Becoming a COVID Safe Business: An opportunity for Risk Management

A case study prepared by Linda Martin, Castle Manager Governance, Risk & Ethics

Being able to declare Castle as a COVID Safe Business via NSW Government COVID Safety Plan – whilst simple in theory and easily recorded through a straight-forward website registration process – in reflection, was a culmination of what felt like months of trying to ‘hold the ocean back with a broom’. We found ourselves formulating solutions in real time that acknowledged not only the current impact of COVID but also the potential unknown future while attempting to meet the changing business environment we were operating in.

Plan Development

Immediately we established the principle of ‘put people first’ – for not only Castle’s employees, but for Participants engaged in our services, visitors, and also any communities that Castle contributes to – which provided genuine authenticity, and a platform for our approach to ensuring that Castle was and remained a COVID safe business.

We then recognized our limitations in that we could only control what was in our ‘sphere’– the next step was to develop a COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan that enabled Castle to have a driven focus and a demonstrated commitment to facing the pandemic ‘challenge’ head on for the things that we could control. Castle’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan provided an over-arching platform for the 3 Levels of Castle’s response:

· Level 1: Prevention & Preparedness

· Level 2: Respond & Adapt

· Level 3: Recovery & Rebound

These levels need to be formulated and implemented in a manner that provided assurance to, and maintain compliance of, multiple legislations, key funding bodies and Government department & agencies. The COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan also had to sit as a part of and be aligned to Castle established Risk Management Framework.

Plan Implementation

For any organization or business to ‘live and breathe’ a plan developed at a corporate level presents its own challenges.

To empower Castle’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan to be a ‘living plan’, the implementation documents provided to the operational areas of the business and management offered a comprehensive breakdown from both a Corporate standpoint and what was required to be adopted a ‘local’ level.

The staged Implementation (consistent with the 3 levels of Castle’s COVID response) coupled together with constant analysis against any external influencing legislative requirements, Health Orders and funding body requirements; and Castle’s established Policies and processes ensures the Plan’s ongoing relevance to Castle’s business operations.

Each component of our Implementation was able to be allocated and managed with a project-like approach, and celebrated as a win when the end to end process was achieved.

Reflections and Learnings

Whilst many business and organisations would agree the COVID-19 Pandemic has had many negative impacts – whether they be strategically, financial, people & safety, and reputational & brand – it can also be viewed as a rare and hopefully once in a lifetime experience, and opportunity for the field of Risk Management.

As a professional Risk Manager, when and where else will I experience an entire organisations shutdown across a 2 week turn around? We were given the opportunity to unpack years of ‘normal’ practices, rebuild our servicing and systems, business operations, workforce model and stress test our Risk Management system to the ultimate level.

I am proud to be able to have worked with my colleagues to have created a response plan to a global pandemic that stayed true to the Values, Purpose and Promise that are integrated into everything we do. The prominent and important role Risk Management played and continues to play in response to COVID-19 highlights the importance of this business function in supporting a positive culture, to overcome challenges, and help business to look on the bright side towards safe and prosperous futures.