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Taking Good Care

Creating contingency plans for meetings and events

By I.J. Schecter

Duty of Care plans are crucial for organizations to uphold their legal responsibility to protect employees from harm. That same responsibility extends to meetings and events. Today’s meeting and event owners and planners need to be ready for the unexpected and prepared for the unanticipated, which means preparing thoughtful, comprehensive plans for emergencies or crises. Here’s how to create a Duty of Care plan that will guarantee your staff and attendees are safe, your company is covered and your reputation stays intact.

Leverage others

“Get input from your clients, employees, volunteers and suppliers,” advises Andrew Spencer, account executive with Toronto-based ProLink Insurance Group. In addition, reach out to your corporate travel, HR, security, risk management and legal department to see whether they have emergency plans, a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) or an existing Duty of Care program you can adapt. It’s a good bet one or more of them already has an agreement you can use to tailor to your specific needs.

Keep it simple

“Make the plan robust but straightforward,” suggests Milton Rivera, vice-president of global business development for American Express Meetings and Events. Clearly identify roles and responsibilities, actions required in different situations and steps to execution within every type of scenario. Spell out everything in well-organized detail, in simple language that people can review quickly, digest easily and act on swiftly.

Check insurance

Before completing the plan, check your corporate insurance policies to make sure meetings and events are covered—and if they aren’t, be sure to get them added. There are more unknowns and unpredictable variables than ever today, so it’s critical to ensure you’re properly covered.

Test the plan

Review the plan thoroughly by getting different eyes on it. Socialize it internally with key event resources. Go through the steps live by conducting a simulation. Check that all information is current and centralized. Make any adjustments or tweaks before getting ready to roll it out to staff and stakeholders.

Communicate the plan

It’s not enough just to have a plan; you need to make sure people know it exists, and that they understand the actions it contains. Circulate the plan multiple times, at various intervals, via different channels and formats—email, webinars, the company Intranet, town halls or live training, to name just a few.

Get endorsement from the top

Have your leaders and executives communicate their support of the plan. Ensure their communications mention that different internal departments and external sources have been consulted. Write the communication in a way that unequivocally conveys the fact that they feel the plan is important, and that everyone else should follow suit.

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