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Crisis Communication and Management

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WE FIGHT INJUSTICE IN THE WORKPLACE

  • The Phases of Crisis Management

  • Creating a Crisis Management Strategy

  • How to Plan for a Crisis Such as Workplace Violence

Los Angeles Crisis Management Attorney

The universal use of social media and online news outlets means that reports about business-related crises, whether they involve financial difficulties, allegations of fraud, data breaches, or workplace violence, can now reach millions of people in a matter of hours. This, in turn, significantly shortens the timeframe that companies have to respond to these types of emergencies. This, in combination with the fact that expectations of visible leadership and authentic engagement have increased in proportion to more widespread access, makes it especially important for business owners to seek the aid of experienced crisis communications and management lawyers who can help advise them in the event of an emergency.

Situations in Which Crisis Management Could be Necessary

The need for crisis management in the workplace comes into play in a wide range of situations, including when:

  • Business premises sustain physical damage as a result of industrial or fire-related accidents, or natural disasters and climactic events;
  • Machinery, systems, and equipment break down;
  • A company encounters cybersecurity issues and data breaches;
  • Employees are affected by workplace violence;
  • Public health crises and epidemics result in restricted access to a company site or an interruption of the supply chain;
  • Executive changes or workforce reductions are made;
  • There are public relations blunders and social media mistakes;
  • A company encounters allegations of corruption and fraud;
  • A company faces network outages and business continuity issues as a result of the failure of infrastructure facilities, including communication systems, servers, operating systems, and data;
  • Products fail or are recalled;
  • Companies are the subject of regulatory and law enforcement investigations; and
  • Businesses are involved in commercial, criminal, and civil litigation.

The types of strategies used in the management of these kinds of crises vary depending on the exact circumstances of the case, as well as which phase of the crisis the parties are involved in.

Crisis Management Phases: Pre-Crisis Stage

The strategies employed during a crisis depend largely on the phase of the emergency in which the parties are currently engaged. For instance, during the pre-crisis period, specialists are primarily focused on using assessment tools to identify potential risks and create a plan for mitigating the emergency. This includes taking both long and short-term prevention measures, which can reduce or change the scale or intensity of the threat, as well as:

  • Assessing the facts, defining the contextual circumstances of the crisis, classifying the seriousness of the situation, and defining necessary operational measures;
  • Mobilizing the appropriate team;
  • Establishing working processes;
  • Planning against risk scenarios;
  • Prioritizing stakeholders; and
  • Engaging in comprehensive monitoring.

One of the most important steps at the planning stage is to determine the business impact of various types of crises. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) can reveal a wide range of potential effects including:

  • Customer dissatisfaction;
  • Lost or delayed sales and income;
  • Increased expenses (e.g. paying for overtime labor, outsourcing, or expedited shipping);
  • Regulatory fines;
  • The delay of new business plans;
  • Contractual penalties; and
  • The loss of bonuses.

Fortunately, by engaging in a BIA, companies can consider every angle of a variety of threats and ultimately, prepare for them, as part of the BIA assessment involves:

  • Identifying critical business processes and resources necessary for the business to continue to function;
  • Determining the potential financial impact caused by a disruption in business processes;
  • Calculating the cost of possible recovery strategies; and
  • Prioritizing the order of events for restoring a business.

The exact steps taken towards prevention and mitigation at this stage will depend on the type of crisis and business in question. However, regardless of these elements, it is important for business owners, executives, and their management teams to engage in the creation of legal and operational frameworks for crisis management at an early stage.

Emergency Response Crisis Phase

After the pre-crisis preparedness stage comes the emergency response portion of a crisis. This stage takes place during the crisis itself and is characterized by a speedy response to minimize suffering and losses, including:

  • Employing short and long-term mitigation strategies:
  • Developing key messages;
  • Identifying and training spokespeople or issuing a public statement; and
  • Engaging stakeholders in the mitigation process.

The emergency response stage of a crisis is one of the most critical, but will only be effective if the management team was also fully engaged in pre-crisis preparedness, as coming up with a proper response in the midst of an emergency is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible.

