The role of eLearning in crisis resilience
It’s time to add eLearning to your crisis preparedness programme writes Caroline Sapriel of CS&A International, a global risk, crisis and business continuity management consultancy.
A recent crisis survey conducted by PRNEWS and CS&A International, highlights some concerning gaps in organisations’ overall crisis readiness. Surveying over 200 respondents across industry sectors, data from the research fielded in October shows that 62 per cent of organisations have crisis plans but just 49 per cent are updated. It also highlighted that nearly 40 per cent of respondents have never conducted a crisis exercise. Image: tohey|123rf
Solid crisis resilience rests on three pillars: Tried and tested processes; competencies; and superior judgement gained from experience. All three work hand in hand and if one is lacking, an imbalance results and there is a risk of ‘bringing the house down’.
Addressing the gap in crisis management competency is a challenge for every organisation. The constant change in crisis team membership means that experience across a team is seldom consistent. The average organisational cycle of crisis training and exercise is 12 to 18 months, with smaller and irregular sessions in between, budget permitting. A newly appointed member of the Crisis Management Team (CMT) may have just missed the yearly training and must wait months to catch up with his or her colleagues. The resulting gap in expertise creates an added risk that is an on-going frustration for crisis resilience managers.
More frequent training sessions are not often feasible when organisations lack in-house resources and must rely on outside expert trainers which can get costly.
How can you build and sustain crisis competencies in your organisations when training is scheduled once a year at best and there are inevitable and often frequent changes on your CMT?
Thankfully, owing to modern learning needs and technology, training is no longer confined to the classroom. However, ever since the emergence of eLearning, there has been a debate on its applicability to crisis management competency development. While the common best-practice principles that underpin crisis management skills can be taught universally, many of the competency development needs of crisis teams must be customised and taught ‘live’ by expert trainers in order to be effective.
Crisis management eLearning can be a useful complement to traditional training to help bridge the gap in between face-to-face training sessions, to on-board new comers and to support your organisations crisis competency development programmes. Some organisations have already integrated eLearning in their crisis preparedness activities. The crisis manager of a global pharmaceutical group said: “The first motivation for adopting eLearning was to maintain the level of knowledge regardless of the turnover on our crisis teams. Our second motivation was of course to ensure sustainability of the crisis process in such a huge company.”
The key benefits of adopting eLearning include:
flexibility: eLearning provides a scope for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and helps CMT members refresh and enhance their skills. When it comes to accessibility, eLearning or mobile courses provide ‘anytime and anywhere learning’, which might not be possible via traditional classroom training;
consistency: With eLearning in place, you can deliver quality and consistent training while keeping track of course completion for compliance. The modules can and should be integrated in your organisation’s LMS (Learning Management System) to allow you to track and report on the learning activities of your CMT members;
managing updates: As crisis procedures get updated, training content must be updated accordingly. Online modules are the quickest, most consistent and practical way to share updates with all concerned; and
cost-effectiveness: crisis management eLearning is a cost-effective supplement to traditional training programmes that delivers critical base-line knowledge more frequently to help sustain skills while reducing trainer dependency.
To achieve crisis management competency development objectives, eLearning courses must be designed by experts in the field to fit the mobile and virtual environment. Interactive approaches that build or refresh skills via case presentations, short and incremental steps and a range of quick self-assessments and quizzes are the cornerstone of on-line learning modules that succeed in keeping the learners engaged throughout.
With 30 years’ expertise in risk, crisis and business continuity management, CS&A International’s very own CrisisEcademy suite of on-line modules provides a thorough introduction to global crisis management best practice, from basic principles of crisis management to team organisation, crisis communication, crisis leadership, and more, all of which are fully customisable to each client’s organisation.
The business continuity manager of a global beverage company stated that: “Our crisis management teams comprise executives responsible for various departments or functions across our global organisation and the target audience for the online training. As the company grows, so does our need to train more leaders to be skilled at crisis management. Online training meets the need to provide timely education to our leaders on the fundamentals of crisis management.
“The modules developed by CS&A are aligned with our internal crisis management programme so it is an ideal 'fit' to have these modules as part of our library of resources for our teams. The modules themselves are engaging and interactive which is always preferred when delivering training online,” she adds.
While eLearning cannot replace the depth and scope of traditional face-to-face crisis training, modules such as those provided in CS&A’s CrisisEcademy will complement your existing training and exercise programmes to align and sustain crisis preparedness across your teams.
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