Everyone needs to be on the same page during a crisis, but if your company emergency alert and notification system isn't performing its best, your employees could be losing out on some important information.
The goal of any communication system is being able to effectively relay a message to all the necessary parties without any confusion. Whether it's sending out a corporate memo or alerting employees of an office emergency, this priority always rings true. In the latter case especially, your message needs to be direct and clear, but if you're not careful, your ENS could be compromising the integrity of your message. The following are four places where your ENS could be creating communication gaps:
1. Message clarity
You need to be sure that your message is understood by all of your employees. However, this is a lot easier said than done. Make sure that you are using clear and direct language. If you speak in vague terms about the incident, individuals may not fully understand the severity of the situation. Even worse, unclear language could create confusion in the ways in which employees should respond.
The best way to make sure that your message is relayed clearly is to use concise language. According to Inc magazine, the Society of Human Resource Management has concluded that people only remember between three and five points of any communication interaction. When sending an alert, think of the three most important points you want your employees to understand and leave it at that. Any additional information you can relay through a follow-up message.
2. Consider your medium
Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, "the medium is the message," and when it comes to today's ENSs, this is certainly the case. Notification systems used to be limited to only a few different forms of communication, such as loudspeakers and telephones. However, as on the go communication becomes more and more common, the mediums through which people interact grows. Today, someone can get in touch with another person through a simple click of a button on their smartphone.
On top of this immediacy, there are a greater variety of ways through which we communicate now. Facebook, Twitter, iMessage and other technologies have all taken the communications world by storm. As a result, the best way to get in contact with someone might not be a phone call, but an email sent right to his or her phone. By taking advantage of all the available mediums, you can improve the performance of your ENS and make sure everyone who needs to receive an alert is doing so. Mass Notification and Emergency Communications, an online resource for ENS systems, noted that by using a diverse set of mediums, you increase the likelihood of everyone understanding what needs to be done.
3. Know the situation
It can be difficult to ensure a clear message at the time of a crisis, but by anticipating the kinds of emergencies that may come up before hand, you can begin to address the aforementioned issues. There are a variety of emergency scenarios that your company could encounter, and these situations are dictated by the office you're in and your industry.
MNEC explained that using pre-recorded messages in a setting like a manufacturing plant is a great way to be prepared for different events, and ensure message clarity. This recommendation can be taken one step further by using a digital scenario manager that will allow your to fully plan out an emergency scenario and disseminate that message whenever you need to. Scenario managers that are connected to the cloud can be extremely helpful, as you can access it whenever you need, even if you are not at the site of the crisis.
4. Participant awareness
The steps you take ensure message clarity, precision and delivery will only go so far if your employees do not know how the system operates. Your employees need to be up to date on all of your company's emergency procedures so that if a crisis occurs, they can properly interpret the message you wish to convey.
This means having everyone know about the dangers of certain situations, where evacuation routes are located and how the chain of command works during an emergency. On top of informing people about how your ENS works, it helps to run regular drills so that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done in a given crisis situation.
Conducting regular drills can also help you iron out the kinks in your emergency alert system before it needs to be used in an active situation. While these four potential communication gaps could be causing issues in your ENS, problems could also arise in other areas as well. Through practice runs you can identify any other potential loopholes before your system is truly put to the test.