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People and resilience part two

In the second article in a three-part series exploring ‘people and resilience’, Paul Kudray looks at a common misconception: that when disaster strikes employees will automatically rally round and play their part in helping the organization recover.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase: “I hate my job!” You may even have used it: possibly on more than one occasion.

You and I know there are people who have dream jobs; they work in their favourite place, doing the things they love to do, and they even have great bosses! Yes, it happens!

The employers they work for may even have a great resilience plan. Everyone in the organization may be aware of it and each person may know what to do when the proverbial hits the fan. In short it’s a fantastic resilient organization, based around the people who make it work.

The same but different

In the previous article we discussed the view of the resilience professional and I asked how we really know what the rest of the people want and need when it comes to resilience matters.

When the resilience professional is ‘off duty’, they (we) become just another member of the public and our lives lie firmly in the hands of the people in charge should something go sadly wrong. That could be in a crowded place; at a sports event; or just anywhere for that matter. There is no hiding place and not much influence to be achieved on proceedings when it’s too late.

We are all unique, but unfortunately - although there is variety - jobs don’t come packaged for one-of-a-kind individuals. Whether you’re a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker. No matter if you work in a town or on an oil rig; and whatever the complexities of your role – and the challenges involved in getting to it. In the majority of cases, there are other people involved; and with them goes line management structures, terms and conditions, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The etcetera is usually the unwritten culture we hear so much about; the sticky bits.

Jobs! We either like them, or we don’t like something about them. When that something we don’t like involves other people – such as managers, especially the ones who like to think they’re leaders but actually are not, the job can be one we hate. Can’t stand it; the whole organization is despicable, let alone the bosses!

Here comes the question

In this world of building resilient capabilities, crisis, emergency and business continuity planning, what about the people that we need to get us through the challenge?

We need people to help us respond and recover and keep the business safe. To help it recover and not get destroyed. What if those people who say “I hate this job” don’t really want the organization to survive? They don’t like the place and the bosses, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person; so to speak!

I’m not suggesting they would do something malicious; no suspicious activity: though that happens from time to time

I’m talking about how much reliance is given to a pre-conceived idea that all people in the workplace want the same thing: resilience? How do we know that’s what they want to happen? Particularly when reports state that it could be the majority of employees who are disengaged in some instances. The destruction of one work place might lead to better conditions at a new location, perhaps?

Perhaps their boss will be fired if the organization loses too much and it’s in their favour to have it fail?

Who would have been behind the ‘greedy bankers’ taking six and seven figure bonuses whilst the ‘real’ workers were being restructured out? (For example.)

Money’s too tight to mention

Work isn’t just about the money factor; in fact, it comes as low as seventh on peoples’ needs, when looking at career satisfaction overall. People who are affected by the collapse or destruction of their normal work place may be financially impacted for a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of life (outside of work) as they knew it. They may be offered alternate employment; either at another location, or by another company. And – if a catastrophic event highlights that your (otherwise) perfect plan was not what it needed to be - the employer will need to recompense the affected staff; adding another layer to the resilience challenge!

These boots are made for walking

You and I have always known that not everyone loves their current job. Some people really do hate it. You always get one or two (or twelve) who are more vocal about it, but there are also those playing their hate cards closer to their chest; those who are disenfranchised and disengaged.

Yet (almost) all of the resilience plans are based around the well-disciplined theory and assumption that everyone will chip in and pull the business out of the mire when the challenge is on!

Yes, it can be hard to quantify just how many people hate their job. It’s a subject I’ve talked about before as something that needs to be seriously considered when undertaking an awareness campaign for your resilience plans and capabilities

But how do we quantify it? It’s unlikely (but not entirely impossible), that people will tell you they couldn’t give a monkey’s fig about the business failing in a crisis. Some might be bold enough to say it out loud. Good for them: a bit of straight talking sometimes helps and it can reflect the culture of the organization; and more accurate assumptions can then be made available to the incident management team.

Wishful thinking

Next time we think about people in a resilience sense, we should remember that not everyone has the business’ best interests in their hearts and minds. Not because of anything sinister, rather that they’re disengaged and would prefer to get home in time for the next episode of Watching Paint Dry, than go the extra mile at work, for those so-and-sos!

How we overcome that is a challenge in itself, but at least if we factor it in, we can be closer to the mark when we assume who will help out when the time comes and who won’t. And perhaps more importantly for ‘leaders’, why they won’t!

The author

Paul KudrayAn international leader in business resilience consultancy, training and coaching; Paul Kudray, MSc FICPEM CBCI AMBCI, is an ex-emergency services commander who finished an exemplary 32 year career in the UK healthcare sector, working for the NHS - culminating in 7½ years as the Director of Resilience for one of the world’s largest ambulance services, NWAS NHS Trust. He now works with private and public sector clients around the world, training, advising, coaching and mentoring them at the highest levels about emergency and business continuity management. Paul's company is KCLContact Paul at or via LinkedIn 

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