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Managing Through Epidemics In the Workplace and Marketplace

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In this bulletin, we share our thoughts about building resilience in our SACCOs and managing through epidemics in the workplace and marketplace. You will receive an adjusted bulletin III about SACCO Generals at Economic War. Again many thanks for your comments.

Epidemics have always posed serious threats to employees and customers and always leave devastating results. Whether viral, bacterial or other biological threats throughout history this has been the case.

Currently, the World is battling with Covid 19 Virus. A few days ago, while aware of it, it seemed far from us, even though we knew it was just a matter of time. However, the President’s directive rang home the seriousness with which we should respond to curtail the spread and perhaps eventually defeat the infection.

Closure of learning activities, working from home, limited travel and gatherings are significant activities that hit our customers businesses directly. Today, my road to office was without traffic and from my office window the flow of people traffic to industrial area for “kibarua” was significantly less. This means this period or year 2020 business will slow down. We hope for the best that we will not suffer significant disruptions.

At this point, I could ask, how are our business continuity plans?

The GoK through CBK in collaboration with payment service providers developed a plan to ensure payment and settlement continues as we reduce face-to-face interactions. For our SACCOs what plans do we have in place to serve our members without personal contact – God forbid, if it comes to that? It is better to prepare for the worst eventuality and them hope it never happens. If you don’t have one, start preparing now – time is running out!

The health and safety of our employees and members comes first. I trust that our HR departments have mainstreamed Health and Safety requirements (OSHA) of our stakeholders and are communicating regularly with staff. Our Member Engagement Units should be in action to reach our members with the right information about Covid 19, dos and don’ts. Remember we have a Social duty towards our members. No other organization should care more about our members than us – SACCOs. Remember to test your BCPs!

Planning for health related epidemics in workplace requires the CEOs and HR Managers to ask themselves questions such as:

  1. How many absent employees we can handle before business operations are interrupted?
  2. How do we keep operations running during interruption?
  3. What changes can we make to keep the operations running?
  4. Can we operate from different locations?

It may be advisable at this point to figure out what policy changes can be made in the interim and keep employees communication flowing to alleviate fears. For those who have sections of staff governed by labour relations, check provisions for payments during emergencies. It may also be necessary to model economic costs of Covid 19 for at least 90 days.

In the meantime we all need to be vigilant and could implement measures such as, sending and reporting symptomatic employees home, limiting face-to-face meetings and allowing telework.

It also important to model our loan portfolios according to sectors we have funded. We could get disruptions in sectors including Small and Medium Enterprises, Transport, Real Estate and Hospitality to mention but a few. Our finance and credit functions could run stress tests of the portfolio values and advise us as CEOs possible scenarios and strategies we could follow to manage the loan portfolio better through the crisis. You may have had that major Airlines could be filing for bankruptcy and seeking government support by May this year*.

While SACCOs are localized or at National level, the flow of people, goods and services will directly affect us. Let’s put our thoughts together for strategies to build resilience in our respective organizations.

We must remember that as we chase performance, these are realistic issues that may befall us this season of Covid 19 and year 2020. We need to prepare early, keep calm and working.

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