Holidays have no immunity to crisis

The festive season is now upon us, and many thoughts and planning will soon be turning from work to relaxation over the Christmas period. However, organisations need to remain cognisant that these holiday periods do not provide immunity for a crisis to either develop, or impact their business.

Having had to coordinate the response to numerous emergencies and crisis over the past 30 years, (many of these occurring during the holiday period) I acknowledge that it is during these times when organisational susceptibility to crisis events are amplified for a myriad of reasons, such as;

  • limited staff onsite
  • unavailability of staff to respond
  • decreased monitoring of risks
  • volatility of severe weather events (flooding, storms, fires).

If I were to provide a Christmas Wish List with just 6 key actions for organisations to implement to enhance their emergency and crisis preparedness and readiness for this festive period, and indeed ongoing readiness, they would be:

1. Awareness of Escalation Triggers: Ensure that you will receive notification of an impending or actual crisis event. Confirm that those managers and senior staff who will either be remaining at work, or monitoring your business threats, are fully aware of what your agreed organisational incident, emergency and crisis management triggers are, and importantly, the requirement to escalate this to the Crisis Management Team.

2. Crisis Management Team (CMT) availability: Ensure that you will be able to contact all the members of the CMT if a crisis is declared. Pre-plan and identify those members that will be available, and those that will not. Holiday periods with reduced staff is a good time to maximise your crisis management capability development and capacity by ‘standing up’ some of the alternate CMT members if required.

3. Accessible Crisis Management Tools: Ensure that all the members of the CMT still remember where, and how to access the crisis management tools. Confirm that all the CMT members have access to, and know how to utilise the tools if required.

4. Updated Key Stakeholder contacts: Ensure that previously identified key stakeholders, both internal and external to the organisation, will be contactable over the holiday period.  Seek clarification before the holiday break on what contacts will be available over this time and document and share this information.

5. Clarity of Key Stakeholder expectations: Ensure that your CEO, Board and Regulators have the same expectations of the CMT during these holidays as they would during a normal business day. Seek clarity and confirmation on issues such as ‘when do they want to be contacted’, ‘how do they want to be contacted’, ‘for what reasons do they want to be contacted’. This can be a decisive readiness initiative that will protect reputations and brands.

6. Crisis Control Room Operational Readiness: Ensure that if you are called in during these holidays, to coordinate a crisis response, that the designated Crisis Control Room is in a state of Operational Readiness. Seek assurance by conducting an operational readiness check of the facility to ensure the technology and supporting equipment is working, before the holidays begin.

If you require any additional crisis and emergency capability readiness assurance, now is the time to act.

Wishing every organisation, a very merry, safe and prosperous Christmas, and most importantly, emergency and crisis free!

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