Most Businesses ready for Flu Pandemic?

Results of a survey from the Pandemic Prevention Council finds continuity plans include H1N1 considerations in most organizations.

If H1N1 hits hard in the coming months, most businesses will apparently have robust plans in place for business continuity, according to a new report released Monday.

The report, titled "Preparing for a Possible Pandemic: Public and private organizations report on continuity planning efforts in the face of H1N1," was conducted by the Pandemic Prevention Council (PPC) in mid-2009. The PPC is group of organizations in the training and publishing industries, including Thompson Publishing Group, AHC Media, Sheshunoff Information Services, The Performance Institute and the American Strategic Management Institute. The group formed to provide organizations with benchmarking tools for continuity of operations planning.

SEE ALSO: A Swine Flu (H1N1) Business Continuity Planning Guide

PPC officials said 1,500 organizations reported on their organizational preparedness in the face of an H1N1 pandemic in the online survey, which was distributed by e-mail and was open from Aug. 10 through Sept. 10, 2009. According to the group, the overall survey results show that organizations have made great strides to prepare against the possibility of pandemic. Over 75 percent of respondents reported that their organizations currently have a business continuity plan, and within that group, 81.3 percent report including contingencies for H1N1 specifically, according to the report. A slight majority of 51.6 percent of organizations reported that their senior management has communicated to the staff that it is very important to prepare for a possible swine flu epidemic.

The survey also found that most organizations with a business continuity plan in place, 65 percent, report that an internal team is responsible for business continuity planning.

"While a cross-functional team can diffuse responsibility and accountability in planning at some organizations, this approach also means multiple perspectives will contribute to and improve the planning process," the report states.

PPC also found a much smaller percentage of organizations with a plan have been led by only one department. Fourteen percent of those organizations with a plan were led by operations, and 20 percent were lead by human resources. The issues of most concern to organizations were human resource-related issues, such as the health and safety of employees, managing absenteeism and sick leave, etc. Fifty-seven percent of organizations responding said these issues were their biggest concern.

Public sector better preparedPPC official said the survey results suggest that the public sector is more prepared for the growing H1N1 threat than private sector businesses. Although a comparable majority of private and public organizations currently have business continuity plans (78.3 percent of public sector organizations and 71.4 percent of private companies) only 55.6 percent of private organizations have plans that address the new H1N1 flu threat, compared to 70.8 percent of public organizations. However, both sectors have a majority of respondents identifying a task force, or team work, as having ultimate responsibility in H1N1 contingency planning.

"The collaborative approach is more popular in government, where 70.6 percent considered contingency planning the responsibility of all functions, as compared to 58.0 percent in the private sector," the report states. "In the private sector, however, human resources, although still only secondarily responsible, leads planning efforts more often than in public sector organizations."

This story, "Most Businesses ready for Flu Pandemic?" was originally published by CSO.

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