The COVID-19 outbreak may have unfortunately uncovered some holes in your nonprofit policies, processes and analysis. That’s ok. The good news is that you’ve probably experienced few crises or have weathered them heartily thus far. I think we can all agree that this pandemic is unlike anything we’ve experienced, however. Use this time to review and update some key items that can help you now and down the road.
Keep Staff Informed by Committing to Weekly Communication
When creating certainty, communication wins every time. Period. Demonstrating that you are taking a proactive, yet prudent approach will go a long way to calming any fears or concerns. Based on the actions suggested below, determine your course of action and use that as your first all-staff email. Publish something this week if you have not already.
While you may not have answers to everything (like travel policies), do communicate that such decisions will be forthcoming. Lastly, ask for suggestions from your team on any of the below. Calmly navigating through any situation is a team sport.
Heighten the Level of Workplace Safety & Cleanliness
Because the workplace is a gathering place for your team and customers, think about taking measures to ramp up safety and hygiene. (Honestly, this is always a good idea.)
- Community Commitment to Shared Spaces: Place hand sanitizers & tissues in more locations, particularly entrances, time clocks, kitchens and conference rooms.
- Pay for Regular, Deep Cleaning: Ask cleaning staff to increase sanitization of shared work-surfaces—door handles, conference room tables, printers and copy machines, breakroom tables, etc.
- Personal Commitment to Clean Workspaces: Provide staff what they need to keep their personal work surfaces clean.
- Require Online Safety Training: Provide safety training for employees who work in public spaces, must travel, or go on site to customer locations. Keep up to date on the latest preventative measures as they continue to become available.
- Contact Insurance & Stay Home: Re-publish any remote medical resources that are part of your insurance plan (Many staff forget about this as an option). Additionally, enforce a strong work-from-home policy if staff is sick.
Update Your Travel, Work-from-Home and Leave of Absence (LOA) Policies
Many organizations have issued travel bans and voluntary work-from-home policies. Determine what is right for your organization based on geographic location, type of business and business needs. Let us remember that we need to be safe, but also support business continuity. Here are some actions to take:
- Publish Your Work Travel Policy Now: Update your work travel policy to balance staff safety and business continuity. Use the CDC as a reference for when to change your policy to either lift or restrict travel based on travel health notices. This is the hardest area to navigate at the moment. A logical action is to limit all non-essential travel where there are Level 3 travel warnings.
- Set Up Work-from-Home Guidelines & Tools: Establish clear work-from-Home guidelines, standard tools and expectations. If your business can maintain continuity via remote work, act quickly to standardize communication tools (Microsoft Teams, Slack or project management software), online meeting tools (Zoom, WebEx, etc.) and policies for “being online and available” during specific time frames. A leader’s biggest concern is that when people are working for home, they are “slacking off”. This is a great time to change perception by inspiring your team to be responsible.
- Refresh Leave-of-Absence Policies: Review, update and publish your LOA policies in case someone on your team or your team’s family falls ill.
- Be Clear About Personal Travel Precautions: As an employer, you cannot restrict personal travel, but you can take precautions to ensure that those traveling to and from locations with Level 3 travel warnings stay home until cleared for work.
Secure Your Cash Flow
Many businesses are already feeling the economic impact on their revenue. Because a key unknown is how long this situation will last, securing cash flow and keeping employees productive is critical.
For now, here is the quick list of considerations:
- Build out a Cash Flow Forecast: Simply, how long can your company operate if all revenue stopped? This is highly unlikely, but it gives you a clear understanding of your operating runway and what your business can sustain.
- Pre-think about How to Serve Your Customers: Securing cash flow means securing revenue. Because every business is different, think about what you can do in the short-term to serve your customers under your current model today. Consider if there are other ways to deliver your products and services (remotely, from home, etc.) that are possible if an alternative method other than coming to work is needed.
- Get Creative about Engaging Your Employees: It’s critical that you are able to retain your employees so they can continue to support their families. Engaging your employees looks like keeping them productive no matter where they are located. Start to work on a list of projects that can be accomplished by anyone anywhere.
- Talk to Your Bank, Board & Investors: Set up a line of credit, if you don’t have one already. Set clear expectations with your bank, Board and investors related to unknown impacts and action you are taking to mitigate any financial risk.
- Look at Discretionary Expenses: This is a tough one as cutting such expenses is also impacting another business, so please proceed with caution. Use the Contingency Plan to establish triggers for when you might need to take a hard look at expenses.
As I write this, things are changing drastically from the way they were yesterday. You’ve worked hard to build this nonprofit and you can continue to do such that. Work can actually bring a surprising level of normalcy to un-normal times like these. If you are confused, overwhelmed or need resources, schedule a FREE call with me and we can work through this new phase.