Preparing your business for a crisis

According to Deloitte, half of businesses don’t have a crisis management plan.

What procedures should businesses have in place in the event of a serious accident or incident at work?

These occurrences could range from a cyber attack to a fire, flood, the death of a key person in the business, or a sexual harassment charge. We explore the questions you should be asking yourself with regards to different scenarios and steps for prevention and protection against incidents.

Do you have a crisis management plan in place?

If an unexpected event or one harmful to your business were to occur, would everyone in the business know what action they should take? When planning, focus on the root causes and possible prevention techniques instead of just the possible outcomes.

Is all your data secure?

Is all your valuable, personal and private information stored in secure, password protected places, adhering with GDPR laws?

Working towards becoming a paperless business with all your data stored securely and backed up online will go a long way to ensure this.

Train your employees on the importance and implications of the security of your data, being especially aware of things like when they’re working remotely or when they need to share data, that they are doing it in the correct way.

If your premises were affected would you be able to relocate quickly?

Creating a flexible working environment.

Is your team able to work from anywhere if for some reason your premises was unexpectedly damaged or not accessible? Again, moving systems online can help protect you against a loss of time working or trading were your place of work to be damaged or the access to it restricted.

Could you respond to a medical emergency?

All staff members should be trained what to do in a medical emergency – how to call for help and where to give as an accurate location.

They should also know who any medically trained staff are and where any equipment like first aid kits and defibrillators are kept and how to use them. Consider sending team members on first aid courses.

Could you cope without a key staff member?

It’s the old classic about “being hit by a bus tomorrow” but of course, something like that could tragically happen. If the owner of the business or any other member of staff were to leave suddenly, would you be able to access their work and would processes and plans that they’ve put in place still be able to function?

If the answer is no, then action should be taken to share information and make sure that no one person is bigger than the business.

Are you prepared for the press?

Social media and online news outlets can spread bad news very quickly.

It’s best to be prepared if the worst happened, with PR crisis management plans in place, a clear chain of command, and a strong designated spokesperson.

AAT’s Media Relations Manager, Adam Harwood says, “You should have the contact details for senior members of staff, so that if a crisis happens outside of working hours, you know who to call.

Also, make sure your business is in a position to respond, as ‘no comment’ never reads well in press. So having a holding statement in place, can help you.

And finally, be prepared to be contrite.”

12 steps to effective incident management

  1. Perform risk assessments on all potential incidents to understand threats and the possible business impact.
  2. Invest in prevention where you can.
  3. Encourage employees to identify operational vulnerabilities.
  4. Purchase relevant insurance for protection against loss.
  5. Develop plans, contingencies and policies.
  6. Define roles and a clear chain of command in a crisis.
  7. Train all your staff.
  8. Secure and back up all valuable, private and personal data.
  9. Make sure you have clear channels of communication between all stakeholders – before, during and after an incident.
  10. If a crisis occurs, put your plan into place and take decisive action.
  11. Update everyone involved often and honestly using your assigned spokespeople.
  12. Revisit your risk assessments, crisis management plans and training regularly.

What insurance cover should you have ?

Make sure you have all the relevant types of insurance for your business, these could include:

  • Building and contents insurance
  • Employers’ liability insurance
  • Public liability insurance
  • Product liability insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Business interruption insurance
  • Legal insurance

Preparation really is the key to crisis management. No one ever thinks it will happen to them until it does.

But thinking about how incidents could affect your different stakeholder groups, buying the correct insurance and having a plan in place for what to do if they do occur, could be the key to your survival.

Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.

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