With the evolving situation around Covid-19, it can feel like we are traversing through unchartered territory. With each passing day, the parameters are shifting, as new facts come to light. It is probably one of the worst human crises that we’ve had to face in recent times. The threat of the virus has put everybody on high alert as regulatory agencies, health workers and governments impose restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading.
How businesses will fare at the end of the day, is not only affected by the central/ state/ local legislations and economic variables but is also strongly corelated to one’s human response, scenario planning and leadership in this crucial time.
As in any crisis, planning is key to mitigating risks and challenges. Much of our planning success, however, will depend on our ‘human response’ i.e., how we treat our people during a time when they need us most. Our objective at the moment and for the immediate future, should be to tackle this unprecedented situation with an integrated leadership response.
To mitigate the risk associated with a crisis such as Covid-19, it is essential to activate a well-defined and tested business continuity plan (BCP). A good BCP ensures that identified critical processes are able to operate at a minimum level of operations defined, employees can function optimally and customers’ urgent needs are met. The BCP outlines the steps which are necessary for a company to operate in the wake of a sudden and severe change to business conditions. The current crisis has called for all organizations to activate it since almost the entire workforce is now working remotely, including at SBIGI. We also need to understand that people are central to this, as is the case with any plan that is implemented across the entire organization. Giving clear instructions to your employees through regular communication becomes crucial in such situations as even the best employees cannot be expected to know what to do when disaster strikes. A well-documented business continuity plan, and employees trained to follow it, enables the organization to respond effectively to any crisis and recover from the business interruption in the least possible time.
At SBIGI, we have taken a balanced view of our employees’ health and safety and commitment to our Customers. During the current crisis, organizations should make sure that their employees are financially and emotionally supported to handle the new normal. For example, at SBIGI, salaries were released early to enable employees to financially cope better with the situation. To ensure quick decision making and issues management, we made sure that the Emergency Management Team and the Incident Management Team are available to them 24/7. In such a time, when people are working remotely, some decision making needs to be decentralized to effect quick response time. To that end, SBIGI empowered regional HR and admins to support local teams. We have also made sure that our customer service is functional and that customers can reach out to us on our website: www.sbigeneral.in or write to us at : firstname.lastname@example.org. We have also enabled remote working for critical employees in customer facing processes by providing the necessary infrastructure. This ensures we continue to service our customers even in these difficult times.
The current situation might turn out to be the new normal for at least some time. The BCP strategy for now, at any organization should be to facilitate two-way communication and information sharing along with the adoption of scenario planning of solutions as things change. This crisis may have forced us to change our approach towards how business is conducted on a daily basis but has also given us the opportunity to further strengthen the trust between us, our employees and our customers.At the SBIGI Head Office, we are continuously monitoring the ever-changing circumstances surrounding the coronavirus. We have a fairly robust, tried and tested work-from-home capability that enables most of our employees around the country to work remotely. Organizations need to focus on enabling work from home capabilities by making sure that their employees have the required infrastructural support to be functional in their best capacity. At SBIGI, our IT team is making sure that all employees have access to high speed internet and is even giving out portable 4G dongles to enable seamless work-from-home.
While the focus now is on implementing the BCP, organizations would also need to plan for stand down procedures to resume business operations as normal when the lockdown would be lifted.
We don’t know what we don’t know yet – but together we can make a vast knowledge network that can be leveraged to overcome the gaps and provide certainty on how to keep businesses running uninterrupted, albeit in far from usual circumstances.
It is understandable for all of us to feel vulnerable during these trying times but there will be positives that will emerge from this crisis. For SBI General, people priorities are at the heart of our business continuity plan and it is our endeavor to always put our employees and our customers at the centre of every decision we make.
Dy.CEO, SBI General Insurance