A terrorist attack, a high-profile kidnapping, political insurgency, an extortion threat. If you operate in emerging or unstable environments, these are just some of the problems you might be exposed to on a daily basis.
These issues could affect your people, your assets and/or your contracts, and all of them have a significant impact on your business operations.
“Some of the risk can be transferred, but insurance is only one part of the solution,” says Kevin Garvey, account executive at Aon Risk Services Inc.
What’s more important, says Garvey, is how you respond to such a crisis. One wrong move could have a critical impact on your reputation. And, if you lose the confidence of your customers and investors, it could be very difficult for your business to recover.
Smart Business spoke to Garvey about how a crisis management system can help organizations understand their exposures and help mitigate those risks.
How does an organization go about putting a ‘crisis management plan’ into place?
Before putting effective plans in place, organizations need to fully understand their risks. A team of specialist crisis consultants can help quantify exposure by reviewing an organization’s business in each operating territory. It can then assess the threats and vulnerabilities in order to improve resilience and audit the strategic approach to the treatment of security risk, which will support corporate governance and duty of care.
Look for a risk management firm that can provide a flexible consulting approach that is tailor-made to fit your organization’s business operations. Those services enable you to make informed decisions around how much risk to transfer and how much to retain and manage. A good risk management firm can formulate plans and procedures to mitigate the exposure as much as possible.
How does a crisis management team assess and mitigate risks?
Planning ahead is absolutely necessary. Companies that spend time on contingency planning can respond to crisis in a structured way. But before putting any type of plan into place, an organization must assess its risks.
Is there a credible terrorist threat in the areas in which you operate and do your security procedures leave you exposed? Does your travel policy protect your employees, or are they in high-risk countries uninformed and untracked? The process of assessing risk highlights weaknesses and areas where improvements can be made.
Planning does not only aid in recovery, it also may prevent a crisis from happening in the first place. With the appropriate security procedures in place, you will be a less attractive target for terrorists. If your employees are given proper advice and protection, they will be less vulnerable to attacks. And if you monitor the security situation in your operating territories, there is less chance of a deterioration turning into an emergency.
What should companies know about safe travel programs?
Firms with crisis management services are able to offer clients a safe travel program that focuses on personal security and safety for all personnel while deployed around the globe. This ensures that preparation and operating procedures reflect consistent best practices. This solution can be combined with an insurance product that covers a number of perils.
What components of a safe travel program should businesses implement?
A global threat and risk assessment tool that provides general and preventive measures, the production of detailed processes for HR and travel administration personnel, the development of general standards for pre-travel training or briefing, and robust corporate governance of travel risk.
Those are just a few examples, as the consulting approach is to tailor solutions to the specific needs of a business.
What type of pre-travel resources can crisis management services provide?
Crisis management provides numerous resources to businesses. From situational awareness training to region-specific cultural, language and safety training, crisis management can provide solutions to ensure employees are prepared to travel abroad.
In addition to training, employees can secure travel briefs, which provide critical information for their trips. Where is the nearest embassy relative to their hotel? In the event of a crisis, how would they get to the embassy? What are the best methods of transportation during the travel? What cultural norms should they be aware of?
Also, crisis management companies should have some sort of crisis management center: a 24-hour, 365-days-a-year center that provides security and crisis management support. The center should provide a watch of security-related world events giving early warning of potential issues. During an incident, it provides a focal point for command and control of a crisis.
What should a business look for in a crisis consultant?
Look for an organization that has the resources to fully assess your risks and the ability to help you mitigate those risks. You have a ‘duty of care’ to your employees. Your crisis consultant should provide the tools and resources to ensure you have provided your employees a safe workplace environment.
You also want a firm that can assess the local and global risks your company faces, make recommendations around improving your resilience and help you plan for effective crisis response. How a business responds to a crisis and how this is perceived by customers and investors has a critical effect on a company’s reputation. It is important that a business partner with a crisis consultant that has the capabilities to protect that very reputation.
Kevin Garvey is an account executive at Aon Risk Services Inc. Reach him at (216) 623-4145 or Kevin_Garvey@ars.aon.com.