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Without emergency communications plans, what are the business risks?

Emergency communications is one of the first actions to be taken following an incident. Find out what happens when an organization doesn't have an emergency communications plan.

In its recently released "Emergency Communications Report 2016," The Business Continuity Institute noted that 16%...

of responding organizations did not have emergency communications plans in place. Lacking an emergency communications plan presents a real risk to organizations of almost any size.

When any kind of disruptive event occurs, the first actions for companies to take are to assess the situation and then communicate its existence to the appropriate parties. For a small business with only a few employees, emergency communications may be as simple as a verbal message to the staff. In larger organizations with dozens or hundreds of employees working in one or more locations, the emergency communications process is more complicated.

Previous SearchDisasterRecovery articles have examined various types of emergency communications plans, ranging from simple calling trees to automated emergency notification systems. Here, we'll examine the effects of not having an emergency communications plan.

People risks

Not being able to communicate quickly with employees about an emergency might cause harm or injury to employees who are directly affected by the situation. Without prior notification, they may be unable or unprepared to respond to the situation. This could result in lawsuits by employees for failing to notify them of an emergency. Additional lawsuits could be filed if employees are injured or even killed. And the organization may be unable to function normally without its full complement of employees.

Operational risks

Failure to communicate damage or destruction of critical equipment and/or systems in a timely fashion may result in the business failing or being unable to fulfill its operational responsibilities. The failure to communicate an operational disruption to customers and stakeholders could result in loss of customers, lawsuits for failure to perform, loss of reputation and loss of revenue.

Natural disasters

Sometimes, advance warning of an impending natural disaster, such as a hurricane or snowstorm, is available. In other cases, such as tornadoes, floods, mudslides or tsunamis, there may be little to no advance warning. Emergency communications plans must be able to tap into internal and external sources of information, such as television, radio and social media, to effectively communicate a situation to employees and stakeholders as far in advance as possible. Outcomes such as those described above may result from a failure to communicate such events.

Disruptive and even fatal situations can result from organizations not being equipped with an emergency communications plan. They are integral parts of business continuity and disaster recovery plans, and are among the first actions launched following the onset of an incident. Lack of an emergency communications plan places an organization at a much greater risk for losing people and disrupting the business.

Next Steps

Systems for emergency notification and incident management compared

Develop a plan for mass notification and improve business continuity

BC/DR guide includes emergency communications planning

This was last published in January 2017

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