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Why HR leaders need to play a critical role in crisis management

A crisis can wash ashore at any time for an organization—from claims of sexual harassment by a CEO like those facing Elon Musk of SpaceX to major cybersecurity breaches like the one experienced by AT&T to global health crises similar to COVID-19 that touched every employer. Without effective crisis management strategies, situations like these can spin the heads of HR leaders—and result in long-term talent and business impacts that include reputational damage, loss of revenue and disruption to operations.

Bryan Strawser, CEO and principal of crisis management company Bryghtpath and author of The Role of HR in Crisis Management, says HR leaders must have a place on the crisis management team or, at minimum, a plan of action for managing potential crises.

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That’s because a crisis damaging the reputation of an organization or its leaders can hurt an organization’s ability to recruit candidates, as well as retain employees, Strawser and other HR experts say. Reputational damage can also result in an employer paying at least 10% more per hire, according to a Harvard Business Review report. Additionally, a large-scale crisis—be it a natural disaster, pandemic or war—can significantly impact employees’ safety, mental health and overall wellbeing, all key areas where HR shoulders responsibility.

Strawser recently spoke to Human Resource Executive about HR’s role in a crisis and what HR leaders need to do to prepare for the unforeseen.

Dawn Kawamoto, Human Resource Executive
Dawn Kawamoto
Dawn Kawamoto is HR Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist who has covered technology business news for such publications as CNET and has covered the HR and careers industry for such organizations as Dice and Built In prior to joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected] and below on social media.