silience & Business Conitnuity Management

One of the key factors integral to the continued and effective operation of an organisation is a carefully planned and developed Business Continuity Management Planning framework.

Throughout this last 12 months organisations have continued to operate due to the planning they had completed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges, enabling them to pivot and adapt to support the continued delivery of products and services to customers.

Now, as we face further disruption, it is timely to focus on ensuring your business invests the time and effort to review your continuity plans and make any necessary adjustments to build your resilience. The process needs to combine individual and industry learnings and should address issues such as insurance, lease arrangements, supply chains and their resilience, workforce requirements and business systems.

This article focuses on Business Continuity Management, which is a key element of any Risk Management Framework – the purpose of which is to manage actual or predicted disruptions.

A Risk Management Framework is a critical function for successful operations and helps businesses:

  • Identify their risks
  • Determine risk appetite
  • Develop and strengthen risk controls
  • Monitor and measure level of risk

Risk Management is an overlay that organisations adopt to enable them to operate effectively and Business Continuity is a key element of any Risk Management Framework.
A Business Continuity Management System is a tangible demonstration by an organisation to its customers, employees, stakeholders, and suppliers of how resilient their business will be with the supply of products and services during a disruption.

The purpose of an organisation undertaking Business Continuity Planning is to deal with any potential business disruption, including natural and manmade disasters, which do not discern who they impact or when. It is significant to note the frequency of these events, from the evidence available, has substantially increased. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for organisations to spend time in examining the critical functions performed in their business and adopting controls to manage the impacts from any disruptive events.

Organisations are also encouraged to examine their business systems such as information technology, supply chains and third-party providers, to fully understand their vulnerabilities and the mitigation controls that can be adopted to strengthen these systems.

Further, many organisations have clear expectations from investors, stakeholders, regulators, shareholders and the community to prevent or manage these foreseeable events. So, by investing in Business Continuity Management to deal with disruptive events an organisation can minimise impacts to customers, operations, finances, legal & regulatory obligations, brand reputation and materiality.

A Business Continuity Management Framework is the mechanism that facilitates the development of a Business Continuity Plan. The key components of the framework aim to govern, assess, create, train, exercise, maintain and continuously improve the Business Continuity Plan.

Governance is about leadership, structure, accountability, roles and responsibilities, performance standards, communication and integration within and outside of an organisation in considering the importance and needs of suppliers and major customers.

Assessment concerns understanding the critical components of the business that are fundamental to its operation and the controls that can be adopted to manage disruptions.

Creation, or the formalising of arrangements, is another important step and should be conducted across all business units to capture all the interdependencies within an organisation. This approach addresses any siloed culture issues that will prove detrimental to an organisation during a crisis period. There are many examples of plans that have failed due to internal disconnection and siloed approaches. The best results are produced when plans are fully integrated and a ‘whole of organisation’ approach is nurtured and rewarded.

The training, exercising and maintenance aspects of the framework are somewhat self-explanatory but take note: Developing the plans is not the end of the story. Exercising and regularly reviewing to continuously improve plans, particularly after an event, is also critical (and highly recommended).  It simply makes sense to include training, exercising and scenario planning in your corporate training calendar to continually drive success and to overcome any complacency.

A regular ‘review cycle’ allows an organisation to align its changing business strategy with its Business Continuity Plan. During this Covid-19 period organisations that were agile and had given consideration to business continuity were innovative in their operational responses to disruptions.

The Business Continuity Plan should be tailored to the needs of the business and the plan should be scalable and flexible, recognising there will be differences in the impacts and consequences associated with the various types of events an organisation may experience.

There is strong evidence that points to the benefits organisations derive from Business Continuity Management and Planning. The thinking, planning, documenting, exercising and reviewing enable an organisation to absorb and bounce forward more effectively from the shocks and stresses of any disruptions.

Nuffield Group has built a highly capable team to deliver sustainable Crisis and Emergency Management solutions to organisations. Find out more here.

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Women In Engineering

June 23rd is International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED21) – a day when we celebrate the work and achievements of female engineers and technicians around the world. At Nuffield Group we are blessed to have some really talented women, and whilst not all are qualified engineers, all are highly skilled, experienced and critical to the ongoing success of our organisation and our customers businesses.

International Women in Engineering Day began 7 years ago and has grown spectacularly every year since. Of course, there have been women in engineering for decades but the defining period for the professional and social status of female engineers can be traced back to the First World War when tens of thousands of women were recruited in munitions factories, in the field of transport and the aeronautical and automobile industries. That movement arguably blazed a trail for women in engineering but it still took decades more to fully break down the barriers.

Today, with UNESCO recognition, #INWED21 is about raising the profile of an engineering career as a great choice for women (and young girls), with an exciting future and amazing opportunities. This year’s theme is ‘Engineering Heroes‘ – profiling the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering; Pioneers who recognise a problem, then dare to be part of the solution; who undertake everyday ‘heroics’ as much as emergency ones (like fighting a global epidemic!).

So, at Nuffield Group we’d like, once again, to recognise the critical contribution our ‘women in engineering’ make to us, to our customers and to their colleagues. Celebrate your achievements today and every day…

There are many ways to say ‘thank-you’ and the benefits for both the recipient and the giver of such a small gesture are huge.

This week in AFL the Collingwood players said ‘thank-you’ to their departing coach of the last decade, Nathan Buckley, with an upset win over top of the table Melbourne. Yesterday, a driver on the freeway waved a ‘thank-you’ to another driver who left a gap for them to merge in to. Today, my son and daughter did the cooking and cleaned up (THANK YOU!)…

It’s a simple but powerful gesture of appreciation that conveys both gratitude and respect at the same time. Whilst it has long been recognised that there are strong benefits between two people involved in an exchange of gratitude (saying ‘thank-you’ is good for our health and happiness), new research has shown that there’s a ripple effect too.

