Implementing a contingency plan can go a long way toward preparing your business for a disaster. One item that shouldn’t be overlooked is communication. If communication breaks down, even the best laid plans can go to waste.
Here are five tips on how to ensure better communication during an emergency situation.
1. Have more than one way to communicate
During a disaster, you have to assume that communications will be affected in some way. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your company has more than one way to communicate with employees and people outside of your organization.
This could include mobile phones that are reserved for emergencies, extra phone lines, or VoIP. The key here is to identify how potential disasters could affect communications and look for alternative methods or ways to communicate.
2. Coordinate responders
In some situations, it may not be the communications themselves that cause further problems, but uncoordinated responders. In times of disaster, people react based on what they think will work best in the moment.
Take steps to ensure that all responders are on the same page, and know what they should be doing to carry out the recovery plan and stay in communication. When developing your strategy, make certain that the selected responders and communications leaders are up-to-date and aware of what is expected of them, and how they should go about communicating during a disaster. Cross-training employees so that they can carry out other roles can be a good back up, too.
3. Coordinate responses
During a disaster, you will have to communicate with parties outside of your business. This may be the media, shareholders, or other businesses. If you have a disgruntled employee, or one who is not aware of the full situation when answering questions, the impact of the disaster could be exacerbated.
It is beneficial to develop standard responses and methods of responding during a disaster. As a small business owner, it is tempting to take on this role yourself. While you should definitely be a key person to respond to questions from parties outside of your business, have other people in place who can cover this role.
4. Communicate outward
In times of disaster it can be easy to forget that other people and businesses rely on you. If they are not fully aware of what is going on, there is a chance of compounding problems and perhaps losing business.
Take steps to communicate with parties outside of your organization and let them know what is going on, what you are doing to fix the problem, and if there is any help or changes you need. After all, the more people who are informed of the situation, the greater the chance that effective support will be available.
5. Be honest
There will be temptation to put spin on a disaster within your organization and embellish the truth, or play it down so as to not make your business appear in a bad light. This could cause further problems down the road however if important people find out that you have not been totally upfront and transparent.
All it takes is one employee mentioning a “hidden” fact to a friend, and the truth could come out and potentially damage your brand, reputation, and possibly your business. Therefore, when communicating with outside parties and with your employees, be honest and open as to what is really going on. This will ease communication, and could even help lessen the long-term impact of the disaster.
If you are looking for communications systems or disaster recovery plans that will help see you through any disaster, please contact us today to see how our solutions can support you.