Business Crisis Management | 7 mins read

How to Staff During a Business Crisis

how to staff during a business crisis
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

No matter what industry you're in, failing to prepare for emergencies or management crisis could potentially cause a business shut down, or possibly even the inability to overcome and recover for the downfall. That's why it's crucial for businesses to prepare for emergencies so that they'll be ready in case a disaster does strike.

In the face of any type of local or global emergency, whether it be a natural disaster, financial hit, or any crisis situation, for that matter, many businesses question their ability to maintain staffing levels and survive during a business crisis. And while this is especially evident in the healthcare industry, which often struggles to maintain staffing levels to provide adequate patient care, the truth is that all businesses are vulnerable during a crisis

This helps illustrate the point that it's important for businesses to prepare for any type of crisis that the world might throw at them, or else they risk their own corporate downfall.

Fortunately, businesses can prepare for such occurrences and disasters by understanding the risks, as well as creating their own crisis mitigation plans.

Contingency Planning

Obviously, dealing with a business crisis involves more than just dealing with the crisis itself. In fact, proper crisis mitigation should start long before any type of emergency ever begins to show itself.

This involves establishing a risk assessment understanding the potential risks that may occurr during a business crisis, as well as planning out how the business will react in the event of an emergency. With that said, here are the 7 steps to creating an effective crisis management plan.

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1. Identify the Various Type(s) of Crises

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When referring to a businesses crisis, there are different types to take into account, such as

  • Financial crisis
  • Organizational crisis
  • Personnel crisis
  • Natural crisis
  • Technological crisis
Therefore, to create an effective crisis management plan, you'll need to consider any and all types of crises that could potentially have an effect on your business. Without recognizing the type, a plan of action cannot be successfully carried out.

2. Determine Risks

Once you've determined which type of crises are most likely to impact your business, the next step in creating an effective plan is to determine how these crises might affect you.

Depending on the type of business you operate, this might include a loss in profits, an increase to your operational expenses, a tarnished reputation, dissatisfied customers, and possibly even a decrease in customer loyalty.

Fortunately, by understanding how a potential crisis might impact your business, you and your crisis management team will be much better suited to determining the necessary steps that you'll need to take to mitigate the crisis efficiently

3. Determine the Steps Needed to Mitigate

When it comes to dealing with a business operation during a crisis, there are several different approaches, such as a proactive, preventative, responsive, or post-crisis recovery approach.

An example of a proactive approach for a company that operates in a hurricane-prone area would be to ensure that the office location is built to withstand high winds or that their insurance policy covers hurricane-related damages.

On the other hand, a business's responsive continuity plan to crisis management might include the specific steps and processes they would take to inform their employees and stakeholders about the situation.

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4. Decide Who Needs to Be Involved

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Obviously, not every one of your employees is going to need to be involved in crisis mitigation.

Therefore, once you've determined the potential risks and established the key steps that you'll need to take, it's important to figure out who will be required to carry out your plan.

Typically, this is going to include employees with expertise in key areas, such as HR and public relations. But in some cases, this might also involve the assistance of external consultants, legal counseling, or the intervention of first responders.

5. Develop Resolution Plans

The next step of your crisis management plan involves developing specific resolution plans for each type of potential crisis.

Of course, each and every resolution plan is going to differ based on the specific type of crisis involved. However, some of the main questions you'll want to answer at this point are

  • How much time will you need to resolve the crisis?
  • What resources and tools will be needed?
  • Will you need to involve your customers, stakeholders, and business partners?
  • What causes were behind the crisis?
  • How you can prevent a similar crisis in the future?

6. Train Anyone Who Needs To Be Involved

Next, you'll need to train any employees or co-workers that will be involved in the steps of your crisis management plan. Since these people are expected to play vital roles in the process, it's crucial that they are well-aware of your plan and fully trained on what they'll need to do.

Even though some employees might not play a direct role in crisis mitigation, it's still a good idea to ensure that they're informed of any potential risks and impacts they might experience, as well as what actions you'll expect from them.

In the event of a crisis, there's not going to be much time to explain your plans at the time. That's why informing and training your employees beforehand is a crucial step to ensuring that your crisis management plan is going to work properly.

7. Review And Update Your Plan Regularly

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As time goes by, it's obvious that your business is going to change in some ways or another.

Be it due to an increase in the number of employees or customers you have, the opening of new office locations, or any other type of changes to your business structure or its daily operations, it's important that you regularly review and update your crisis management plan to accommodate these changes.

During these reviews, it's important to take a look at all of the steps that have been outlined to ensure that your plan is still going to apply to your business.

Finally, if a crisis were to strike, it's important to take the time to analyze the results to determine whether or not your plans were effective at mitigating the impact.

If they were effective, then great! You've successfully created an adequate plan. But if not, then you know that you need to review your entire crisis management plan to find out how you can prevent the same thing from happening twice.

Planning for Public Health Emergencies

It's also important to understand that a public health emergency can happen at any time and that having a crisis management plan in place will help promote collaboration, adaptability, and flexibility when a disaster does strike.

In fact, over the past decade, global healthcare authorities have been strongly emphasizing the fact that businesses need to prepare for public health crises, such as ongoing epidemics or even pandemics that are currently affecting the entire world.

According to the U.S. National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, proper energy planning should rely on 3 distinct pillars, which every business owner needs to know and understand.

  1. Communication preparedness
  2. Detection and surveillance
  3. Containment and response

Creating Alternative Staffing Solutions

When a crisis strikes, it's important for businesses to have a plan for how they're going to maintain their staffing levels during the emergency. In most cases, businesses, especially those in the healthcare industry, will rely on temporary professionals, retired professionals, or external volunteers with experience.

However, if a widespread crisis were to occur, such as a viral pandemic, businesses may not always be able to rely on external support since these resources may be needed elsewhere. Additionally, there are other complications involved, such as workers becoming ill or their loved ones becoming ill, which could put a major damper on staffing levels.

That's why it's vital to plan out how to maintain staffing levels during a crisis. This might involve pushing for overtime and scheduling extra shifts for your employees.

Prevent Worker Illnesses

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If we take a look through history, the 2003 SARS outbreak shows us why it's so important that businesses take the necessary precaution to prevent worker illnesses during a crisis.

Amidst the SARS outbreak, countless healthcare workers, patients, and visitors were exposed to the virus simply because the proper precautionary measures weren't put into place.

In turn, this led to the crisis being exacerbated because those who were meant to care for the sick became the ones infected and contributed to the spread of the disease.
So with that in mind, it's crucial to take all necessary precautions, such as enforcing personal hygiene requirements, demanding that your employees wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, and above all, telling employees to stay home if they're feeling unwell.

Keep Your Workers Informed

As we've seen in the past, health and emergency preparedness guidelines are constantly changing and evolving according to the development of the crisis itself. In turn, this creates a need to provide employees with regular updates on how they should be acting during these times.

Fortunately, there are many online resources that can provide businesses with reliable information on how to properly mitigate a business crisis.

In the end, during any type of business emergency, prevention and proper planning are vital to mitigating the effects of the crisis as much as possible.

That's why it's so important to understand the risks involved, to create an effective crisis management plan, and to know how to implement that plan when a disaster does strike.

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