Planning for the post-pandemic period
An analysis of the history of pandemics gives confidence that the joy, festivities and creativity will return at the end of this pandemic. According to Nicholas Christakis, a medical epidemiologist and sociologist at Yale, this revival will occur in 2024 at the earliest.
Since ancient times, the cycle of pandemics has been part of the human experience, but this is the first time humans have had the chance to create the vaccine to defeat the pandemic.
Referring to other pandemics and in particular the Spanish flu, this specialist reminds us that the population is subjected to three successive phases: the pandemic phase characterized by the current situation, confinement, withdrawal and collapse of the economy in particular, until a sufficient level of collective immunity is reached, the intermediate phase corresponding to the end and the aftermath of the crisis and then the post-pandemic phase.
This last phase could be reflected in the search for unbridled social interactions, an urgent need to spend the money saved, a revival of artistic and entrepreneurial creativity. Despite the many dead and chronically ill, society will want to celebrate the end of the crisis because the end of all pandemics should be celebrated.
On the economic front, Pierre Fortin, an economist at UQAM, confirms this positive vision of the end of the crisis in view of the savings that have accumulated.
In Canada, for example, the accumulated surplus savings reached $450 billion for the second and third quarters of 2020, savings that are waiting for the end of the crisis to be used in large part. The economist draws a parallel with the end of the Second World War when economists predicted a recession because governments stopped their military spending but did not anticipate that the sums saved during the war would take over and revive the economies. Everything will depend on the psychology of consumers and their desire to consume more.
Sociologists, such as Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, professor in the departments of sociology and epidemiology at McGill University, temper this prediction by indicating that if the classes with stable employment and having succeeded in saving will be in this dynamic, this may not be the case for the more precarious classes of society and the crisis could in fact increase inequalities.
These include women, whose status is often more precarious than men’s, and low-income workers who benefited little from the rebound in activity during the pandemic, and who could be left behind in the post-pandemic recovery. The parallel with other crises also reaches its limits, according to sociologist Simon Langlois of Laval University, notably because today’s society has not experienced the shortages or the horror of war experienced with previous crises.
However, a longer period of time will probably be necessary to allow certain sectors of activity, such as restaurants and small businesses, to regain momentum and for society to flourish once again. Historian Laurent Turcot, a professor at the Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières, also points out that history is never entirely cyclical and that the euphoria of the Roaring Twenties, for example, ended with a stock market crash, the rise of dictatorships and war.
Similarly, if the Roaring Twenties are synonymous with strong growth and have allowed for significant progress, they also had their share of misery with, in particular, a massive rural exodus that resulted in the impoverishment of the working class in the city. Another difference, in reference to the post-Spanish flu period, is the media coverage of the current crisis that everyone is commenting on and analyzing, according to Joanne Burgess, professor in the history department at UQAM. This over-mediatization could produce a greater psychological impact and a less obvious projection into the future.
In order to ensure the best possible management of the post-crisis activity for companies, it is useful to build a repository of experience feedback (RETEX) in order to avoid that the return to normal activity is generated by a full-blown crisis due to insufficient preparation.
In order to ensure the best possible management of the post-crisis activity for companies, it is useful to build a repository of experience feedback (RETEX) in order to avoid that the return to normal activity is a full-blown crisis due to insufficient preparation.
The objective is to draw constructive and less subjective lessons from the crisis than a simple debriefing. This feedback, to be initiated as soon as possible after the beginning of the crisis, will allow us to identify the strong and weak points that can be quickly corrected.
It will also allow us to draw up an assessment of the crisis management and to propose ways to improve the organization even in the absence of a crisis.
The RETEX will notably address issues related to the preparation of crisis management, such as team training or the existence of procedures and support documents, tools for collecting information and enabling better stress management, coordination and communication between the various parties involved, mapping of business continuity and human resources to be mobilized, areas dedicated to crisis management and the logistics of the equipment to be distributed This process can be built internally within a structure or by calling on an external party.
Thus, organizing a feedback process allows to concretize the improvement tracks identified during the crisis, to reinforce the strong points and to correct the dysfunctions observed, to avoid social tensions during the return to normal activity and to constitute a real reusable toolbox at the disposal of the managers and the teams.
The prerequisite of this system is to remember that it is not a question of seeking responsibility, nor of judging individuals or departments, but of a tool developed to build an assessment of the tasks carried out during the crisis, how they were carried out and the effects that they produced.
This assessment allows us to consider corrective measures and future improvements. In particular, it will allow to know if the telework modalities correspond to the needs, if the required skills require the implementation of a training plan, if the prevention of professional, physical or psychological risks has been taken into account, if the communication has been efficient and adapted, if the work organization has been clear enough and the human resources adapted accordingly.