Could HR solve...? Die Hard

A hostage situation brings a company’s festive celebration to an abrupt halt

The problem

German villain Hans Gruber and his heavily armed cronies seize control of Nakatomi Corporation’s offices, and take staff attending the office Christmas party hostage. In the face of such unexpected and terrifying circumstances, how should managers deal with the situation? Is it possible to train employees to remain calm in a major crisis?

The solution

Anna Rae, freelance HR and recruitment professional, says HR “certainly had more to worry about at this Christmas party than misuse of the photocopier”.

As she points out, managers were already dealing with an amorous couple in one of the private offices and drug use on the premises, so once the terrorists forced their way in, bosses weren’t set up very well to respond.

However, in the event of dangerous situations like this, she recommends organisations have formal procedures in place to ensure all staff are accounted for, the emergency services have been contacted and everyone is kept calm and informed of what’s happening, and that these are followed rigidly.

“Some employees – like pregnant PA Ginny – might require extra support if possible,” Rae says, adding that managers should ensure no one tries to be a hero, as “not every workplace has a John McClane”.

With comprehensive procedures and sufficient training in how to respond to a crisis, Rae says employers will be able to safely deal with a life-threatening situation “quicker than you can say ‘yippee ki-yay’.”