HR needs to re-evaluatebusiness continuity plans

Dawn Spalding

Legal editor

With the UK terror threat level now at ‘severe’ and the high-profile floods wreaking havoc (see news analysis, p8), HR needs to re-evaluate and step up its own business continuity efforts.

Gaping flaws were exposed in business continuity plans (BCP) following London’s 7/7 bombings, yet, two years on, too many organisations are still dismissing business continuity on the basis that they are unlikely to experience a serious event such as a terrorist attack.

A recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute found that less than half of UK organisations are preparing for business disruption, despite fears of upheaval caused by extreme weather conditions and staff loss. And while 78% believe that business continuity is of high importance, only 48% have a BCP covering critical areas. Even where they do exist, they are often inadequate, and there remains a pressing need to address the people aspects of business continuity management. And the less-than-impressive figures relating to those organisations that actually carry out practice runs is even more worrying.

In the event of a disaster, HR would be expected to take the lead in almost all organisations with formal BCPs, according to an IRS survey earlier this year.

So can you honestly say that your organisation is confident that it has taken the necessary preventative steps? Are you being as proactive as you can, reassuring your staff and offering guidance through emergency briefings and updates via the company intranet?

There’s no doubt that business continuity needs to be driven by the whole organisation, with the ultimate responsibility laid firmly at the feet of the board directors, but HR is in a key position to drive disaster recovery forward.

The shocking events of the past few weeks should serve as yet another wake-up call for organisations to eliminate risk and prepare staff for the unknown. In this uncertain world, there is no room for complacency, and HR must be prepared to play its part in ensuring readiness to deal with emergencies, should the unthinkable happen.

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