Better Late Than Never: There’s Still Time To Improve Your Pandemic Plans

Companies are showing renewed interest in business continuity and revising their pandemic plans in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, federal banking regulators issued additional guidance to help banks and their customers cope with the financial fallout of the outbreak. And a review of the risk sections of the annual reports for the Fortune 50 showed that about half called out pandemic or public health emergency as a risk. Yet, of those that noted the risk, the only impact was financial. None considered the customer or employee experience or impact to the brand. This is a mistake: Currently, 52% of US online adults prefer to buy from companies that show how they are protecting customers against the threat of COVID-19. The middle of a worldwide pandemic is not the ideal time to figure out what to tell customers and employees or decide on a strategy that can limit the impact on the business. But you will have another chance to get this right. Make sure you are ready.

Starbucks Expands Mental Health Benefits For Employees

Beginning April 6, Starbucks’ US employees and family members will have access to free self-care apps and therapist appointments — up to 20 sessions a year—via Lyra Health’s digital platform. This is the latest benefit in a comprehensive mental health initiative that the coffee giant introduced last September. “Mental health is a fundamental part of our humanity, and these resources will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and help break the stigma around this complex issue,” said Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ president and CEO. Given the expected spike in stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing is right for these kinds of employee experience innovations. For more on how to manage and lead your employees during a pandemic, click here.

“New Infrastructure” Is China’s New Hope For Reform In The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting China’s economy and spreading worldwde. To offset the massive impact and cultivate new growth, the Chinese government recently launched a national initiative of “new infrastructure.” While traditional physical infrastructure for construction will still play a key role in stabilizing growth and ensuring employment, the “new infrastructure” is expected to deliver strong catalysts for new consumption needs, manufacturing approaches, and digital services. This initiative consists of projects across seven areas: 5G networks, the industrial internet, intercity transportation and inner-city rail systems, data centers, artificial intelligence, extra-high voltage, and new-energy vehicle-charging stations. Investment in new infrastructure and corresponding services will reach RMB 1 trillion (US$145 billion) in 2020. For example, China’s top three telco carriers will build 600,000 5G base stations by the end of the year. Our take: Though China has already made investments in these areas, this initiative will accelerate the development of tech-driven innovations in the public and private sectors and fuel the engine for business growth.