How Pandemic Fatigue Poses a New Risk for Business

Richard Long

These days everyone is talking about pandemic fatigue, but the issue has a special importance for business continuity professionals. In today’s post, we’ll look at the risks pandemic fatigue poses for organizations and what BCM professionals can do to try to limit their impact.

Pandemic Fatigue Sets In

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people are growing frustrated with the restrictions that have been recommended or required to limit its spread. Many people are becoming complacent about wearing masks, washing their hands, and maintaining social distance. Some are suffering from loneliness and social isolation as a result of not being able to go into the office, go to restaurants, or spend time with friends and family.

These are matters of common public interest since we’ve probably all experienced the frustration of not being able to see friends, the sadness of missing out on family milestones, and the feeling of going stir crazy. In addition, if pandemic fatigue leads to more people foregoing wearing masks or maintaining social distancing, it will be that much easier for COVID to spread through the population, a matter of concern to everyone.

For BCM Professionals Only

However, there’s another aspect to pandemic fatigue that relates particularly and uniquely to BCM professionals.

For BCM pros, pandemic fatigue means everything discussed above as well as something else.

For people in our field, pandemic fatigue also represents a new threat to our organizations, a threat which it is important for us to think about, plan for, and mitigate.

This isn’t to say pandemic fatigue will definitely impact your organization, but it could—and because it could, you should include it in your risk assessment and mitigation planning.

Pandemic Fatigue as a BC Threat

How might pandemic fatigue pose a risk to your organization?

It’s simple: A tired, discontented, distracted workforce is a workforce that is more likely to make mistakes. And since most problems at any organization are caused by human error, anything that increases the propensity of your employees to make errors is a serious matter.

Many studies have shown that when people are tired, they make more mistakes.

And a pandemic-fatigued person doesn’t even have to make a mistake to cause damage. If their condition causes their efficiency to fall off, that can also hurt the company.

What are some of the mistakes a person suffering from pandemic fatigue might make?

They could make an error that causes a network outage or other technical problem. They might make a mistake in carrying out a business process. They could cause a problem in managing a relationship with a vendor. Or they could offend a client or customer, leading them to end their relationship with your company.

There are probably many mistakes that a pandemic-fatigued person could make that could cause a significant negative impact on your organization.

Addressing the Threat of Pandemic Fatigue

How do you deal with this situation as a BCM professional? Basically it all comes down to raising the issue with your colleagues in other departments and with company management and making sure people are aware of the potential threat and are taking steps to mitigate it in their areas of responsibility.

For example, you could reach out to human resources, point out the ramifications of pandemic fatigue from a BC perspective, and ask if they’re taking measures to promote the well-being of the staff. Similarly, you might reach out to IT and ask whether they’ve reviewed their security policies or settings to protect against someone clicking on a malicious link because they’re distracted or not as vigilant as a result of pandemic fatigue.

The measures the organization could adopt might include the following:

  • Developing ways to keep track of the staff’s mood
  • Establishing or updating employee assistance programs
  • Sharing tips and guidance with staff on how to stay healthy while working at home
  • Reminding staff of what they need to do to be safe at work
  • Training front-line managers in how to manage staff remotely
  • Reaching out to key vendors and customers to make sure those important relationships remain healthy

The bottom line is, the BCM professional needs to know and make sure others know that pandemic fatigue poses a potential threat to the organization, making sure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent or mitigate it.

Spreading the Word

For the BCM professional, pandemic fatigue is not just a personal burden or even a public-health issue. It’s a potential threat to the organization—one the BCM pro should assess and spread the word about as part of their regular, ongoing job of protecting the company from potential impacts.

Further Reading

For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic and other hot topics in BC and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from MHA Consulting and BCMMETRICS:

About
Richard Long is one of MHA’s practice team leaders for Technology and Disaster Recovery related engagements. He has been responsible for the successful execution of MHA business continuity and disaster recovery engagements in industries such as Energy & Utilities, Government Services, Healthcare, Insurance, Risk Management, Travel & Entertainment, Consumer Products, and Education. Prior to joining MHA, Richard held Senior IT Director positions at PetSmart (NASDAQ: PETM) and Avnet, Inc. (NYSE: AVT) and has been a senior leader across all disciplines of IT. He has successfully led international and domestic disaster recovery, technology assessment, crisis management and risk mitigation engagements.
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  • […] Right now, working in business continuity is all about resiliency. People are getting tired and letting their guard down. Pandemic fatigue is creating new risks for business as Richard Long wrote last week on the MHA blog in his post, “How Pandemic Fatigue Poses a New Risk for Business.” […]

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