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Defining a business or workplace crisis

A crisis can shake a company to its core. Regardless of your company size, structure, or protections you have in place, you can never be immune to crises and incidents. But a crisis is not an "issue". Issues, problems, speedbumps, hiccups, etc. occur all the time; pretty much every day. However, a crisis is a sudden, large-scale event that threatens the continuity and stability of a business.

For example, a few bad customer reviews? Not a crisis. Your database is hacked by malicious actors, leaking the personal information of customers? A crisis. A small downturn in sales? Nope. An explosion at a factory? Yes, almost certainly.  

In short, a crisis is something that severely impacts one of two things: people, or the business. You could categorise the impacts into these areas:

  • Public safety
  • Financial loss
  • Reputational damage

Types of crisis

Crises can take a number of different forms. However, some threats are more likely to materialise than others, and this is dependent on the internal and external business environment. For example, a remote technology company would likely face more digital risks – data leakages, etc. Whereas a manufacturing company based on a fault line would be more risk of physical or environmental risks, i.e. earthquakes.

Some common types include:

  • Financial crises
  • Technological crises
  • Organisational misdeeds
  • Workplace violence
  • Malevolent acts
  • Epidemics and pandemics
  • Natural disasters

Which of these are you most likely to be affected by? Do you have systems in place to mitigate and respond to them?