July 25, 2016

Implementing a hotline provides substantial benefits beyond event reporting and assistance requests. When effectively established, they include predetermined event response protocols based upon the characteristics in a risk profile. This extends a high level of flexibility in building protocols tailored to specific world events in support of the entity's risk mitigation strategies. Examples might include preplanning a protocol response for political/election based unrest or high visibility events such as the World Cup and Olympic Games that can present an increased threat potential.

Hotlines also provide real time insight into adverse events with the capability to impact travel. As an asset, this allows Chief Security Officers to be notified in near-real time of employee illnesses, injuries, threats or to trend requests for assistance. This provides an ability to track the benefits gained in training and awareness campaigns and also reveal potential gaps in preparedness before these could escalate into impactful crises. Alongside notification, multiple security team members can be conferenced in to an active call to provide immediate support toward addressing active threats followed by developing an incident action plan with key stakeholder communications to address event developments.

Hotline best practices must include initial and ongoing training of the coordinators responding to the communication. This should include capabilities such as active listening, risk management, intense and emotional situation management in order to promote personal safety, stability, and establishing connectivity between the employer and their employee necessary in facilitating each aspect's needs. These capabilities must be routinely exercised in order to sustain the performance levels required in events whose magnitude mandate a synchronized surge effort to rapidly return an organization to normal or near normal operations.

Operationally, protocols support location-specific instructions where Risk Managers are rapidly contacted based a pre-established threshold of country/regional events. Assigning points of contacts for local to events enables communications to be directed to in-country SMEs familiar with the landscape and cultural dynamics that can impact response effectiveness. These dedicated assets provide a level of response to urgent events facilitates streamlined and cohesive action to threats 24/7. In relation to drilling and exercising these assets, best practices should include exercises to measure response protocols to ensure response timelines defined in current policies, plans, and procedures are in aligned. These drills and exercises also test the reliability of planned communications to Risk Managers that may be in remote areas of the world with less than optimal cellular signal or internet connections.

As we close this topic, in-depth planning, setting expectations, and routine review cannot be overstated when constructing and maintaining an effective Response Hotline. Given the numerous time sensitive issues being reported around the clock; only with clear, trained, and tested directives can an organization facilitate a rapid response to address the widespread instability of events fundamental to ensuring rapid assistance to employees and the requisite level toward the protection of assets.