The Great Debate UK

Managing staff shortages during the volcano disruption


Melanie Franklin-Melanie Franklin is CEO at Maven Training. The opinions expressed are her own.-

Businesses should have learned by now, from the unexpected eruptions of volcanic ash and the global havoc it has wreaked, that flexibility, creativity and the ability to adapt to an unpredictable environment is crucial to survival.

Having the skills to manage a crisis, such as what to do when 25 percent of the workforce may not turn up to work on Monday morning and how to manage the impact, is vital. Those that learned such project management skills will have been putting contingency plans in place as early as Thursday – when the mass flight cancellations started totting up into the thousands.

Below are top ten tips for dealing with such a crisis:

1)    Review existing contingency plans to see what transferable actions can help. No-one plans for these highly unusual circumstances, but most organisations have plans for fire, flood and terrorist disruption.

2)    Meet with the management team to organise resources internally and assess the situation. Identify what resources are missing and find out from remaining employees the impact delayed staff returns will have. Then, if possible, speak to those that are trapped abroad and allow them to contribute to help analyse the gaps.