Can Your Company Handle a Crisis?

A comprehensive plan helps you minimize the impact on employees, company, and stakeholders should disaster strike.

Disruption of day-to-day activities caused by environmental, human, natural, or technological incidents can shake customer confidence and ultimately threaten a company’s viability—if quick action is not taken to minimize impact.

“I tell our people it’s not a question of whether we will face a crisis, it’s a matter of when and how much it will affect our people, company, and stakeholders,” says William T. Yanavitch, senior vice president of human resources and administration for Glatfelter.

Yanavitch and Kent Matsumoto, Glatfelter’s vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, share five lessons they’ve learned while developing the company’s crisis management plan:

  1. Get buy-in from the top. Full engagement of the senior executive team, including the CEO and board of directors, is a must. Planning from the top down is good, solid governance practice, says Matsumoto.
  1. Plan for any incident, large or small. Minor incidents can quickly escalate. Identify teams, including roles and responsibilities; operating procedures outlining how and where things will happen; and crisis communications detailing who will be the spokesperson, what messages will be delivered, and how information will be shared.
  1. Communicate throughout the organization. Travel to all company facilities to share and discuss the plan. Site-specific plans should integrate seamlessly with the corporate plan.
  1. Practice. Then, practice again. Consider bringing in crisis-planning experts to help conduct mock scenarios for the crisis teams. Discuss lessons learned, and modify the plan if needed.
  1. Appreciate peace of mind. Being prepared to anticipate, avoid, and respond to critical incidents brings a certain level of comfort and confidence to employees, customers, and stakeholders. In the event of a crisis, you stand ready to provide for people’s safety and security, while at the same time protecting your business reputation and continuity.