UK Businesses Reliant on ‘Bulldog Spirit’ to Cope With Disaster

In times of crisis, UK businesses rely more on the strong resilient actions of their staff, rather then a detailed business continuity plan, a new study by BT Global Services has revealed. The research, among employees of UK companies and public sector organisations, suggests that bosses are counting on team spirit to save their businesses in a time of crisis rather than putting proper measures in place and communicating them to all staff members.

Seventy-three per cent of workers surveyed believe UK organisations rely on the dedication of their staff rather than detailed plans to get them through a disaster. Over a third (34 per cent) did not know if their company had a business continuity plan and a further 41 per cent said they didn’t understand it or had not taken the time to read it.
Tim Smart, CEO BT Global Services UK, said: “The research has highlighted an alarming lack of understanding among UK employees when it comes to how they and their organisation can best cope with a disaster. Senior management teams need to communicate comprehensive business continuity plans and their associated risks to staff far more effectively to ensure minimum impact on the business should such an event arise.”

The research revealed however that the resilient ‘Bulldog spirit’ of the British is still very much in evidence. Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of workers said they would want to return to work as soon as possible after a disaster such as flooding, fire or IT failure if this meant their company were adversely affected. Meanwhile, 61 per cent felt it was their responsibility to help get things up and running again if a disaster struck.

Ragnar Lofstedt, Professor of Risk Management, King’s College London, who worked with BT on the study, said: “The spirit or resilience is clearly alive and well, showing that employees of UK firms are prepared to battle on in adversity. However I am concerned that, positive though this resilient streak is, it is actually exacerbating the problem by making employees blasé to the threats that exist in the post 9/11 world.

“Corporations understand the threats, but they need to communicate them better to their staff. The fact that so many either cannot be bothered or cannot comprehend their business continuity plans is seriously worrying. Organisations must realise that this resilient spirit is not enough and ensure that all the checks and fail safes of risk management are firmly in place.”

Workers in the financial services sector felt most responsible. Seventy-two per cent of finance workers felt a responsibility towards helping their companies get up and running again after a disaster. In contrast, only 51 per cent of retail, media and leisure workers felt the same way; the lowest of any sector.

Tim Smart added: “This ‘Bulldog spirit’ is something UK businesses should harness. Explaining business continuity roles and responsibilities to employees will focus their loyalty and resilience on areas that will be of most use in the event of a disaster.”

The research also revealed that staff can easily be responsible for security breaches. Nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of those questioned did not believe that losing a mobile device containing sensitive data was a disaster.

The types of disaster people worry most about include a major technology failure (36 per cent), virus or hacking attack (26 per cent), a major power or utility failure (24 per cent) and a possible natural disaster (18 per cent).