Business Continuity, Critical Communications

Top 3 Emergency Notification Tips for Business Continuity Awareness Week 2019

By Aaron Kuhn

Business Continuity Awareness Week 2019 is May 13 ‑ 17.

This global event is a time to consider business continuity and the value an effective continuity management program can have for your organization.

An emergency notification system is a crucial tool in any business continuity plan. Every day, events like the following happen with no warning:

  • Hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters
  • Active shooter
  • Urban wildfire
  • Power outages
  • Cybercrime
  • Disease outbreaks
  • Workplace violence

One of the most frequent consequences of these events is limited or impaired communication, making it difficult to relay critical messages regarding safety and disaster response. Emergency notification systems have proven to be a vital tool for today’s organizations.

To ensure your crisis alerting is accurate and timely, here are three essential tips to follow:

1. Test your emergency notification system.

When is the last time you tested your emergency notification system? Or, do you wait until you need to send an alert to use it? When an emergency happens, you need to be prepared to use the system for its purpose so routine testing of your service is key. This will allow you to iron out any kinks in communication and ensure you have accurate contact information for your intended recipients.

Further, testing allows you to check response rates. Quarterly testing should keep users comfortable with receiving and responding to notifications. When developing your testing program, consider the following:

  • Vary the time of day and day of the week
  • Vary the sequence of devices
  • Target different devices during testing

If testing reveals a lower than expected response rate, it may be a good idea to start with an occasional pre-announced test.

2. Make employees aware of your emergency notification system.

It is common for people to receive messages through text or email, not recognize the number/sender, and completely ignore it. You don’t want this happening when an emergency alert is broadcasted.

To help avoid this, send announcements when you first implement a mass notification system, and continue your reminders throughout the year. If your solution is already established, develop and implement an employee awareness program. Another tip is to ask employees to add your designated number(s) and email(s) to their contacts under URGENT or another similar name that will grab their attention and remind them the message is important.  

3. Ensure you have the most up to date employee contact information.

An emergency is not the time to discover you have bad contact information. When disaster strikes and contacts have changed emails or phone numbers without informing you, they will miss information that could significantly impact them and even put them in harm’s way.

Create a process for updating and reviewing employee information regularly. It may help further if you assign a role responsible for auditing contact information to ensure it is up to date. Send routine reminders to employees to update or add new contact information on a quarterly or biannual basis. 

Follow #BCAW2019 on social networks to learn about other industry best practices during Business Continuity Awareness Week. To celebrate BCAW2019, OnSolve has designed a poster for your organization to print and distribute to remind your employees to make sure their contact information is current. Find the free download here. For more information on mass notification systems, connect with us.