Sunday, May 31, 2015

What Role should HR Play in a Business Continuity Program?

This is key part of Talent Management, a business can not continue without its assets - People.

Talent is always the most invaluable asset of an organization. So for companies that have a centrally managed Business Continuity program, or for those who are thinking of having a centrally managed Business Continuity program, how closely aligned should Human Resources be to the Business Continuity? Should HR be working with Business Continuity in ensuring human capital gaps are identified and hopefully planned out prior to an event?



This is part of Talent Management, a business can not continue without its assets - People. Therefore, it seems like a no-brainer for HR to play a pivotal role in Business Continuity. It is impossible to anticipate every gap and create strategies for every seen and unforeseen scenario, but there must be a solid plan in place for the future and present human capital, both skilled and unskilled so one's organization does not fall prey to the 'lack of talent' that so many sectors are facing. A Business Continuity team would comprise of different key members of the organization, not necessarily any or all are from senior management level, such as Contracts, Finance, Team Leads/Supervisors, Junior staff...etc., and working together with HR, a number of eventualities can be planned away to make sure business is continued, profits are still up and all employees are still getting paid.


It is important that Human Resources along with a cross functional team are involved in the business continuity planning. Human Resources professionals in an organization play an integral role in the creation of continuity plans, and they should be among the core team called on to enact a plan in the event of a disaster. The cross functional team can ensure there is a contingency for employees and any other key resources needed in an emergency. In addition, having all team members participate in exercise will show any gaps in the plan. HR plays a very important role in business continuity. Having plans and procedures in place before something happens is crucial to a business' ability to properly care for its personnel as well as its operations. Crisis preparedness is not new, but there are so many organizations - large and small - fail to plan for the unexpected.


It is also important to understand that HR is not the sole owner of this process. However, each plan should reflect the company's specific human resource reserves and structure. Organizational growth is a result of team combined efforts of all the internal and external stakeholder, thereby encompassing the individual and collective input. It is imperative that occasionally the strategies, plans, formalities, and policies may not produce the projected outcome, thereby hampering the achievement of the desired objectives, needless to underrate the fact that the "Human capital" is the fundamental and the foremost driving engine. The desirable tools are needed. Therefore, towards this end, it is the efficient and effective placement and utilization of such tools. This fact is not and should not be 'counted' as the main function of the H.R Department. The role of the HR, goes beyond, to ensure and identify not only the stumble blocks, but also fix responsibilities after careful study of the specific circumstances and the individual and collective professional input. This scenario sufficiently enhances the role of the HR, beyond 'recruitment and performance appraisal.' It brings the HR to assess causes for a professional's default by the concerned and proscribe or subscribe to the "accountability' process. This can only be prudently and judiciously undertaken, if the HR department is professionally competent to intervene and opine on the such phases of the organization's growth. It thus becomes necessary that the HR professional should reach beyond its earlier defined prime role.

Best practices of business continuity program involve anticipating human needs, developing strategies and implementing resources to address these needs. Among the greatest need is timely, accurate information – what has occurred, who is accounted for and how this affects everyone involved. There is a need to communicate with staff, contractors, vendors, visitors, family, friends and the surrounding community. And it is the cross-functional collaboration and execution with long term planning.

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