3 Steps to Developing Workplace Contingency Plans [COVID-19]

A year ago, no one would have predicted a virus would bring the world to its knees, with sickness, hospitalization, and death beyond measure. With a summer reprieve, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head with a vengeance. We are approaching “COVID fatigue,” even though we have become accustomed to washing our hands, social distancing, and wearing masks.

We know this is not permanent. There will be a vaccine, herd immunity, or a combination of both. Truthfully, no one can predict the future or how events beyond our control will affect a business’s ability to operate. Sadly, according to the Washington Post, over 100,000 US businesses have closed their doors permanently, and the number is growing every day.

However, your business does not have to falter or fail. But you do need to be prepared for change. Developing the right set of contingency plans by identifying possible scenarios and outcomes can significantly help when you are forced to act.

Contingency planning is about preparing for what is next and having policies in place to keep you and your employees safe. That is the key – people need to feel safe in our COVID-19 environment.

Below are three steps to preparing your contingency plans.

Complete a Risk Assessment

First, it is essential to identify what is a critical incident. It may be the accidental death or injury of one or multiple employees, any situation that could attract unusual attention from the news or media (such as an active shooter or COVID-19 outbreak), or any Act of God event (i.e., tornado, fire) that will severely interfere with the continuous operation of your operation. Ensure your plan identifies all types of incidences that could occur in each location. For example, the risks are not the same in Los Angeles as they are in Cleveland.

Develop the Contingency Plans

Remember, your main goal is to keep your business open, profitable, and your employees safe.

  • In the plan, keep employees on track.
    What must be done in the first hour, day, and week of the incident? Sticking to a strict timeline will ensure no important details are left out. Also, make sure all employees know what triggers the plan’s implementation—delegate jobs and roles to employees at each stage to keep things running smoothly.
  • Make sure the plan is simple.
    In a time of chaos and panic, employees will not be in the right state of mind to read through pages and pages of information. Using simple language and outlining each step of the plan will help employees pull together and work through the situation.
  • Look for opportunities to reduce risk in your workplace.
    This may be as simple as developing drug-free workforce policies or having safety training about floor exit strategies. In the case of COVID-19, it’s determining who can practice telecommuting and who cannot. Those who voluntarily or involuntarily return to the business change up the new normal workspace and provide ongoing support to employees.

Maintain the Contingency Plans

After preparing your contingency plans, several steps should be followed to keep them relevant. As the world and your business changes, so must the plans.

Here are four steps to keep in mind when maintaining your contingency plans:

  1. Ensure all employees are aware of the plans and provide regular online training to keep employees updated.
    Ensure all employees know their roles when disaster strikes.
  2. Conduct drills to prepare employees for dangerous situations.
    Assess the results of training and drills and make any necessary changes to the plan. Make sure some of the drills are random and unplanned so that you can assess your employees’ readiness– which includes a comm plan for the virtual workforce.
  3. Review the plan regularly, especially now.
    If there are changes that need to be implemented, keep the latest version on a secure cloud platform.
  4. Keep two-three copies of the plan off-site in an easily accessible place to the disaster team in case of an emergency.
    You will only need this paper backup if electricity and Wi-Fi are not available.


Following these steps in creating workplace contingency plans help keep your workforce cool, calm, and collected when an unplanned situation arises. Ensuring all employees know their role and what to do in a disastrous situation is paramount in keeping your business running smoothly.

SACS Consulting Can Help Develop Your Contingency Plans

Give us a call today at (330) 255-1101 to ask about our workplace training to help make sure you have the right contingency policies in place.