Cutting Through The Noise In A Crisis

Posted: 28 Jan, 2022.

During a crisis, clear communication is key in keeping your employees calm, organised and safe. However, in an emergency situation, there is lots of chatter and speculation on messaging platforms which can make it difficult to cut through the noise and keep everyone informed with correct information.

When an individual is receiving dozens, possibly hundreds of communications every day, whether from work, family or friends, it’s easy for messages to be missed, overlooked, or deprioritised and forgotten. It’s imperative that critical safety communications are read and actioned as necessary.

What’s more, in a situation with remote or frontline workers, it can be difficult to grab the attention of employees away from the distractions in their surroundings. The sound of notifications can easily become background noise in a busy or loud work environment, causing notifications to be ignored.

In the BCI Emergency Communications Report 2021, 52.2% of organisations said that communicating with staff was their primary challenge during an incident in 2021, but only 68.2% kept employee contact details up to date. This highlights the importance of pre-planning and preparation. Organisations that prepare for the unexpected are likely to recover from an emergency faster as well as having higher rates of staff satisfaction and productivity.

The risk of alarm fatigue

Alert fatigue or alarm fatigue happens when someone is exposed to too many emergency notifications, too often. And in a world where we are constantly connected, it is easy to become desensitised to alerts, messages and notifications, which can mean that important information gets missed. This can be especially prominent if your employees regularly receive notifications that are not relevant, causing them to pay less attention to alerts in the future.

Limiting the amount and type of alerts can help to reduce alarm fatigue. This means trading quantity for quality and only sending accurate, meaningful updates. Most incidents can be managed with 3 key messages:

  1. A notification of the situation and any actions that should be followed
  2. An update with the estimated recovery time
  3. A message to say the situation has been resolved

Another way to reduce alarm fatigue is to only send alerts to those who need to know the information being provided. Specialised communications tools such as Peoplesafe Alert allow messages to be sent to predefined message groups, such as individual departments, teams, or those within a specific location. This ensures that only those impacted by an incident will receive the notifications relating to it, rather than your whole organisation.

Using predefined groups also makes the process of identifying the relevant employees quicker and easier, which is vital when time is of the essence. Peoplesafe Alert also has the ability to send notifications using a unique sound, making it distinguishable from all other notifications. This means that employees will associate this unique noise with crisis management, making it clear that the message is important.

Communicating out of hours

Although cutting through the noise in a crisis can be challenging at all times, it can be particularly difficult outside of office hours. Some employees may not be connected to your company infrastructure and may not have access to company emails or messaging platforms on their phones, leading to important messages being missed.

In the instance where you need to communicate with staff out of hours, you will need to ensure all staff have access to receive these messages on a personal device. This could be to inform employees that they should not travel to the office due to an outbreak of an infectious disease or to inform particular teams of a service disruption (e.g. IT) that needs urgent attention.

Discover how Merseyside Fire & Rescue use Peoplesafe Alert to mobilise responders in an emergency.

Peoplesafe Alert has the ability to override a device’s silent or do not disturb settings, making sure that users receive and are notified of critical messages, no matter the time. Additionally, if needed messages can be sent with repeat reminders. This means that the message will continue to be sent every 20 seconds until the recipient has acknowledged that they have read it or completed the required response, allowing employers to guarantee that essential notifications have been read and boost compliance.

Responding in a crisis

In order to deliver effective communications in a crisis, it’s essential to have a ready to use, robust plan in place. This will help to reduce the downtime you face as a business, keep your teams safe and reduce the impact the crisis has on wider business activities. Centralising your communication material will allow you to clearly communicate top-down messages, share essential updates in real time and ensure the same information is being shared across your organisation.

How you handle and respond to a crisis will have a lasting impact on your employees and the trust they have in you as an employer. When a crisis occurs, it’s vital to remember to:

  1. Act fast. Time is of the essence when it comes to crisis communications. You should communicate with staff as soon as reasonably possible, without compromising accuracy.
  2. Keep your messaging consistent and up to date at all times. Messages across all departments should be consistent with the information provided to avoid confusion and rumours spreading.
  3. Include all relevant information. This may include how employees should respond to the crisis, or adding a picture message of the threat they are facing e.g. a malware message.
  4. Let everyone know when the crisis is over. This should be using the same method of communication employed throughout the crisis and should go to everyone impacted.

With the right system in place, you can ensure that every emergency notification reaches and resonates with your staff.

Guaranteed message delivery

The Peoplesafe Alert service is a secure, encrypted safety notification tool, designed for communicating during crisis events. With the ability to send up to 2,000 messages per second, Peoplesafe Alert can communicate with entire businesses in seconds. The air-gapped platform can deliver a rapid response even when business servers are down or the office has been evacuated, making it the perfect solution for organisations that are looking to roll out better safety measures without large upfront investments.

Find out more

If you’re looking for more information about effectively communicating with staff in a crisis, visit the Peoplesafe Alert product page. Alternatively, book a free consultation with one of our employee safety experts.


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