29 Mar

No one can predict when a crisis will happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it. Because your HR department interacts with everyone in the company while tracking business standards and compliance regulations, they are perfectly positioned to plan and implement your company’s crisis management and disaster plan.

How your company reacts in a crisis can have long-term effects after the dust settles. Internally, your employees and stakeholders will decide if they can continue to place their trust in you. Externally your brand and reputation are under the microscope of public perception. 

HR can prepare you in advance with safety and security measures, leadership development, provide communication plans, and offer support during a crisis. A company that shows strong leadership and forethought concerning crisis management safeguards its reputation and integrity in the eyes of the public while providing stability for workers and shareholders. 

What is Crisis Management

 Crisis management is the process of planning for emergencies and creating guidelines for preparing and responding to disasters. It may involve emergency responders, disaster recovery teams, and regular risk management assessments. Depending on the company and the physical location, crisis management may require a third party operating outside the organization. 

Recent events show that a crisis can come in many forms. A crisis can be a nationwide shutdown, a natural disaster, a gas leak in the building, or even cybercrimes or a computer virus. Important decisions must be made whenever your employees face trouble or danger. 

Studies show that during high-stress situations, our frontal lobes (the part of our brain that helps make logical decisions) take a back seat to our amygdala (the impulsive fight-or-flight response). Our higher functioning goes offline during intense crises. When we have a crisis management plan already in place, there’s a lower chance of disasters. 

HR’s Role

 HR can provide valuable crisis management assistance to the business by implementing communication plans, offering crisis resources, providing safety and security training, and organizing succession operations. In addition, competent handling of disasters can protect and sustain the organization’s reputation, brand, and value in the marketplace. 

All strategies must consider employees' safety, health, and welfare during and after an emergency. Unfortunately, organizations tend to focus on systems, operations, and infrastructure. While all are incredibly valuable and need to be considered, HR should also pay attention to the human aspect of a crisis. This addresses the event's impact on the employees, their families, and the community at large. 

Ultimately, the goal is for the business to return to operating normally. During the recovery phase, HR should consider how they can support employees' return to normal or potentially transition to a “new” or “temporary” version of normal. 

Where to Start

If you do not already have an established crisis management team within your HR department, you’ll want to designate a leader to form one. Your crisis management team should include a security specialist, a media spokesperson, the HR Director, and someone who can offer legal counsel. You may also consider having a member from finance on the team that can assess the financial implications of plans and potential disasters. 

Your crisis management team should identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within the organization. Consulting with a third party may be necessary when crafting a contingency plan for various disasters and possible crises. Consider how a disaster can impact employees' lives and the public; what outside resources are available; does your policy support company values; what can be done to prevent damage? 

You’ll need to factor in time to practice and implement your plan when developing emergency response procedures. Communication and training are vital components to navigating disaster; it won’t matter what your plans are if your employees don’t know what to do or who to ask. By having training and drills, you can finetune any issues and address unforeseen consequences. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees or managers for feedback. 

Crisis management planning has never been more critical than it is today. Recent events show how a business responds and pivots during a disaster can have a long-term impact. Traditionally, HR has not been provided with funding or the opportunity to organize safety and security initiatives to this extent. However, HR leaders are perfectly positioned to play a strategic role in ensuring their organizations are prepared to handle a disaster with integrity through preparation and support.

Contact us at hello@deependstrategies.com to talk about HR crisis planning.