Post-Crisis Stage

The final phase of a crisis is appropriately referred to as the post-crisis stage, which occurs, as its name suggests, after the initial emergency is over. At this time, a risk management team will need to work toward an early recovery, as well as attempt to discover how to reduce future risk. The post-crisis stage is made up of activities that encompass two major goals: rehabilitation and reconstruction. The former involves the implementation of interim measures to assist in long term recovery, while the latter focuses on the use of permanent preventive measures. The success of both goals relies on the promotion of constant communication with stakeholders, listening and responding to concerns, integrating outreach, and eventually, evaluating response and recovery communications.

Creating a Crisis Management Strategy

The main stages of crisis management: preparedness and risk management, emergency response, and recovery and rehabilitation all require the creation and implementation of a crisis management strategy. These strategies must, in turn, have a few particular aims in order to be successful, including:

  • Creating a legal and organizational framework;
  • Ensuring that shareholders and employees are aware of risks and vulnerabilities;
  • Engaging in careful long and short-term planning for crisis management;
  • Implementing plans and enforcement measures;
  • Building employee, management, and shareholder resilience to face future crises and ensure full participation;
  • Building infrastructure and logistics; and
  • Developing and communicating knowledge for effective crisis management.

The successful implementation of these elements will not only increase a company’s likelihood of surviving a crisis, but will also help ensure that future crises have as little impact as possible on the business’s day-to-day operations and overall well-being.

Workplace Violence

Violence is a risk for those who work in the public sector, the private sector, or even a non-profit organization. Fortunately, it is a risk that can be managed by taking appropriate precautions, including the creation of a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence that covers all employees, clients, contractors, and company personnel. In addition to a well-written and thoroughly implemented workplace violence prevention program, companies can use training and administrative controls to reduce the incidence of violence in the workplace.

Whether intended as a standalone workplace violence prevention policy, or a program that is incorporated into an employee handbook, manual of standard operating procedures, or a safety health and program, a zero-tolerance policy will only be effective if employees, shareholders, and contractors:

  • Are aware of and understand the policy; and
  • Understand that all workplace violence claims will be investigated and remedied as quickly as possible.

To this end, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises companies to notify all of their stakeholders of the workplace violence policy and train them on detecting, preventing, and intervening when an incident does occur. Similarly, company stakeholders should be trained on how to respond to safeguard their team, as well as the company’s assets and reputation in the event of workplace violence. The success of these endeavors is largely dependent on communication, as well as the ability to quickly identify red flags and take action immediately, before the violent act occurs. This can be a complicated endeavor, especially for those without risk management experience, so if you have questions about how to handle your own company’s workplace violence prevention program, you should contact an experienced lawyer who can help you achieve the following goals:

  • Conducting a strategic review of any current workplace violence policies;
  • Developing a policy (if one does not yet exist) that covers workplace violence prevention, including procedures, awareness campaigns, program frameworks, and reporting mechanisms;
  • Conducting a threat assessment, which involves reviewing troubling behavior;
  • Providing assistance, or evaluating threats of workplace violence;
  • Assisting in development, which involves threat management scenario simulations;
  • Helping with post-incident review and after-action reporting following an exercise, in order to develop recommendations for improvement;
  • Supporting leaders, managers, senior executives, and Boards of Directors following an incidence of workplace violence;
  • Training stakeholders, as well as frontline managers, corporate executives, and threat assessment team members about threat management processes, policies, reporting, and response;
  • Creating partnerships between service providers, including security specialists, employee assistance programs, and threat assessment experts; and
  • Promoting communication before, during, and after a crisis.

To learn more about evaluating, developing, and implementing workplace violence prevention programs, please contact our crisis communications and management legal team today.

Contact Our Office Today

If you have questions about creating a risk assessment program, training your employees in crisis management, or contending with a current crisis, please contact California crisis communications and management lawyer Jamie Wright, Esq by sending a message to jwright@jamiewrightlawfirm.com or by completing one of our brief online contact forms.

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