If your company already has a business continuity, crisis management and technology recovery plan in place, as well as well-established emergency plans, this is a great place to start when an unforeseen situation arises. However, the process doesn’t end there. How do you ensure your employees’ ownership and knowledge of these plans is maintained?
Indeed, business continuity training and awareness are often blind spots in a organization. While annual tests and exercises are part of the solution, other initiatives must be put into action to ensure that not only your employees, but also your external partners and clients are all on the same page.
Training and awareness: two different approaches
First, it is important to differentiate between training and awareness, because although the two terms are similar, they do not have the same objectives.
Training is intended to impart knowledge and ensure the development of appropriate skills for employees with roles and responsibilities in a business continuity, emergency preparedness, crisis management and technology succession plan. The primary goal is to build confidence and mastery of the tasks they will have to perform in the event of an X situation.
Awareness is also intended to inform all employees, partners and suppliers of the measures and, when required, the recovery times provided for in the plans. We therefore refer to general information.
Here are a few suggestions that can be applied to the various stakeholders in your company regarding training and awareness:
When a new employee starts on the job, in addition to the usual onboarding session, they should also be briefed regarding:
- The regrouping sites during an evacuation;
- The contact persons following an evacuation;
- The approximate time required for the company to resume operations;
- The outline of the business continuity plan and, if applicable, his or her role and responsibilities in deploying the plan.
Sometimes, long-time employees are not adequately informed about the business continuity plan, as it was often not implemented at the time they were hired.
Once a year, it is therefore beneficial to conduct awareness activities for all employees to remind them of the measures that are in place. These activities can include online questionnaires, internal newsletters and communiqués, virtual simulations, etc.
Employees with roles and responsibilities in a plan
For your employees who have specific roles and responsibilities to undertake if a situation arises, it is important to hold an annual briefing with them clearly outlining the dos and don’ts. Also, don’t forget about their backups who will act as replacements if the original employee is not available to perform their assigned duties.
In addition, training activities are required. Ideally, it is best to show your employees the business continuity site(s) your company has so they know what to expect if a situation arises. The same goes for the procedures and tasks to be performed as well as the equipment to be used. This allows them to be well prepared to face any eventuality.
In addition to your employees, you should not forget the other people involved in your most critical operations, such as your consultants, suppliers, insurers, etc. They must be informed of the various plans in place: emergency measures, business continuity and IT succession, so that they know what is expected of them. Also, they shall be informed of the different plans in place: emergency measures, business continuity and IT recovery, to know what is expected.
Finally, sometimes it may be appropriate to educate your clients to reassure them. For instance, when a problem hits your organization, they will want to know the approximate time required to take over operations as well as the alternatives. This could strengthen the relationship of trust you have with your clients and increase your credibility as a company. However, this is not applicable with all types of clients and all industries. Before revealing this type of information to your clientele, you must verify if it is appropriate to do so, as it is not automatic.
Furthermore, if you are a Crown or public agency, the citizens to whom you offer your services must know where to go to get the information in order to be well informed, for example in the event of a power failure. You must therefore make them aware of the information resources available. In addition, following a major event, Quebec authorities recommend that citizens be autonomous for a minimum of 72 hours. This is the approximate time needed for emergency services to get organized and provide help to citizens.
By creating an annual schedule for training and awareness for your employees and all others who play a role in your business, you ensure that knowledge is kept current while increasing the resilience of your organization. In addition, an accountability report should be made to management at the end of each year to show what has been done in this area. Following the training of employees, tests and exercises can also be planned, which allows for the validation of the different knowledge acquired and the real capacities during a simulation.
Benoit Racette Services-conseils inc. can help you plan and deliver training and awareness sessions adapted to your context. Contact us now: [email protected].