Sally Hart: A crisis is not something employers can control, but they can be prepared

Hart Sally-International Benefits Network-2016

Being prepared for the unexpected will give an employer peace of mind, faster resolution, and highlight commitment to the safety and wellbeing of employees.

Employers should consider potential risks and review all insurance policies to ensure cover is adequate, as insurers often exclude things like war and acts of terrorism. Emergency travel insurance can cover repatriation of employees overseas, but check exclusions. Employers may also wish to review catastrophe limits on life policies. It is worth looking at employee assistance programmes (EAPs), because some offer specific trauma support.

Employers should have a plan for various scenarios. To ensure employees know how to respond it is important to run drills, not only for evacuation, but also for invacuation, such as to congregate in a safe zone if there is an explosion outside. In times of confusion, people need very clear expectations set. It is essential to create a crisis notification cascade process to ensure all employees are notified immediately.

When the worst happens, employers should consider how to support the physical and emotional wellbeing of staff during difficult times. Ensuring the health and safety of employees is the first priority.

Not all employees will respond in the same way to a crisis, and provision of face-to-face support and counselling can be essential.

When the dust has settled, it is best to get back to ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible, bearing in mind employees may still be shaken up for some time. An EAP can give employees ongoing support.

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It is good to recognise contributions of individuals during the event, and to demonstrate what lessons have been learnt. In the end, the best way out of the mist is to focus on a more positive future.

Sally Hart is executive director of the International Benefits Network, a network of independent benefit consulting firms around the world