Security Exchange News

Covid-19 - Individual and Organisational Crisis Fatigue

28 October 2020

In this latest update, Security Exchange specialists focus their attention on a phenomenon known as Crisis Fatigue. This concept has the potential to produce devastating effects for both individuals and organisations.

Globally, it cannot be denied that Covid-19 continues to create concern and stress. This can be made worse where social media gives credibility and airspace to ‘the latest report’ or ‘preliminary study results’ and so on, feeding on our need for ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.  Add to that the much-reported state-sponsored misinformation that looks completely genuine, and it is little wonder that we simply don’t know what to believe. Add to this the economic distress and uncertainty associated with personal and business failures, and you may be left with a feeling that could best be described as ‘deflated’.

On an individual level, psychologists have identified that Covid-19 has generated a number of emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, disappointment, frustration and uncertainty.  This in turn has created a level of anxiety, leaving many with a feeling of having reached a ‘point of no return’ or ‘crisis fatigue’.  Although yet to be officially labelled as a clinical condition, scientists such as Brad Russell have outlined that crisis fatigue is a “human response to unrelenting stress that can cause a person to feel physically numb or tired.” Russell goes on further to suggest that Covid-19 has created an environment where physiological effects on individuals have left them feeling ‘overwhelmed and stressed.’

Applying the above train of thought to businesses, it is very likely that leadership teams responsible for the resilient response of business to a host of risks including Covid-19, are feeling similar effects to individuals.  An insight into the range of stress factors which may be giving rise to ‘organisational crisis fatigue’ is provided in the findings of a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group.

Close to 350 senior risk professionals from large companies around the world were asked to outline their ‘most worrisome’ concerns.  Approximately two thirds of respondents listed the following most- mentioned answers directly associated with the effects of Covid-19. 

Top Risks to Global Businesses

Dealing with many of the factors highlighted, it would be reasonable to expect leadership teams to adopt a co-ordinated approach when dealing with the challenges presented by Covid-19, making use of established crisis management plans and procedures.

Security Exchange specialists have identified two significant and consistent failings of business leadership teams. The first is where individual feelings impact negatively on decision making.  In ‘normal times’ this would be a problem but where crisis team members are likely to be suffering from crisis fatigue, it becomes much more significant. The second failing is a reluctance to apply established procedures and training to issues arising out of Covid-19.  When combined, these failings affect the organisation’s ability to withstand ‘organisational crisis fatigue’.

Never has there been a greater need to identify symptoms relating to conditions such as crisis fatigue. Security Exchange are experienced in coaching crisis teams and helping team members to deal with their individual crisis fatigue, thereby preventing the issue from becoming an organisational problem.