Resilience Management: From Siloed Response to Cohesive Safety Culture
Shifting your safety efforts to a resilience management approach can help your business handle critical events and emergencies more effectively. Here’s how to get started.
In today’s threat landscape, it feels as if every other day there is an event with the potential to grind business operations to a halt. Whether it’s a supply chain disruption, a new pandemic strain, or a cyberattack with rippling implications, businesses must always be on the lookout for potential emergencies.
Even when an event doesn’t directly impact your business or people, there is still the potential for a vendor or critical customer to face a crisis that could hurt your operations. And with the interconnected nature of businesses today, the traditional framework for emergency management and business continuity can’t always account for the cascading repercussions.
When departments or teams work in isolation, focusing only on their prescribed area of emergency management, it’s common for gaps to appear and operations to suffer. Coordinated efforts do more to support your business through times of crisis, no matter what the crisis may be. One notable framework for coordination is resilience management. Throughout this article, we will break down what resilience management is and how structuring your emergency planning around this framework can strengthen your ability to navigate any disruptions.
What Is Resilience Management?
Business resilience management is the practice of grouping all your preparedness and mitigation efforts together, rather than having different teams work separately on individual emergency management strategies. This integrated method of emergency management strengthens your organization’s ability to deal with critical events by absorbing and adapting to disruptions—aka operational resilience—which allows your business to recover more quickly from emergency events.
What falls under resilience management?
If it involves protecting your business or employees from harm, it will fall under resilience management. To get the most out of your resilience management strategy, eliminate any silos that separate your safety and security efforts from each other. Here are a few examples of plans, processes, or teams you would integrate into your resilience management strategy:
- Risk mitigation
- Crisis management
- Disaster recovery/response
- Business continuity
- Physical security/facilities management
Each one of these areas of business safety and security already plays a role in protecting your business. By gathering them all together under a cohesive resilience management strategy, they can better play off each other and ultimately do more.
For example, when your risk management team performs a risk assessment, they can collaborate with your business continuity team on any operational risks your company faces. And your IT team can work with your facilities team to build converged security efforts that prevent cyberattackers from having physical access to our systems.
Resilience is about more than just preparing or reacting or restarting. It is about your business’s overall agility and strength and how it can absorb disruptions and navigate potentially harmful events.
Approaching your business operations and employee safety from the angle of resilience gives you a broader perspective on keeping your business running and your people safe. You are prioritizing the ongoing strength of your business before, during, and after any event.
“Resiliency is about making sure that we’re able to go forward. Some people talk about resiliency as bouncing back. I don’t want to bounce back. I don’t want to bounce back to where we were before. I want to bounce forward. I want to make sure I have stepping stones in place that I can use to propel over the next situation if I can.”
—Michele L. Turner, Author and Senior Director of Continuity and Resilience at Expedia Group
5 Foundations of Resilience to Build From
Building resilience management into your business—or even adapting your current management strategies—can feel overwhelming, especially if your team already has a system they are used to. But there are a few things you can start with that will make the whole process much easier.
Focus on these five areas to strengthen the overall safety culture of your business while you take the necessary time to work on your other resilience plans.
1. Strong leadership
Like all other business efforts, business resilience comes from the top down, so having a strong and supportive safety team is imperative to this management strategy. Making larger changes to your security and business continuity management generally requires some level of reorganization from a team structure, and without good leadership, your employees will be left feeling lost and frustrated. Lean on the foundations of strong safety leadership to build trust and garner support for your resilience planning.
2. Employee advocacy
Your business is made up of people, and all of your resilience capability hinges on your employees’ work. So make sure you are supporting and advocating for them and their well-being. Just like you are broadening your perspective on safety by building a resilient organization, you should broaden your perspective on supporting your team. Talk to your employees about what can be changed to improve their overall welfare on the job, and make legitimate changes that support their needs. This will not only build a more loyal workforce, but it will also improve productivity and increase your company’s overall safety and resilience.
“I continue to look at all of those aspects of resilience: operational resilience and organizational resilience. You can’t have any of that without employees that are also resilient themselves. So we continue to support and advocate for that area as we think about overall resilience.”
—Ashley Goosman, Risk Manager of Business Continuity & Crisis Management Specialist at Liberty Mutual
3. Reporting and documentation
If you don’t have a good way to keep track of risks and incidents, you can’t effectively work on solutions. A huge part of resilience management is learning from emergencies and patching vulnerabilities. Create a standardized way for people to keep track of critical events and the company’s response. Establish a structure for how your teams report hazards and downtime, document risks and plans, and communicate changes in protocol. You can also incentivize reporting and other safety protocols by fostering a culture where everyone is accountable to workplace safety as a whole.
As with any other emergency management process, communication is your most valuable asset for ensuring things run smoothly—for both preparedness and incident response. Make sure you have a reliable way to get in touch with employees, stakeholders, first responders, and vendors so you can deliver and receive critical information.
But on top of that, you will want to get your different security and continuity teams used to communicating. Often, these groups are in different departments and work independently, so create pathways and opportunities for these teams to start talking to each other. Not only is there likely to be a lot of common ground—after all, everyone’s goal, no matter their team, is to ensure the safety and security of the company and its people—but there is also a lot these teams can learn from each other.
5. Proactive initiatives
Be ready to change how your company thinks about “emergency management” from a foundational standpoint. Since resilience is about prevention as much as emergency response, you want to instill the ideas of proactive decision-making in your employees. Waiting until it “becomes relevant” to create a preparedness plan or set up a new safety procedure is a quick way to run into major safety hazards with your hands tied. After all, many threats are unpredictable. A gas leak or tornado will not give you weeks of advanced notice to get your plans aligned. Encourage your team to start taking action long before it “feels necessary” so you are not cutting it down to the wire or settling for short-term fixes.
Resilience Fosters a Positive Safety Culture
Safety isn’t something that affects only one piece of equipment or one person on a team. Everyone and everything in a business can either help or hinder your collective safety and continuity efforts. When you prioritize business resiliency and integrated emergency preparedness, you’re laying the groundwork for a stronger, more positive safety culture that will prevent workplace accidents and better weather any critical events.