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Marsh and QBE experts on planning for recovery post coronavirus

Marsh and QBE experts on planning for recovery post coronavirus | Insurance Business

Marsh and QBE experts on planning for recovery post coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic is a crisis unlike any other due to the speed with which it has hit and the lack of any economic end game.

A recent webinar from Marsh sought to shed some light on how businesses can maximise their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Marsh’s head of strategic risk consulting, Nick Faull (pictured above) noted that the business continuity plans that many organisations had in place did not survive the test of this crisis.

Read more: Why the best business continuity plans are usually the simplest

However, Faull emphasised the role of a crisis response plan in ensuring a strong recovery. Research conducted by Marsh has revealed the difference in share performance for organisations perceived to have had effective resilience in place at the time of a crisis versus those that did not. One of the core commonalities was the strength of the response of the business’s leadership team.

“Swift, accurate and transparent communication also had a positive effect on regaining the market’s trust,” Faull noted. “And tested risk management, IT resilience, business continuity and crisis arrangements really increased the speed of the recovery.”

The senior risk manager at QBE, Adrian Simmonds (pictured immediately below), noted that since the Government has started providing some information about the process of easing lockdown measures, many businesses have been looking at ways of getting back to work as safely and efficiently as possible. This is not as simple as simply switching the lights back on and there is a broad range of procedures which must be followed to ensure that businesses comply with continuing Government regulations and guidance regarding social distancing, PPE usage and good hygiene.

There are several major components to an effective recovery plan, according to James Crask (pictured below) the global head of business resiliency at Marsh, and the right plan will take into account not only strategic concern but also what impact external factors may have on the long-term resilience of the business. From the impact of economic volatility to how supply chains might react to customers’ behaviours, the challenge right now is to consider all these factors and answer them at the same time.

“None of these can wait,” Crask said. “We shouldn’t be limiting our focus on what is in front of us right now which, for many, is a question around the operational issues of getting staff back into premises and getting production processes ramped up again.

“And the reason for that is because how you phase your return to work will depend upon the broader economic situation and changes in the demand for your services from customers and whether or not the supply chain will actually be there for you when you start production or return to the office. So, we need a much more comprehensive approach to tackling these questions than perhaps we would typically for any other type of crisis or disruptive event.”

The coronavirus has led to a bombardment of data over the last few months, much of which is contradictory and much of it very difficult for decision-makers to understand, Crask noted. This means that businesses need to find a way to weed out the necessary information and focus on making a decision based on a trusted data set.

For businesses starting to ramp up operations again, knowing which part of your organisation is business-critical is essential as this will help inform where recovery planning activities should be focused. Ultimately, businesses should be seeking to generate a very sound understanding of what the financial impacts of a broad range of economic and epidemiological scenarios may have upon the business and its broader supply chain, as well as what this might look like post-recovery.

From conversations being held with clients at the moment, Crask said, the importance of full transparency with staff during the recovery from this crisis is clear. This is a highly stressful situation for all, as individuals, and also as employers and employees. Simmonds noted that in the post-recovery period, businesses must take every precaution to protect their staff and ensure that they are supported as they return to the workforce.

Read more: Top tips on managing the mental health of staff during the coronavirus

“If your resources continue to be limited,” Simmonds said, “rotate personnel to progressively bring staff back on board, supported with appropriate refresher training – this should enable you to re-engage a larger portion of your employees and get them ready for full operations in the near future as the wider economy opens up.”

Businesses must also make sure that unqualified staff are not deployed to pick up tasks that are not within their original remit unless they are supported with suitable training. If new employees are brought into the business during this recovery period, they must be appropriately trained on their responsibilities, tasks and any necessary emergency procedures before they start work.

“Communicating the risks that you’re facing and what you’re doing about those risks and how you intend to recover the business is critical,” Crask detailed. “If you lose the trust of staff at this point, then your ability to recover the business effectively will be significantly damaged.”