By David Klucsik

With colder weather approaching and less opportunity for outside socializing, dining, sports, or school, many businesses and other organizations are considering ways to keep employees and customers safe if COVID surges again.  

It’s a question of mitigation as well as reputation. They go together.

Your reputation will suffer if you re-open your office, factory, store, warehouse or restaurant and one or more employees, clients or customers get sick with COVID after they visit your premises.  It might not be clear—or knowable—whether a visitor actually contracted the disease from your site, or elsewhere.  But perception can easily become reality, potentially derailing your business just as it’s getting back on track.

And once the word is out that your site is unsafe, employees and clients might stay away even if later test results show no connection with the exposure. Your reputation could take a hit as well as your business.

How to protect your reputation and your (hopefully) reviving business? Get engaged and stay engaged with employees, with customers, with medical professionals.  And take preventive steps that show you’re engaged and paying attention to mitigation protocols.  Show that you care and be prepared to explain what you’re doing, perhaps to probing or hostile questioners.

For example, ask if your business follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state Department of Health.  Implement visual guidance for safe social distancing.  Erect screens or other barriers to limit exposure. Post signs with the steps you’re taking to maintain safety in obvious places so that employees and visitors will be sure to notice.  Make face masks available (with your business logo?) as well as hand sanitizer. Implement “contactless” service, maybe with an app or online tools.

You might also enact travel policies that limit employee participation in group functions or meetings that could be held remotely.  Review scheduling for alternating attendance in the workplace.  Many businesses already follow these protocols; you might know of other precautions, too.

And be sure that all employees set an example by following these guides as part of their work routine.

Everyone knows COVID can be cagey and there’s no guarantee that every preventive measure will ultimately work.  Demonstrating your concern for employees, customers and visitors—before something happens—will help workplace safety, and help to preserve and protect your reputation if COVID comes calling.

Princeton Strategic Communications can help you identify, analyze, and prepare to communicate about risks facing your business, whether it’s COVID or other crises.  Contact us for a closer look.