Are your people prepared for a crisis?

Wednesday October 6, 2021

Bringing employees back to the workplace and getting back to normal has been a key focus for many employers ever since COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed earlier this year.

However as recent events have shown, COVID-19 is not the only crisis that employers and their people need to be prepared for.

A crisis is defined as a breakdown or disruption to what’s considered otherwise normal daily life.

You’ll recognise that the following are real examples which have all happened in the past week alone and provide important lessons for employers on crisis management.

Fuel shortages

Recent petrol panic caused by reports of a fuel shortage led to delays, commuter issues and even fights in the forecourt. A nightmare for anyone who needed petrol to get to work, but also for station staff who admitted to feeling unprepared for the sudden increase in demand and somewhat volatile situation.

The fuel shortage may be subsiding, but it has identified opportunities for staff training and commuter backup solutions as crisis can strike at any moment.

Digital downtime

Remote businesses with employees working from home may not have been impacted by the petrol panic, however that doesn’t mean that they are exempt from crisis control.

This week, Facebook and its associated brands experienced a six-hour outage, leaving users (including businesses) without access to core services and features.

From marketing campaigns to customer service communications, social media is key for many businesses and specific job roles. Six hours may be manageable, but there is no guarantee on the length of an episode of digital disruption. Employers may like to consider how they and their teams would cope in the event of an extended outage, and plan accordingly.

Adverse weather conditions

Some areas of the UK received a month’s rain in one day this week. As winter approaches so does an increased risk of adverse weather conditions. Floods, snow, ice and storms can cause commuter chaos or even power outages.

If staff are unable to make it to work or a business needs to temporarily close due to bad weather, a crisis strategy can help those in charge to quickly implement “Plan B” and communicate it to all that need to know.

How should I create a crisis management plan?

A risk assessment can help to identify how a business might be affected by a potential crisis. From there, plans and processes can be put in place to minimise the risk of impact to the business.

Communication between teams is essential when constructing a crisis management plan. All departments should be consulted in the planning stage for the best possible chance of crisis recovery and continuation of business operations.

How can HR help with crisis management?

A human resources professional can help with crisis management in many ways.

Employment law still applies in a crisis but can sometimes be amended temporarily if the wider population is affected; for example, changes to right to work checks implemented during the pandemic. Your local HR Dept can help to make sure that changes to your business comply with changing government legislation.

Beyond the admin, HR can help with people planning, internal communications, training, development, recruitment and redundancy. All of these, plus other areas, may be required as a result of a crisis.

If recent events have got you wondering about your current crisis management plans, remember that we are here to help.

Preventing People Problems

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