complainant nga ma-come forward kag mag-claim nga ako ni ang na-violate, ako ang gin-abuse because without this – especially  sa social media nga allegations lang – we really have no way verifying at this point,” Regalado pointed out during yesterday’s press conference in Little Theater of UP-Iloilo City campus. ILOILO City – The University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) campus in Miag-ao, Iloilo has urged all its constituents who have been victims of sexual harassment or those whose rights have been violated by sexualization and objectification in online messaging and social media platforms to come forward and get in touch with Anti-Sexual Harassment Office (OASH).   This came after a Twitter account “Manyaks of UPV” posted what have now become viral screenshots of a group chat whose members appeared to have shared nude photos of young women, allegedly including their exes and friends, and made sexually objectifying comments. These triggered emotional submissions from mostly female UPV students and alumni claiming they were harassed or even raped. “UP cannot act without a complainant nga ma-come forward kag mag-claim nga ako ni ang na-violate, ako ang gin-abuse because without this – especially sa social media nga allegations lang – we really have no way verifying at this point,” says Atty. Nellie Regalado, legal counsel of University of the Philippines Visayas. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN She assured that due process will be given both sides once they received formal complaints from possible victims. “We are already started gathering the facts and then turned that to fact finding committee later,” Gumban said./PN UPV is set to create fact-finding committees this week “to ensure accountability at the soonest possible time.” As of this writing, UPV’s OASH has yet to receive a formal complaint from victim/s (either students or other members of UPV community) that their rights were violated and harassed in relation to the issue. “As of now, there have been no formal complaint files yet but there are reports which we act on as soon as may ara, that’s why we are encouraging those who feel nga na-violate ang rights or na-harass to come out because this is how we can implement ang amon measures in placed para mag-protect sa amon community sa UPV,” Regalado said. Atty. Nellie Regalado, legal counsel of UPV, said the school has always been advocating for the rights of each of every member of the community. For her part Professor Ann Gumban, vice chancellor for administration of UPV, said they have rolled out preliminary probe and her office is currently gathering more information about the issue. Professor Ricardo Babaran, chancellor of UPV, Professor Ann Gumban, vice chancellor for administration, Professor Josie Rojo, head of OASH, and Professor Martin Genodepa, vice chancellor for planning and development were also present during the event. Meanwhile, Rojo disclosed that OASH has received complaints through text messages – mostly from students that are still affiliated to UPV and some were from the school’s former students. “We need a bigger picture, what is happening outside, to our students, to other members of UPV and how can we help improve whatever situation nga ara kami subong,” Regalado said. “We cannot give information on what are these specific complaints. However, some of them already voice out their concerned in social media and I think may idea naman kamo,” Rojo explained. Thus, she encouraged victims to come out so that the allegations will be investigated and appropriate actions will be taken against perpetuators. According to Regalado, the fact finding committee “would necessarily dealt on who is guilty of which is not guilty.” last_img read more

Gallery: Pearl Washington throughout his Syracuse career

first_img Related Stories Kenny Smith on Dwayne ‘Pearl’ Washington: ‘He made (New York City basketball) what it was’WATCH: Pearl Washington hits game-winning halfcourt buzzer-beater as freshmanJim Boeheim pays emotional tribute to late Syracuse great Pearl WashingtonPearl Washington’s top 5 moments as a Syracuse basketball playerStorify: Sports world mourns the death of Syracuse basketball legend Dwayne ‘Pearl’ Washington Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 20, 2016 at 8:52 pmcenter_img Commentslast_img