I & E (Informed and Engaged): Turning Staff into a Force Multiplier

Turning Staff into a Force Multiplier

Contributed by Aric Mutchnick, President/CEO, Experior Group 

Many companies have taken the time to develop emergency and crisis management plans, and trained internal management teams on the content with one or two drills a year for limited staff and some tabletop exercises for the management team. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to keep the documented plan close to the vest and provide limited information to general staff and contractors/vendors. 

This can be an incredible loss of, what could be, an actively engaged group of people who could provide insights and solutions that improve outcomes when a crisis or emergency happens.  

A major component of all emergency and crisis management processes involve communications. Not only how we communicate in an emergency, but also, the best way to keep personnel informed and engaged throughout the year.      

This can be an especially large challenge as there is a return to the office this year.  Below are a few examples of why including personnel in emergency and crisis management can improve response time, increase office safety, and allow for better identification of an issue before it escalates:

  1. As companies return to the office, it is expected to typically begin at a diminished capacity.  The new conditions of office work make the job of fostering a culture of safety and security even more difficult. Unfortunately, the potential crisis events which could happen pre-pandemic, have not gone away. Many companies typically depend on a small crisis team, and possibly      floor wardens, as the core initial responders to an in-office situation. This can be problematic in the new office dynamic. It is critical that ALL staff understand their responsibilities with regards to safety and security.  This increases the number of staff who can appropriately respond and/or communicate effectively when an incident occurs. 

    An organization we worked with recently is requiring all staff members to qualify as floor wardens.  As it is difficult to predict who will be in the office at any given time, they put a white board up in the entrance and the first person on-site was to write their floor, name, and number so that any staff coming after would know who to call in an emergency. 
  2. Training provided prior to the pandemic may be dated, and even irrelevant, as companies reconfigure office dynamics.  This can have great impact on emergency and crisis communications, and incident response.  Even accounting for staff can be a challenge as a certain percentage of staff may move between remote and on-site work.  Training must be evaluated and reconfigured to meet the altered work process.

    The slow return to office is a unique opportunity to train staff. Another company we worked with recently capitalized on the measured return of staff to provide updated training on safety and security measures.  This was a requirement prior to returning to work and allowed them to capture all staff in the training.  Additionally, for staff who opted to work remotely until vaccination, they ran remote based drills to directly address challenges with communication and anxiety to staff.  This helped to convey the activities of the crisis team and better inform the workforce so that they could contribute to the overall safety of the office.  

Emergency and crisis plans can no longer sit on a shelf. Especially in the post-pandemic work environment, they are living documents which need to be exercised and revised frequently.  

The same applies for informing and engaging personnel.  If they are not engaged with exercises and training, provided specific direction and guidance, they will become complacent and contribute to problems, verses being part of solutions. 

From insider threats, to bullying, actively involving staff members in crisis planning and risk mitigation can be a force multiplier by taking your response mechanism beyond crisis teams and floor wardens.  

Awarded the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Safety Act Designation in September of 2020, The Red Ball Drills® program, by the Experior Group, focuses on-process to look at site-specific scenarios.  It is a comprehensive safety and security review process, utilizing proprietary methodology for true all hazards assessment, analysis, and continued improvement.


Key Steps to Building a Crisis Plan


Learn how hundreds of organizations large and small are using our award-winning issue and crisis management platform, In Case of Crisis, to better prepare for and respond faster to emerging threats.