COVID-19 has taught us many things, one of those being the importance of building organisational resilience and continuity. It has forced many organisations to change and adapt at a pace they might have never experienced before, and it's put organisational Business Continuity Plans to the test; illustrating how important it is to put people at the centre of those plans.

A resilient organisation has a level of agility to respond to disruptive changes that could impact their ability to achieve objectives they’ve set for themselves. A disruption could be sudden like an earthquake or might have a more gradual onset (although sometimes still reasonably rapid). It could even be a disruptive technology like the introduction of the Uber ride share service, or sea level rises as a result of climate change. A resilient organisation constantly scans their environment to identify potential threats and scenarios and prepares their response arrangements accordingly - they have the ability to respond when a disruptive change occurs. 

Glen Redstall, Beca Senior Associate – Consulting & Strategy, explains how to prioritise your people when planning to protect your business from future disruptions.

Consider your people within your wider business continuity arrangements

It is important to make provisions for unexpected absence. In some organisations, the inability of one person to perform their normal responsibilities could cause significant disruption. This could result in uncertainty about who carries out activities, which in turn could lead to critical activities not being undertaken, and customer or legal requirements not being met. You should always plan for the unavailability of key team members and agree on an alternate for critical roles.

Let your company values shine! People are the heart of your business – treat them with care

Aside from the immediate response teams, organisations need to remember that they have an ongoing responsibility to care for their people. This includes:

  • Checking people are okay (both physically and mentally) immediately after a crisis event, and on an ongoing basis as you work through your business continuity plan.
  • Keeping your people informed about what is happening within the organisation, and what is happening to return to business as usual or the “new normal”.
  • Reinforcing the “official” messaging about how to respond to the situation.

Valuing your people as one of, if not the key asset in your organisation is a crucial step to enhance the resilience of your organisation.

Test your plan

One of the key components of implementing an effective Business Continuity Plan is to regularly exercise the measures that have been put in place, so your people know what to do. Before a crisis hits, familiarise your core response team with their roles and responsibilities. This includes delegation levels and the legislative or contractual obligations that they need to operate within.

Implementing a business continuity plan within a crisis can be high-paced and stressful, so conducting a series of exercises in advance to test your plan will help your people to gain valuable experience, stay calm in stressful situations and deliver better outcomes. A resilient organisation sees such a disruptive change as an opportunity, where recovery isn’t about getting back to the way things were done before, but about taking the opportunity to do things differently and move ahead. And, whatever the event, the same principles apply - preparation and people are key!