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Are you ready to deal with a pandemic or natural disaster? How about a labor strike or sudden civil unrest? When preparing for a workforce crisis, here are five simple steps to follow.

When an employee or two can’t make it to work because they’re sick, the whole team or department is affected. Tasks are re-assigned, meetings moved, and deadlines delayed—or even missed. If only a of couple employees can’t make it to work, the effects are noticeable and workflows are interrupted. Now, imagine if a whole department, or even your entire workforce, didn’t show up. It may seem unthinkable, but a crisis can strike at any moment. Are you ready to deal with a flu pandemic? How about a labor strike or sudden civil unrest? Terrorist incidents and even acts of war are, sadly, increasing threats. For these and other types of crises or emergencies, do you have a system in place to keep your business afloat?

Should a catastrophe occur, it’s so important to have a crisis preparedness system in place that can quickly assess remaining employees in order to understand who has the critical skills needed to carry out key tasks and what skills gaps now exist within your workforce. If no employees remain, the system should also allow you to identify new hires that will fit all the criteria needed for each role.

Types of Crises the Might Affect Your Workforce

For many organizational leaders, a crisis that would affect the company at such a scale that it would have a serious and lasting impact may seem improbable. However, being unprepared for a crisis could actually force some companies to permanently close their doors. Some types of crises that all organizations should be aware of and have a plan for are:

  • Natural disasters
  • Strikes, labor actions, and other sudden mass departures of key people
  • Epidemics and pandemics
  • Economic collapse
  • Acts of war, aggression and civil unrest

When a crisis develops, there are sure to be a myriad of questions for which you won’t have answers. Don’t let “how will I replace my workforce?” be one of them. With some careful planning, workflows implemented, and procedures put in place ahead of time, you can create a crisis preparedness system that will ensure business continuity.

5 Simple Steps for Preparing for a Workforce Crisis

1.) Define and Implement a Competency Management System. If it isn’t already clear, supervisors, managers, and other leadership should meet to discuss the organization’s overall core competencies and the best way to track and analyze each department’s and team’s competencies, as well as what it takes to carry out tasks completed by each role within your organization. The best way to gather this information is to implement a competency management system that includes competency management software, assesses skills, deploys leadership development initiatives, and maps out succession plans. Read more on our blog about creating a comprehensive competency management system for your organization.

2.) Appoint Crisis Preparedness Leadership Roles. Choose existing leaders within your company and ask them to participate in crisis preparedness efforts. Define and clearly communicate what crisis preparedness tasks are expected to be completed, and when. Request a quarterly or bi-monthly report to understand what crisis preparedness efforts have begun, how they can be improved, and how long it will take for your company to be effectively prepared for a crisis. With a working timeline in place, set crisis preparedness goals and communicate your expectations to leadership.

3.) Use Competency Management Software. One of the most important pieces of a competency management plan is the software. To adequately catalog employee skills with the ability to assess current skill sets and identify skills gaps, competency management software is essential. Avilar’s WebMentor Skills™ is comprehensive skills assessment software that gathers critical skills data and tests employee capabilities to help leadership make improved training, staffing, and planning decisions. By regularly evaluating and testing employees through WebMentor Skills™, companies can assess their current workforce capabilities, as well as plan for future improvement.

With competency management software in place, your organization will have the tools it needs  to make informed decisions about the best course of action in response to a workforce crisis.

4.) Prepare Competency Management Assessments. To best understand where your workforce currently stands skills-wise, it’s important to regularly administer staff assessments. Through assessments and evaluations, leadership can understand which employees possess critical skills, who might be able to step into their role should a crisis occur, or what would be required in terms of experience and personality if a new hire was required. Learn more about the key features of competency-based assessments.

5.) Implement Leadership Development and Cross-Training Initiatives. While leadership development and cross-training initiatives are useful no matter the circumstances, having the initiative in place during a workforce crisis could be what makes or breaks your company. If there are individuals ready to take on responsibilities previously held by employees who have exited the organization, it could save you time and money that would otherwise be spent on finding replacements, training, and even a salary increase for that role if you’re in crisis mode.

Additionally, if you’re trying to fill roles quickly because your organization is experiencing a crisis, it’s more likely that you would choose a candidate who doesn’t fit your corporate culture. This could cost your company even more time and money rectifying the hiring blunder. If your company has ongoing leadership development and cross-training activities implemented, you can avoid hiring unsuitable employees.

With these five steps, leadership within your organization can ascertain which skills the lost employees had, which remaining staff members could take up the slack or move into critical vacancies, and how to further develop replacement employee skills.

Contact us today to find out how Avilar’s competency management software, WebMentor Skills™, can help to ensure business continuity in the face of a workforce crisis.