At a recent meeting of association execs, an infectious disease professional gave us really good advice to guide our association activities, policies and meetings - related to H1N1 virus.
1. Proactive respiratory etiquette. Stay home if sick, cough correctly, wash hands.
2. Put reminders on all agendas and meeting materials. Stay home if sick, wash hands.
3. Be lenient with refund rules. Even if just for a year, reconsider no refund policies if it means sick may attend because don't want to lose what they paid.
4. Clean shared surfaces. Don't share computers or phones. Wipe down chairs, tables and desks.
5. Be equipped. Have hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol) and tissues available. Have pens at registration desk. Do not share your pen with anyone.
6. No more candy dishes and think about buffets. Don't dig for M&Ms. If salad bar and buffet meals, have hand gel available at start and end of the lines. Especially if having dozens of servers at buffets for every item doesn't make sense for either time or cost.
7. Prepare for time when live meetings may not be an option. Experiment with webinars, phone meetings, and other remote options in the event a pandemic rules out live group meetings. Look at your meeting contracts and discuss pandemic potential for contract guarantees.
8. Look at office documentation and staff cross-training. Imagine if 40% of your staff was out. Can someone else perform necessary or important functions? Have a plan. Now.
Cindy, I think this post is great. I recently wrote one about associations being prepared for a weather disaster, and I think your points about H1N1 are spot on. Pandemics and nasty weather can both lead to dire situations within associations.
From an 'IT' perspective, are there ways for sick staff to work from home? Consider your phone system capabilities and remote access to office computers.
Great tips Cindy. Also think about policies for the AE to act in emergency situations. These are a lot easier to discuss and implement BEFORE they are needed.
An AE with the authority to act in a crisis can make more timely decisions. I have a set of policies our Board approved after hurricane Katrina if anyone would like to see them.
Paul Shahan, RCE
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