- Senior executives have low confidence in their organizations' handling of crises, according to Morrison & Foerster's global 2018 Crisis Management Benchmarking Report, conducted in partnership with Ethisphere. The survey of 250 senior executives found two in three are "somewhat confident" (56%) or "minimally confident" (10%) in their crisis management plans (CMPs). Respondents hold senior-level positions in legal, compliance, risk, communications and/or ethics at public, private or nonprofit entities.
- The events most frequently listed in respondents' CMPs are cybersecurity attacks, workplace violence and harassment, followed by government investigations, environmental wreckage, anti-fraud breaches, IP theft, terrorism, high-stakes litigation, product recalls, and bribery and corruption. The report also found companies are using outside counsel for advance planning with communications firms (41%), which Morrison & Foerster cited as a "critically important" component of CMPs.
- John Carlin, chair of Morrison & Foerster's global risk and crisis management practice group and co-head of its national security practice group, advised employers to take a collaborative approach when planning around crises. "Consider not just preparation within workstreams but true cross-functional planning; part of the purpose of a good tabletop exercise is to give people the experience of working through challenging scenarios and elements of the response," Carlin said.
Workplace crises can take many forms, from data leaks and workplace violence to natural disasters. Violence in particular has been cited as a top concern among HR professionals going into the new year: 45% of those surveyed by XpertHR found it "very" or "extremely" challenging to prepare for a violent incident in the workplace, like a workplace shooting.
At the same time, other executives may be too confident in their crisis plans. A Deloitte survey released in June found 90% of organizational reps felt they could handle a corporate scandal, for example, but only 17% had simulated their readiness to do so. In the same survey, 90% of organizations that had experienced a crisis performed follow-up reviews and found some elements of the crisis could have been avoided.
There are several measures for HR to consider when planning for crisis situations before they occur, including raising prevention efforts, improving early-warning and detection systems, establishing a chain of command and training those in charge of providing immediate response to the incident. Organizations might also consider crisis planning committees made up of multi-disciplinary teams, including HR, IT, risk management and communication staff. A variety of government and non-government resources can provide further guidelines, including those provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Red Cross.