A top crisis management specialist has warned that the Coronavirus and its arrival on UK shores is a wake-up call to organisations to be ‘crisis-ready’.
Jonathan Hemus, managing director at Insignia Crisis Management, says that COVID-19 demonstrates just how critical it is to have scenario planning and mitigation in place.
“There’s an old adage that planning precedes performance, and this is absolutely the case when it comes to managing a crisis,” said Jonathan, who has more than 25 years’ experience in managing crises and helping companies prepare for the worst – from flooding and cyber-crime to airline shutdowns and contaminated food.
“Scenario planning is one of the critical processes organisations should undertake now to ensure they are prepared. Asking the ‘what ifs?’ and putting the right plans in place means if the worst should happen, you’ll be better able to manage and influence the consequences.”
He added: “The coronavirus is an example of something that has the potential to impact on all kinds of organisations, large and small, national and international, and demonstrates how important it is to be fully prepared so that you can protect your business and your reputation.”
Jonathan suggests there are three important steps a business should take to prepare for the potential impact of COVID-19.
“The first is to identify how and where it might impact your operations most. Is it travel? Your supply chain? Or your UK workforce? Of course, it will be different from company to company, but if you can work out where the potential for most harm lies, you can start to put plans in place to mitigate this.
“The next step is to develop the right measures that will help you reduce any impact. For example, do you need to enable your staff to work from home? If that’s possible for even a section of your workforce, you need to be thinking now about how you can make that happen.
“The third step is to think about how, when and what you will communicate to your stakeholders. Open, honest and frequent communications will help reassure your audiences – whether staff, suppliers, customers or shareholders – that you are doing the right things, in the right way.
“These steps won’t make the issue go away, but they will mean you’ll minimise the impact of the outbreak on your business.”
Insignia Crisis Management has developed a special half-day workshop to help organisations get to grips with the implications of COVID-19 for their operations.
“This certainly isn’t the time to hope for the best and ignore the rest,” added Jonathan. We’re working with companies to understand the risk, identify potential scenarios for their business and develop mitigation and action plans to ensure they’re fully prepared.
“With robust planning, appropriate actions and clear communication at all stages and levels, I truly believe we can reduce the potential impact of COVID-19.”