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Businessmen in masks to show companies aren't prepared to deal with pandemics

50% of companies ill-equipped to handle a pandemic

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Recent reports from Singapore’s Ministry of Health may have confirmed that the island is Ebola-free, but it by no means implies that companies should turn lax about their crisis management strategies.

According to a recent spot survey conducted by ECA International, half of the 189 companies polled worldwide have no policies in place for dealing with pandemics similar to Ebola.

The two most common measures in place among companies that do have a policy are the provision of a safe working environment (83%) and a business continuity plan should people no longer be able to travel to work (78%).

“That half of the companies we surveyed have no policy in place is rather surprising,” Andrew Shaw, managing director, ECA International, said.

“With cross-border travelling increasing the potential for transmission around the world, multinational organisations have a responsibility to be prepared for such events and every good business continuity plan should have measures in place to deal with this kind of risk.”

Three quarters of those companies with a pandemic-handling policy also said they would return any expatriate staff, if possible, and/or their family in the event of a pandemic.

According to the survey, 4% of these companies stated they would increase hardship allowances or provide a new exceptional allowance (5%) in these circumstances.

“In a pandemic situation there will be issues specific to expatriates,” Shaw added.

“Global mobility teams need to ensure that these are also addressed within any crisis policy so that everyone is prepared and responsibilities clear. Considerations include how to deal with the expatriate’s family, knowing who to contact and how to reach people far from HQ as well as defining how much more care, if any, is reasonable to give to expatriates than to locally employed staff.”

Of the companies surveyed with staff in West Africa, 74% were monitoring the situation but had not implemented any action.

Almost 20% were restricting movement in and out of the region, and 23% within the region.

Image: Shutterstock

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