Before the coronavirus, most businesses that had a crisis management plan may have created one that addressed the immediate impact of the disaster or incident. However, if the global pandemic has highlighted any criteria points, it is the importance of being able to deal with the unknown and having a contingency plan for a situation when an organisation have moved into the recovery phase and beyond to allow it to thrive once more.
Over the last few weeks, companies would have, no doubt, discovered holes in their crisis management plan, discovering challenges and problems they had not encountered before. While many would have come up with emergency options to deal with closures, a reduction in staff members or a drop in custom, it is unlikely these preparations may not have included some of the fall-out of the current situation.
Furthermore, there is a likelihood they did not account for the long-term impact of such a disaster, including a loss of consumer confidence, serious debt issues and national economic fragility.
Speaking with HCA Mag, Senior Vice President of People & Great Work, at OC Tanner Mindi Cox commented: “There’s nothing like [emergency drills] for a pandemic that stretches on.
“I don’t know any company that had that all mapped out. Even if sounds good on paper, it plays out different in practice,” Ms Cox stated.
She noted the company has ongoing debriefs about the coronavirus crisis, capturing what went right with their emergency plans and what areas they need to improve on should such a catastrophe occur again.
“Our memories are short after trauma — we just want to move on — but our [Chief Executive Officer] has challenged the executive team leaders to keep a running list of what’s working and what’s not and how we would improve it currently or for the long-term,” Ms Cox went on to say.
Many companies are establishing plans to enable their staff to come back to work in a safe environment, so they can start operations more effectively again.
However, a survey by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (Pwc) revealed less than half (47 per cent) of employees are “very confident” the company would be able to manage workers’ wellbeing and morale when offices re-open.
Partner in PwC LLP’s consulting practice Jean McClellan told the publication: “No matter how physically safe the environment is if your employees don’t believe it’s safe – if there isn’t psychological safety – it’s going to be very hard to get the productivity you need from your workforce and avoid potentially costly litigation.”
Therefore, it is essential to make sure staff remain comfortable and confident to ensure they work effectively, efficiently and productively to enable the company to thrive again.
According to vice president and general manager of HMA Public Relations Abbie S Fink, a good crisis plan will be able to reduce the impact of an unprecedented event on an organisation in the short-and long-term.
AZ Big Media reported her as saying this will be able to prevent future damage to the reputation of a company, retain confidence among stakeholders, maintain employee morale, avoid costly litigation, and protect finances.
She recommended establishing a Communications Management Team (CMT), with representatives from across the organisation, who are tasked with gathering incident information; analysing this data thoroughly; developing strategies for resolution; and communicating decisions to stakeholders.
Ms Fink recognised that post-crisis preparedness is also essential, commenting: “This is a chance for the CMT to pull together and evaluate its performance… It is important to review and update your crisis communications plan.”