Why Focusing on People Is Important to Business Continuity

  • By AFP Staff
  • Published: 11/3/2022

People in a lobbyDeveloping and updating business continuity plans is an important part of risk management. It allows companies, and individual departments, to think through various scenarios and set out procedures to cover those eventualities. One such scenario is staff shortage, which can occur due to planned absence or longer-term reasons, such as multiple resignations.

It is normal for companies to have some staff shortages. All staff take vacation, and team members get sick from time to time. In addition, it is important to expect some turnover in staff, as people leave companies for a range of reasons, such as the offer of a new career or family circumstances.

Some turnover is healthy for companies. New employees bring new ideas and provide companies with the opportunity to change working practices without too much stress. (It can be easier to ask someone new to adopt a new process than persuade existing partners to change established habits.) Turnover also opens up opportunities for internal promotion.

The situation becomes critical if there are mass resignations or if multiple people are out sick at the same time. In this case, business continuity planning becomes important. The use of technology to automate standardized processes will help by reducing the number of activities that require manual intervention, such as the authorization of certain payments. However, some manual intervention will still be required, and treasurers need to plan how they will ensure sufficiently qualified people are available to make those decisions if different combinations of team members are absent. Suitably qualified individuals from other departments can be given access to relevant technology to provide cover in certain scenarios. An automated process will ensure an auditable separation of duties is still in place, a vital protection against the risk of error and fraud.

In addition to planning for the worst-case scenario, treasurers can also work to try to minimize the risk of mass resignations. They can indicate a problem with departmental or company culture, which can make recruiting more difficult too. Developing a strong culture of supporting departmental colleagues is critical to both fostering best practices and minimizing the operational risks associated with a lack of personnel. Talking with each team member on a regular basis will help to identify their motivations and ambitions. Team leaders can then provide a combination of training and internal development opportunities to retain their team members’ engagement.

Focusing on people is always important. It has become critically so since the beginning of the pandemic. Good personnel management may not prevent all resignations, but it should give managers a better understanding of likely leavers, enabling them to make plans.

Want to learn more? Check out the 2022 AFP Treasury in Practice Guide: People Side of Business Continuity, underwritten by Kyriba.

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