As we look forward to a brighter year in 2021, the impact of COVID-19 has created some bleak times for the club industry. The global pandemic affected business for many clubs, as most struggled to combat the unprecedented pressure of keeping their organisations afloat. Most had to learn to adapt and be resilient as they suffered economic, health and safety issues. Clubs across the state have done a great job in adapting to these circumstances. However, this pandemic has highlighted the importance of having safety measures in place to combat crises.
A crisis doesn’t necessarily have to be a global pandemic – there are many unpredictable events that can affect your club. Events such as service disruptions, member dissatisfaction, natural and man-made disasters, and economic downturns can affect clubs’ stature, reputation and financial needs. Therefore, it is important for clubs to implement safeguarding strategies to ensure employees, members and the local community are being protected in times of uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided key takeaways for clubs to better prepare for the future and combat unprecedented events. Here are some steps to consider.
Crafting a strong communication strategy
Maintaining internal communication is key in sustaining a solid foundation during a time of a crisis. Clubs should provide their employees and members with constant updates, support resources, emergency notifications and training in order to deal with crises. Furthermore, it is important to establish a communication order whereby succinct information should flow from the club committee/ board and employees/volunteers and members. It is also important to facilitate a two-way communication method; this will not only help you disseminate crucial information, but help you listen to your community’s needs and concerns. It will show that you value your community and reinforce trust and good reputation from your members. If, however, you do not maintain communication, your club’s reputation could be tarnished and members may be unhappy.
Creating an ‘others-first’ mindset
All clubs have a duty to support and safeguard their employees, volunteers, members and other people within the community. In the midst of a crisis, a club’s first priority should be ensuring the safety and well-being of its employees and volunteers. Situations such as the pandemic can affect the welfare of employees and volunteer, making them unable to conduct work appropriately. Hence, clubs must monitor the situation and make changes in order to support their employees and volunteers and provide a safe workplace. Following the pandemic example, employee and volunteer support may be in the form of providing them with resources to follow in time of a crisis, such as the World Health Organisation’s report on safety measures. Supporting employees and volunteers successfully will mean that you will acquire their support during or after a major disruption.
Engaging with club members
Club members are the most important stakeholder group for clubs, so it is important to engage with them during a period of disruption. Similar to employee and volunteer communication, members should also be provided with updates and support systems, to address their concerns. A ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document can be useful for addressing community issues and member concerns. Engaging with members will show that their interests are a priority for your club and will help maintain good reputation and trust within the community. As seen through the impacts of the pandemic, support for local businesses has been substantial. If clubs maintain engagement with the community, their members will naturally be more empathetic to the club during a time of crisis, and provide the same support to local clubs.
Creating a crisis management plan
Arguably, the most important step for dealing with unprecedented events is creating a Crisis Management Plan (CMP). The basis of this plan is to highlight steps and procedures for your club to follow when responding to emergency situations. Having the procedure in place prior to a crisis will help minimise the damage caused. It can do so by providing your club with internal and external communications strategies to address the issues to the community. The CMP should encapsulate the aforementioned steps and create a detailed and measured plan to ensure your club can tackle the pressures created through a crisis. Where possible, the plan should include pre-emptive methods of mitigating the crisis before it becomes worse.
There can be a multitude of emergency situations that can arise out of nowhere. While most can be contained, some provoke more damage. Therefore, a CMP will help your club navigate emergency situations.
The impacts of COVID-19 are ongoing and clubs need to be aware of the possibility of a second wave. This and any further issues will highly benefit from a crisis management plan and ensure your club’s safety during a period of uncertainty.
The following info-graphic shows you how to create a Crisis Management Plan for your club: