We live in a world where geographical business borders are melting away on a daily basis. Virtual technology, streaming, cloud storage, mobile, social media – all of these tools have crafted a world that’s almost totally free of geographical boundaries. Most businesses today can operate internationally with seamless performance, gathering teams of the best minds and talents across the globe for the purposes of market domination. This is the world wide web of human connection, where millions of us are connected minute by minute. Today, we operate in workplaces without walls.
However, we live in very uncertain times. Across the globe there is violence and conflict. Individuals are losing their liberties and live second to second. Whether it’s war or discrimination, working in a world without walls doesn’t mean that we can ignore the business and HR issues that exist for the people we work with globally. And we must consider how matters of international security factor into corporate capacity.
As those charged with the management of corporate capacity and agility, it is HR’s charge to consider how international conflict impacts our plans and daily decisions. Those of us who have employees or freelance staff in or around war zones need to consider evacuation plans for those in harm’s way, along with alternatives for continuance of workflow if conflict arises. Workplace violence, never a subject anyone relishes tackling, must be considered, particularly in the United States with its current surge of gun ownership and rash of shootings. Employees who travel should have a safety plan, contact information, and means of safe passage if something bad does happen. Again, these are never conversations anyone wants to have, but the survival of employees must be paramount. This is not a plan you can consider and implement after the event. If you don’t have a strategy and clear procedures in place for your people and business, you need to design and implement them right now.
And then we must attend to the concept of workplace violence. According to 2013 statistics from The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, FBI and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 397 fatal workplace injuries in the United States were listed as homicides, which accounted for 9% of all workplace deaths that year.OSHA reports that an average two million Americans are victims of workplace violence per year. That is an extraordinary amount of people, and the question is frighteningly complex: what do we do to keep them safe, and how do we plan for continued capacity in case tragedy may strike?
The answer is complicated. I use my own proprietary decision-making tool, the Capacity Framework, that helps craft the vision, strategy, solutions and leadership brand aspects of these types of decisions. It will require you to step out in front of your company’s annual plan and to consult with security experts, legal, finance, government agencies, and possibly embassies around the globe. But the crafting of this type of plan, particularly with expert assistance, could mean the continued thriving of your organisation in times of chaos or a potentially destructive incident that could cost both lives and capital. Neither are desired, but you can be prepared for the worst.
We live in times where we must help each other to be as prepared as possible to support our people through complexities and potentially life-threatening situations. It is in times like these that I do believe that HR is uniquely qualified to lead the charge, to help craft the plan that will ensure the longevity, safety, and fortitude of our constituents. We are the keepers of capacity, and it is in that spirit that we must all hope for the best but plan for the worst. It is those who are most fully prepared that will weather whatever dangers may come.