Plans don’t make things happen, people do. Seems obvious doesn’t it? Despite this, many organisations fail to prepare their staff adequately for a crisis. So, how do you ensure that someone other than the BC manager knows what they are doing? Here are 6 Top Tips…
1. Involve Staff In Plan Development – The planning process is as important as the plan itself. Engaging staff, getting their buy in and embracing their input in arrangements that will affect them is vital to success. Talking to people about what you are doing and why it is important helps raise awareness and harness support. Too many organisations have a well written plan that only the BC/Emergency Manager is familiar with. Whilst it may achieve the tick in the box it won’t actually be of much help in an emergency.
2. Training – Provide staff with memorable and relevant training that clearly sets out what is expected of them in an emergency. Ensure they understand who will be doing what. Use scenarios to provide context and help engage your audience and at the same time validate your plan.
3. Plan in Your Pocket – Develop and issue an ‘all staff’ aide memoir or wallet card. Ensure the information is concise, providing key reference information that might be required in an emergency such as the response process, helpline number (if you have one), contact details for the press office, address of the alternative site, a map of the assembly points and key internal contacts. Not only will this help to ensure staff have key information available to them at all times, it will also serve as a useful little reminder every time they come across it in their wallet. These types of cards are a really useful way of raising awareness and providing staff with a practical and helpful tool.
4. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse – Scenario based training and exercises are by far the most effective way of bringing plans to life. Not only are they the means of familiarising staff with plans and procedures, staff often actually enjoy the process which helps make it more memorable. Every involved learns about their roles and responsibilities and the lessons that are learned then make the plan even better.
5. Top Level Support -Gaining senior management commitment to your emergency planning arrangements is just so important. Convincing staff that they need to be prepared for something that might never happen isn’t always easy. When it comes from the senior executive with genuine enthusiasm and commitment, suddenly everyone sits up and listens. Get your most influential and dynamic senior managers’ support and use them to support engagement with staff about what is expected of them and why it is important for the organisation as a whole.
6. Day to day Business – Make crisis planning and business continuity a part of the everyday planning for all staff. New projects should consider it and a successful awareness campaign will end up with everyone engaging in the culture of preparedness.