Fewer companies developing crisis management plans

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Crises continue to be in our newspaper headlines, lead stories on radio and television broadcasts and posts on social media networks. And crises continue to affect businesses in many forms and continue to occur without notice.

But what’s happening where we work in response to this continuing trend of crises?

Are businesses preparing for crises by developing crisis management plans?

Do you know if your company has a crisis management plan or a business disaster recovery plan?

Does it have a crisis communication plan?

The American Management Association did a survey in 2005, asking 105 executive members and customers to determine if crisis management plans were, indeed, in place.

According to the results, more than half (60 percent) of all U.S. companies surveyed have crisis management plans, a downward trend from two years prior (64 percent). And, as we know from a later survey, that figure is continuing to fall.

Among those companies that do have crisis management plans, they also have addressed concerns different from those of previous years. The greatest concern was for natural disasters (77 percent), followed by more traditional risks such as technology system failures (73 percent) and industrial accidents (65 percent), as well as risks from crime (31 percent), terrorism (46 percent) and major fraud (18 percent).

When planning for a crisis communication plan, companies are focused more closely on their senior management team (79 percent) and employees (84 percent) than on family members (38 percent).

More than half of all respondents say their organization has designated a crisis management team (56 percent) and half have conducted crisis drills or simulations (50 percent). And 38 percent have trained key personnel in crisis management skills.

Nearly half of the companies surveyed offered employees formal training on security procedures (52 percent), and most of those that do (90 percent), receive training once a year or less.

The survey also reveals that companies are also concerned with employee screening and selection (27 percent – a high level of concern) and business resumption planning (34 percent).

They are less concerned about travel (13 percent) and parking lot safety (10 percent).

The most striking things about the survey:

• Only 60 percent of businesses have a crisis management plan and that is less than in the 2003 AMA survey.

• Only 56 percent of the businesses with a plan have designated a crisis management team.

• Only 50 percent of the businesses with plans have conducted crisis drills or simulations.

• Only 38 percent of the businesses with plans have personnel trained in crisis management skills.

• 90 percent of the businesses with plans have formal training only once each year.

What has happened since that 2005 survey? A 2011 global survey on crisis preparedness by Burson-Marsteller provides an updated snapshot:

• 55 percent of U.S. companies have a crisis management plan.

• 47 percent of all companies believe there are gaps in their crisis plans.

• 20 percent of all companies believe they have strong comprehensive crisis plans.

• 45 percent of all companies believe they have insufficient plans.

• 35 percent of all companies lack plans entirely.

• 55 percent of all companies believe the rise of digital communication has increased vulnerability to a crisis.

• 54 percent of all companies have full expertise to engage and monitor social media channels.

• 55 percent of U.S. companies have experienced a crisis.

• 79 percent of all companies believe they are likely to experience a potential crisis in the next six to 12 months.

What about your company? Do you know if it has a crisis management plan? If it does have a plan, are you familiar with any part of it?

The AMA survey results were cause for alarm, and the updated survey does not present a greatly increased performance and comfort level on this issue, either.

Many more businesses need to be aware of what is happening with crisis management at work. Ownership and senior management must recognize the problem and the risk factors and then develop and implement a strong crisis management plan for the organization.

Without a strong crisis management and crisis communications plan, businesses can become frozen with indecision during a crisis. The company can become paralyzed without a strategic organized framework to respond to the crisis.

And the company can be devastated and possibly fold because of a lack of crisis management planning.

Do you know where your crisis management and crisis communication plans are stored or placed?

If you answered no, then you and the plans will be missing in action when the next crisis occurs.

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