It’s now acknowledged that there’s a third-party impact on family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and even complete strangers who witness an act of gratitude. It’s a simple act that can bring entire groups together, inspiring people to connect better with each other by building trust and closer bonds.

When it comes to resilience, gratitude has been shown to increase a person or a group’s capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or challenges. The impact of gratitude, from a resilience perspective, is incremental. It’s not as instantaneous as the other benefits (above) but works over time by helping “repair the psychological damage inflicted” by disasters and hardships; it is developed by fostering positive growth, that aids recovery.

It may be as simple as this: gratitude makes us reflect on ourselves and our lives, averting attention from the negative to the positive. Whatever the psychology behind it though, being grateful, acknowledging gratitude, witnessing the ‘thank-you’, all help develop us for the better – one ‘thank-you’ at a time.

Nuffield Group’s Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery team incorporates human factors (like gratitude) and an understanding of team interaction as part of its emergency management training program to help build resilience. Read more here.


Mental Health Matters

It’s June 2021 and Victorians are emerging from yet another COVID-induced lockdown and all the associated side effects business closures and working from home create. So, now is as good a time as any for businesses to develop a mental health risk plan for the wellbeing of all their staff, customers and suppliers.

In terms of business risk, mental health is unique and challenging. Stigma and shame are all too often associated with mental health – which makes disclosure hard…

When the pandemic first hit Australia (way back in March 2020) Nuffield Group developed a guide to help businesses step through the process of developing a Mental Health Risk Plan specific to their organisation. The guide used a risk management framework approach to show businesses how to develop a mental health risk plan. You can get a copy here.

Mental health hazards and their associated risks are usually considered as ‘Headline Risks’ and it is incumbent on an organisation to ensure these risks are managed with appropriate and effective governance processes.

It is important to document the ‘What, How and Why’ for each hazard but first you need to:

  • identify the mental health hazards (internal and external)
  • describe the identified hazards & add them to your risk register
  • evaluate the mental health hazards
  • determine the actions required in response to the hazards

In this framework using your risk register allows you to not only understand the risks and the controls you’ve identified but to track any actions and progress made in implementing controls.

An example of an appropriate risk register is available in the guide provided here.

Remember, a healthy workplace that supports the mental health of its employees should include the following:

  • Prioritising mental health by providing mental health education for all employees to raise awareness, increase understanding and encourage open discussion
  • Encouraging a trusting, fair and respectful culture so employees at all levels can interact with honesty and respect with colleagues, suppliers, customers, and the public
  • Ensuring open and honest leadership which gives employees a sense of shared purpose in the goals of the organisation
  • Developing good job design by matching job roles to people’s skills and abilities, ensuring they are physically safe and offer working arrangements that suit employees
  • Managing workload by setting tasks that can be accomplished successfully in a reasonable time, using readily available resources
  • Offering employees an environment where 2-way feedback is encouraged, acknowledged and rewarded
  • Ensuring employees feel included and have control of the way they work and input to the important decisions of the organisation
  • Recognising the importance of successfully integrating work with life and provide employees the opportunity to manage the demands of work, family, and personal
  • Enabling managers and business leaders to be responsive to employees’ mental health conditions, regardless of cause, and letting them make adjustments to work and counselling support as required

Using a risk management framework to develop a mental health plan for your business is a great resource which can (and ideally should) be supplemented by the support resources available from the many Mental health charities we have in Australia. These are particularly useful for implementing mental health plan controls and understanding some of the unique challenges mental health creates. Check out:

Mental Health is back in the news this week with another State lockdown in Victoria and the withdrawal of tennis star Naomi Osaka from the French grand slam at Roland Garros – both highlighting the toll on individual wellbeing of stressful events and situations. It’s time to talk – Mental Health needs to be mainstream.

At Nuffield Group we recognise the importance of positive mental health in creating strong and resilient working environments, leading to increased productivity and staff retention. That’s why we promote building mental health strategies to reduce risk at every workplace.

And it all starts with awareness. Employment is a significant part of a person’s life and employers can affect their employee’s mental health positively and, whether it be intentional or not, negatively. So, to build resilience organisations need to raise awareness; to engage with employees to both prevent and address mental health issues. There are a number of things organisations can do:

  • Jobs can be designed to promote positive mental health and wellness and remove risks like stress or trauma
  • Workplace health programs can be run to raise awareness and open communications to remove the stigma around mental health
  • Support mechanisms can be put in place to identify issues early and assist employees in appropriate ways

Regular, honest and open communications are central to any organisation and especially at times like these when Covid-19 is causing so much uncertainty and anxiety.

Everyone reacts differently to these challenges and organisations must be mindful of the new risks changing procedures can bring. For, example, socially distancing at work or working from home has become the norm during the pandemic but how are these practises impacting your employees? Are they more isolated as a result? Do you need to review and change your support procedures to deal with the ‘new normal’?

Of course, mental health awareness and training programs are an extremely effective way to engage employees and raise their awareness. And, in turn, this improves communications and support structures, empowering individuals to look out for themselves as well as their fellow workers.

Nuffield Group has worked with Lifeline Australia to produce and distribute a “Workplace Mental Health Resource for Managers” to our customers via our membership platform, GNTX. Given the importance of this resource and the ongoing challenges we all face, we’re also making it available free here.