Rethinking Disruptive Events: Is it Urgent or an Emergency?

By October 28, 2020 November 4th, 2020 Emergency Management
Woman in hard hat reading emergency notification

The word “emergency” often conjures up visions of sirens and flashing lights, but the most common business emergencies are less obvious.

The majority of business leaders understand the importance of being prepared for traditional emergencies, such as fires, natural disasters, floods, workplace accidents, and acts of violence. But there are many other disruptive events that have the potential to impact your people and operations. In this post, we’ll discuss other business-critical situations that can be just as detrimental to your organization as a traditional emergency and how a modern emergency communication solution can help you mitigate risk.

Is It Urgent, or an Emergency?

Unlike an emergency, an urgent situation doesn’t pose an immediate threat to your people or property, but it is equally critical to address promptly. Power outages, equipment failures, and impassable routes into or out of your facility are just a few examples of urgent scenarios that can seriously disrupt business continuity.

The severity and impact of any particular event can also vary by company and industry. A snowstorm may slightly affect operations for a software company where most employees work remotely, but for a transportation company, a major winter storm could be outright dangerous. And while losing power is a productivity-sapping nightmare for many companies, it would be catastrophic for a hospital where patients’ lives depend on medical devices that require electricity.

If you were to have a serious injury or illness, you’d likely head straight to your local ER for emergency care. If you just need antibiotics though, a visit to your doctor or urgent care is sufficient. While the immediacy of the threat is different in these two scenarios, prompt medical care—in both situations—is key to getting you back to full health faster. Similarly, when your business experiences a critical incident—whether it’s an urgent or emergency event—fast, reliable communication is vital to protecting your people and business.

Why Communication Matters During Urgent Events

Communicating with employees about an urgent event can reduce downtime, improve safety, and reduce potential financial losses. It’s also crucial to preventing urgent events from turning into emergencies that do immediately threaten your people and property.

Let’s say your company experiences a power outage. By taking a proactive approach to communication—informing employees of who’s impacted, the cause of the outage, the timeframe for restoration, and any necessary safety measures they should take—you can keep employees safer and more productive. If the outage is expected to last for a considerable amount of time, for example, employees may choose to work from home rather than waiting around for the lights to go back on. And by letting employees in other locations know about the outage, you can eliminate needless confusion and frustration.

Perhaps employees need to take a few steps before power is restored to prevent power surge damage to expensive computer equipment. Or maybe employees in your unaffected satellite location can eliminate wasted time by rescheduling that video meeting starting in 10 minutes. By keeping everybody informed and up to date, your people and operations can more readily adapt to and rapidly recover from any disruptive event.

Preparing to Communicate

Preparing your organization to communicate effectively during urgent events starts with thinking about the types of scenarios your organization may face. While some situations affect nearly every organization (like IT and power outages), others will be unique to your organization, sector, and geographical location.

Once you’ve identified all of the potential scenarios that may require urgent attention, consider the following questions for each:

  • Who will this impact?
  • Does this pose a safety risk?
  • How will this affect operations?
  • How will we resolve this?
  • How long will it take to fix this?
  • How will I tell those that are impacted?

With an understanding of the types and potential impact of urgent scenarios you may encounter, developing a plan for how you will communicate quickly with employees when these situations occur is critical. Fortunately, a mass notification system can help.

The Role of Emergency Communication Software

Despite its name, an emergency communication system is not just for emergencies. In fact, there are many non-emergency uses for your notification system where your people need fast, timely, and reliable communication.

Having a mass notification system can help businesses improve their response time during emergencies and other urgent events. When you need to communicate time-sensitive information, a modern emergency notification solution safeguards message deliverability, enables real-time feedback, and helps you maintain vital business operations.

When looking for a mass notification solution that can help you communicate during business-critical events, there are a few key capabilities to look for.

  • Multi-channel messaging ensures everybody gets the messages they need, when they need them—even if one or more communication channels is down or inaccessible. With two-way communication capabilities, employees can quickly ask questions or get help.
  • A full-featured mobile app allows administrators and employees to send and receive messages from anywhere, at any time, from any device.
  • Support for pre-built emergency notification message templates provides the ability to create and configure tailored messaging for the most likely scenarios, saving you time when there’s urgency while eliminating errors typical in hurried communications.

Effective Communication Starts With Transparency

Many threats aren’t an emergency in the traditional sense but can still significantly impact your people, your business, and your bottom line. When developing your employee communication plan, it’s important to consider all of the business-critical events—both emergency and non-emergency—that can affect your people and operations.

When an urgent or emergency situation occurs, ensuring a seamless flow of communication is critical to minimizing confusion and improving outcomes. Modern emergency communication software can keep your people safe, informed, and connected when it matters most. When used to communicate with your people during urgent situations that threaten business continuity, it can also keep employees aligned and maintain employee productivity—even through periods of disruption. By operating with transparency and open communication during all critical events that arise, your organization can achieve significant advantages in business continuity, employee engagement, and performance.

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