Emergency communication is a critical part of any organization. Not only do you need to be able to respond quickly to crisis situations, but you also need to inform everyone about what’s happening. Whether it’s a tornado bearing down on your town or an employee reporting they were mugged on their way home from work, emergencies happen all the time.
If your employees are scattered across multiple locations or if they aren’t familiar with one another, emergency communication can get tricky. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can improve communication in your organization without spending money on expensive systems or hiring consultants.
Make it a habit
If you really want to improve emergency communication in your organization, you’ll have to start doing it on a daily basis. You can’t just have an emergency plan for a few days when an emergency happens. You have to have the plan in place before the emergency even happens. When creating your emergency communication plan, make sure to think about the different types of emergencies you could encounter.
Your plan should account for everything from natural disasters like floods and tornadoes to break-ins and robberies. If you have employees who work on different schedules, you’ll also want to account for the fact that some of them will be off when an emergency happens. Make sure to account for all the different scenarios that could happen in your organization.
At the end of the day, you can’t plan for everything that could happen in your organization. That’s why you’ll also want to be flexible when creating your plan. If a flood hits your city, it’s unlikely that an employee in the finance department will need to be evacuated. You’ll also want to keep in mind that employees’ schedules are going to fluctuate.
If you have an office that works a few hours per day or week, you’ll have to account for the fact that some people will be off when an emergency happens. If a tornado hits, another person may need to be evacuated from the building but their co-worker is just fine. If you have a plan that accounts for specific emergencies, you’ll be able to adjust it on the fly.
Turn it into a game
If you’re in an office setting, you might find it helpful to turn an emergency communication plan into a game. You can do this by creating a quiz for your employees. You can have them quiz each other on their abilities to respond to various emergencies. If a coworker is having a bad day and reports they saw a boss who gave them a hard time, you could have an employee quiz their co-worker on how they would respond.
Perhaps an employee has to go to the grocery store and needs to know what to buy. You could have other employees quiz them on the essentials for a disaster scenario. If an employee’s family suddenly needs to evacuate, you could have them quiz their co-workers on what they would do if they had to evacuate with their family.
Use multiple communication channels
Another way to improve emergency communication in your organization is to keep your communications open across multiple channels. Whether it’s sending out mass emails, creating a private Slack channel, or using a messaging app, you’ll want to make sure your organization is consuming all the communication channels it can.
You may find that some channels are better than others. For example, there may be a group of people who only use Slack but the rest of the organization uses email. If you want to improve communication, you’ll need to try different channels and see what works best for your organization.
You’ll also want to make sure that all communication channels are being used by all members of your organization. If you have channels for managers to communicate with employees but only certain employees have access to those channels, you’re wasting time.
Don’t rely on email alone, use it with discretion
One of the biggest challenges with improving emergency communication in your organization is that not everyone will use the same channels. Some employees may prefer the privacy of email while others may only want to communicate through social media. If you don’t account for this, you may find that some employees are being left out of emergency communications.
To address this issue, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using both channels and non-channel methods of communication. For example, you might want to use one channel for simple messages and another channel for more detailed conversations.
Another way to improve communication is to make sure you’re sharing information between channels. If an employee sends a message to a manager to report that they were robbed, the managers may want to send that information out to the rest of the organization.
As you can see, emergency communication isn’t difficult. It just requires a bit of creativity and adapting to different situations. You can even use things like quizzes and games to make it more fun and interactive. Emergency communication won’t be perfect, but it’ll be better than it was before. You can’t expect to improve communication in an organization if there isn’t any.