P{alybook strategy on chalkboard Keeping a finger on the pulse of cost and cash flow is essential, as is the need to review job functions to see if anything can be streamlined. (Image Shutterstock)

It’s not just individuals who should be putting together a plan to get through a recession, according to a report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic—HR chiefs should also be working diligently on such a plan lest their businesses be left in the dust.

The XpertHR report “How to Prepare for a Recession and Mitigate Its Impact During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic” points to Federal Reserve estimates that some 47 million jobs could be at risk of disappearing by the time the pandemic is done. And while it’s too early to see the directions in which businesses may be heading, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to sit around with one’s head in the sand.

Related: SEC officials urge companies to talk about the future

Instead, it’s time to project possible mitigations that include conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), analyzing cost-effective benefits strategies, finding alternatives to cutting headcount and ways to reward employees without raising pay.

One key area that employers will have to look at is their benefit packages. Employers have been working for years to cut employee health care expenses, and strategies such as employee education, disease management programs and wellness initiatives will become even more important.

In addition, James O’Keefe of The Seabreeze Group LLC, recommends now might the a good time to conduct a dependent audit. “Dependent audits are conducted to ensure that only eligible dependents are enrolled in the health plan,” he says. “Many employers conduct dependent audits every two to three years. Employers that have not conducted a dependent audit may want to consider conducting one.”

Among the other steps that need to be considered—as the desperate quest by states and municipalities for PPE, and for the staff to wear them, has proved—is the need to be very familiar with supply chains and talent streams. If you aren’t familiar with the links in the chain, how will you know whether your organization is prepared?

The good news, the report points out, is that a lot (though not all) of recruiting for that talent can be done via social media.

Keeping a finger on the pulse of cost and cash flow is also essential, as is the need to review job functions to see if anything can be streamlined.

At the same time, employees who aren’t happy will go elsewhere, so if you can’t reward them with cash, you’ll need to find ways to reward them for their work that don’t involve additional expense. Another essential action is finding ways around reducing employee head count, since losing valuable employees could mean eventually losing the business.

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