organisational resilience

Shakeout Preparedness Tips for Business

Shakeout Preparedness Tips for Business

New Zealand ShakeOut, our national earthquake drill and tsunami hīkoi, is taking place on Thursday 18 October 2018 at 9:30 am.

ShakeOut is held across the world to remind people of the right action to take during an earthquake, Drop, Cover and Hold - and to practise a tsunami hīkoi (evacuation) if in a coastal area.

With the ShakeOut exercise coming up, it is a good reminder for businesses to improve their preparedness.

Resilient Organisations have put together a few tips and simple actions organisations can do to significantly improve their resilience and preparedness.

Download the ShakeOut Preparedness Tips

If you are a New Zealand organisation and want to find out more about ShakeOut and how to participate, go to the ShakeOut website,

Incentivising organisational resilience

Incentivising organisational resilience

Businesses need to believe they are going to be impacted, that they can reduce this impact through their own actions, and that it is an essential part of business to do so.  Those who believe these things invest in resilience.  However, it is not enough to rely on the ‘enlightenment’ of businesses to act in their own self-interest.   Businesses must be actively nudged and supported.

In June 2017, the National Emergency Management Conference was held in Wellington, with presentations addressing the future of emergency management in New Zealand.  Bryce Davies, the General Manager Corporate Relations at IAG (Insurance Australia Group Ltd.), spoke about resilience as a national issue, where public, private, and civil society organisations must be able to thrive in times of crisis.  But how do we incentivise organisations to be more resilient?

In his presentation, Davies begins by outlining the benefits and limitations of insurance products to support organisational resilience.  Insurance plays a part in building resilience in organisations, yet only 20-30% of businesses have business interruption insurance.  Resilience requires a broad consideration of risks and impacts and how they are managed.  Ultimately, insurance can provide a backstop for organisations in the form of financial assistance, but cannot stop things from going wrong.

What is needed, Davies says, is belief.

Businesses need to believe they are going to be impacted, that they can reduce this impact through their own actions, and that it is an essential part of business to do so.  Those who believe these things invest in resilience.  However, it is not enough to rely on the ‘enlightenment’ of businesses to act in their own self-interest.

Davies provides three suggestions to get organisations to react, and invest in building resilience.

    Resilience needs led by organisations like MBIE, Business NZ, Resilient Organisations, and local government.  By promoting resilience and providing supporting information, resilience becomes a normal part of business and everyday conversation.
    Incentivise organisational resilience is through positive pressure.  A range of public and private sector mechanisms already exist, but they're not used for this purpose.  Regulators and industry groups need to think about how to use the levers at their disposal to drive resilience.
    The final suggestion is seeding action.  Here the example given was Government could require the development of sector-wide plans to ensure that services are still provided in times of crisis.  The alignment this would require across agencies and between public and private organisations would draw businesses in and move people away from a traditional focus on response.

The key takeaway from the presentation is that we cannot rely on enlightened businesses to act on resilience.  Businesses must be actively nudged and supported.

Watch full presentation

The vital link between businesses and communities after disaster

The vital link between businesses and communities after disaster

Christchurch’s earthquake -hit services, particularly those we often take for granted, proved the perfect case study for Joanne Stevenson.

The University of Canterbury PhD student is nearly three years into her thesis on organisational resilience and the vital post disaster link between businesses and communities.

“I’m trying to create a more connected understanding of organisational resilience and figure out what it means for businesses and what it means for policy and development,” said Joanne. “It’s about making the links between an organisation and the community they’re a part of more clear.”

Joanne said people often didn’t consider the importance of businesses in establishing both social and economic progress following a major disaster.

“We rely on businesses for so much of the daily interaction in our lives. Often people don’t think about businesses in the sense of community and economic recovery but organisations are important hubs of social interaction.”

Joanne uses the example of wanting a coffee after the September earthquake to illustrate the important role of businesses in everyday life.

She had to drive around several outlets which were closed before finding a service centre that served coffee where she waited an hour. This small example illustrates how everyday services provided by business, no matter how big or small, are an integral factor to consider in post disaster communities.

Following both the September 2010 and February 2011 quakes Joanne surveyed 360 organisations throughout Canterbury. She then selected 32 businesses within the selected areas of Christchurch CBD, Kaiapoi and Lyttelton to carry out comprehensive case studies on.

facade-containersThroughout last year Joanne spent hours with each organisation, getting to know their post quake worksite and develop an understanding of their economic situation.

She was then able to compare the data gained from these interviews with the earlier surveys to evaluate the level of business resilience both immediately post quake and again at a later period.

A surprising find resulting from her research was four organisations reporting significant positive economic outcomes.

“Some of the businesses that were most disrupted by the earthquakes experienced a significant pick up in cash flow,” said Joanne.

In one example a business lost their retail outlet in the February 2011 quake and was forced to change to wholesale selling. The new products designed for wholesale led to a higher turnover for the company resulting in increased revenue.

Joanne’s findings also revealed the impact disasters have on a business’ operational objectives.

Post quake many businesses called on a range of contacts, both formal and informal, to provide additional labour. For some organisations this meant family members helping with administrative backlog while other businesses redistributed their work to different offices around the country.

Managing employee wellbeing and stress was another challenge identified by several organisations. A range of methods were undertaken by businesses to lend staff the emotional support they often required.

Joanne’s research showed that in post disaster environments competing businesses were often best positioned to provide each other with assistance because of familiarity with the operational and supply processes.

The earthquakes also acted as a stimulus for some businesses to re-evaluate their overall efficiency, allowing them to upgrade technologies and identify underperforming segments of the organisation.

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