Jobs and businesses on the line because UK organisations are refusing to make adequate contingency plans to protect their people or their skills base against emergency eventualities such as terror attacks.
Despite warnings about the need for disaster preparation, business continuity experts say that firms are dangerously complacent about the risk of losing skills and people in the event of an emergency.
According to the Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) fifth annual business continuity survey, while around a half of firms realise the impact a loss of staff and skills can have, few have business continuity plans to cover such an eventuality.
Overall, fewer than half (47 per cent) said they any business continuity plan at all. Fewer than one in four (37 per cent) of these said they had plans to cover loss of people while only just over a quarter (27 per cent) had plans for loss of skills after a disaster.
While more than eight out of ten (84 per cent) saw the need for contingencies in terms of loss of IT, and more than six out of ten in terms of telecommunications, site and fire, the possible impact of negative publicity following a disaster was generally ignored with only a quarter including it in their plans.
Christine Hayhurst, director of professional affairs at the CMI warned today at the launch of the figures at the Business Continuity Expo, that many firms were playing Russian Roulette with their greatest assets - their staff and their reputation.
"At best, failure to provide contingency plans for loss of people or individuals with specific skills can lead to unnecessary pressures in the workplace. At worst, it could close businesses and ruin reputations," she said.
The research accuses UK firms of having a ‘blasé’ attitude towards business continuity plans, a fact which is reflected in the finding that communication to employees, shareholders and customers over contingency plans has decreased since 1999.
John Sharp, chief executive of the Business Continuity Institute says that many UK organisations continue to bury their heads in the sand. Business continuity management can save an organisation and its employees if disaster strikes, he says:
"If nothing else, we are urgently calling upon UK businesses to do two things: develop a business continuity plan for their organisation and test it at least once a year. Not to do so is playing with fire," warned Sharp.