Maximize Incident Response Effectiveness: Human Capital/Workforce Management

by Tom Uva

This article is part of a larger series of posts related to assisting mid-market companies in maximizing incident response effectiveness. See all parts of the series. 

All good leaders understand the importance of the people in their organizations.  As we all know, it is the associates and employees in any company which will determine the ultimate degree of success.  When a company faces adverse operating conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a company’s workforce will likely be the single largest determinant of how well the organization will weather the storm.  When formulating and executing the Human Capital/Workforce Management (HCM) portion of your Incident Response (IR) plan, the Operational and Technology experts at Elliott Davis would like to help accelerate your response efforts by sharing our expertise, cross-industry experience, and observations of working with other mid-market companies facing the same set of challenges.

Our intent is to provide you with thought triggers and give you simple, practical guidance to provide you with a starting point to create and/or refine the HCM aspect of your IR plan.  We recommend that you consider the following items for your IR Human Capital/Workforce Management plan and incorporate the ones which make sense for your specific scenario.



Consider implications of and operating tolerance levels of high absenteeism related to critical processes.

Monitor absenteeism (including causes) at a high frequency.

Anticipate the need, and possible mandate, to implement a work-at-home (WAH)/remote work program.  NY announced on 3/18 the 50% mandate.

Identify essential personnel and related procedures/responsibilities in a remote work scenario.

Implement sick workforce incident procedures. Make sure employees know how to deal with a workplace event.

Identify single points of failure and how associated functions will be performed in the event of infection.  E.g. determine secondary or tertiary backups for key roles.

·  Identify a clear chain of command regarding key information flow and decision-making protocols.  E.g. who is allowed to make what level of decisions?

Forget to review relevant HR policies and practices.  E.g. Time off/sick leave, how much time, paid/unpaid, salary advance, salary continuation, benefits, etc.

Just focus on US domestic associates.  Consider expatriates – identify personnel situations requiring decisions.  Plan for how to remove staff and family safely.

Overlook the need to implement protocols for non-company personnel.  E.g. visitors, suppliers, customers, contractors, etc.

Relax the focus on implementing/maintaining an employee awareness campaign on personal sanitization and cleanliness.

Fail to remember the importance of addressing privacy concerns for disclosure of workforce medical information.

Be without a contingency plan in the event of a 30-40% absence rate.  Determine what options should be explored for replacement and/or incremental workforce capacity.

Assume employees know what to do and who to contact if they are infected or may have been exposed to the virus?

We Can Help

If your organization has concerns about continuing operations, developing and implementing an incident response plan, or is working to determine the best way to serve its customers and employees, the Operational and Technology experts at Elliott Davis can help. We have a team of experts with the deep practical experience and expertise necessary to help you actively manage through this unprecedented series of events and keep your business moving in the right direction.

Tom Uva is located in the Greenville, South Carolina office of Elliott Davis and leads the firm’s Management Consulting Services practice.  He has nearly 30 years of extensive, high-quality experience in multiple industries where he held Senior Leadership roles such as; VP of Business Optimization, Chief Information Officer, and VP of Operations. Tom is also a faculty member at both Clemson University and Syracuse University, with graduate-level practices at each institution. If you need assistance or have any questions, please contact him at or fill out the form below.

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