It’s something none of us want to think about. We’ve heard the stories. We know the risks. We tell ourselves it won’t happen. Not to us, to our organization, or to our community. It isn’t easy facing the reality of an ever-changing world. In fact, the constant we face is change—and change can happen in an instant or take place over a period of time. There is no way of knowing.
Research shows the longest, most expensive phase of any unexpected event is the recovery phase. This may require repairs to physical structures, recovery of financial losses, and decision-making with long-term impacts. Even a large staff turnover or retirement of key professionals can rock the balance of an organization. Often the costs aren’t realized until a major loss or event occurs. In 2012, an Aberdeen Group report found businesses reported about two business interruptions per year, with the average yearly cost of each interruption costing over $400,000.1
Emotions often run high during these times, which can exacerbate frustrations and interpersonal conflicts. The stress of reacting to and recovering from an unexpected event can impact relationships, both business and personal, and take a toll on mental and physical health. If you and your organization are involved in larger scale incident, such as an act of terrorism or natural disaster, the entire community is affected. Supplies might be unavailable to continue operations. Those required to report to provide continuity may be handling issues at home or with family.
Tangible assets may be lost, but there are plenty of hidden assets fundamental to running a business which may be affected. Data, for example, can be stolen or corrupted, oftentimes through human error. We’ve all heard the warnings to back up our work, but how often do we put this task off? Recently, neglected security patches, such as the one causing the Equifax Breach, or clerical errors, such as the Twitter password exposure, show how simple mistakes can be costly to customers. In our digital world, it is critical to consider these threats to customer security and the protection of private information.
The best solution to combat these challenges? Talk about it. Gather your team, representatives from your community, and others invested in your organization and make decisions ahead of time. Bring a variety of voices to the table to discuss concerns to make sure everyone’s needs are considered. As gaps are identified, determine solutions by delegating responsibilities and tasks. After conducting a Marco Program over a period of eight months, one organization saw an increase in engagement of over 36%, all by having conversations.
After the discussion, document. Outline actionable steps to guide decision-making. Any unexpected event is a stressor, and often the demands of choosing what to do next come quickly and can be overwhelming. Assign tasks with specific and clear expectations using your policies as a reference guide. Inform all employees at all levels of expertise to eliminate any confusion or misconceptions and the commonly used phrase, “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.” Plan ahead to what comes next, asking yourself what you need to address now that will eliminate a potential issue in the future. Set goals and milestones to manage those tasks in small amounts and make them part of the daily routine. Examine the potential financial costs and include a provision in your budget, should something unexpected occur.
Finally, don’t keep it to yourself! Share your thoughts and concerns with those in your community and encourage employees to take that same enthusiasm home to their families. Keep the conversation going and determine who you can lean on if you need assistance.
Don’t wait until tomorrow and leave those you care about without guidance. Talk, share, and engage today!
1. Flexential. (2014). The financial benefit of doing nothing for disaster recovery. Retrieved from http://www.peak10.com/calculating-the-cost-of-doing-nothing-for-disaster-recovery/