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It’s time to add eLearning to Your Crisis Preparedness Programme

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Solid crisis resilience rests on three pillars: One, tried and tested processes; two, competencies; and three, superior judgement gained from experience. All three aspects work hand in hand, and any one of the three missing causes imbalance and risks “bringing the house down.”

In recent years, several crisis management surveys (including the one jointly conducted by PRNEWS and CS&A International in 2019) highlight some concerning gaps in organisations’ overall crisis readiness. [1] [2] Whilst many organisations have Crisis Plans in place, less than half are updated and many have never conducted a crisis exercise.

Like the 9/11 attacks, which significantly raised the need for enhanced crisis readiness across organisations, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have a similar impact, until complacency sets in, and we drop our guards once again. Except this time, technology and the general acceptance of remote working are on our side, so it’s high time to take full advantage of virtual learning to hone in and sustain crisis management skills.

Addressing the gap in crisis management competency is a challenge for every organisation. Periodic Crisis Management Teams (CMT) membership changes mean 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 CMT may have just missed the yearly training and thus must wait months to catch up with their colleagues. The resulting gap in knowledge and experience levels among team members creates an added risk that is an ongoing frustration for crisis resilience managers.

More frequent training sessions are not always feasible when organisations lack in-house resources and must rely on external expert trainers, which can be costly. So how to build and sustain crisis competencies in your organisation when training is scheduled once a year at best and when there are inevitable comings and goings on your CMT?

Gratefully due to digital advancement, training is no longer confined to the classroom. Yet, ever since the emergence of eLearning, there has been a debate on its applicability to crisis management competency development. Whilst 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 by expert trainers “live” to be effective.

Nevertheless, crisis management eLearning has become a valuable complement to traditional in-person learning and development by bridging the gap between face-to-face sessions to onboard newcomers and to sustain an organisation’s crisis competency development programmes. Some organisations have already integrated eLearning into their crisis preparedness activities. The crisis manager of a global pharmaceutical group explains, “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 the sustainability of the crisis process in a such huge company.”

The key benefits of adopting eLearning include:

  • Flexibility: eLearning provides scope for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and helps CMT members refresh and enhance their skills. When it comes to accessibility, eLearning or mobile courses offer anytime and anywhere learning, which is not 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 into 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 most practical way to share updates with all concerned.

  • Cost-effectiveness: crisis management eLearning is a cost-effective supplement to traditional training programmes that delivers critical baseline knowledge more frequently to help sustain skills while reducing trainer dependency.

To achieve the crisis management competency development objective, 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 online learning modules that succeed in keeping the learners engaged throughout.

The CrisisEcademy© eLearning programmes embody the critical features of high-quality training that will help to improve and develop CMT crisis management skills. Developed by CS&A international, leading crisis resilience specialists with more than 30 years of experience, the CrisisEcademy© eLearning courses provide a thorough introduction to global crisis management best practices, from basic principles of crisis management to team organisation, crisis communication, crisis leadership, and more, that are customisable to different organisations.

According to the business continuity manager of a global beverage company, “our crisis management teams are comprised of executives responsible for various departments/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.” She adds, “The modules developed for us by CS&A International are aligned with our internal crisis management programme, so it is an ideal 'fit' to have these courses as part of our library of resources for our teams. The modules are engaging and interactive, which is always preferred when delivering training online.”

Whilst distance learning cannot replace the depth and scope of traditional face-to-face crisis training, dynamic eLearning courses developed by crisis professionals will complement your existing in-person training and exercise programmes and help align and sustain best practice crisis preparedness across your teams.

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