Contingency Planning at the MFSA
AUGUST 26, 2020
By Calvin Cassar, Head, People & Culture at the MFSA.


“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” - Abraham Lincoln


Towards the end of 2019, the People & Culture team at the MFSA set out  plans and objectives for 2020, with the aim of further extending general capacity and internal capability. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic called for a shift in approach and the tapping into contingency scenarios. Contingency planning is not about reacting to set circumstances but is rather about having systems and structures in place to meet emerging requirements as they may arise. It essentially represents the sharpening of the axe, in preparation for the time needed to use this for chopping.


Let’s Look Back

2020 put the MFSA’s contingency planning capability to the test and called for rapid adjustment and deployment of mechanisms from a technical, procedural and relational point of view. Contingency planning took place as a joint activity across functions with Technology, Administration and Facilities, Communications, Risk Management and People & Culture, with all stakeholders contributing towards managing potential scenarios from their different unique angles.

Technology acted as a key enabler by providing tools, including applications and systems, to allow, amongst others,  for remote work. These were augmented with a relatively rapid deployment and shift in work arrangements, undertaken to ensure the safety and well-being of employees.

Adjusting work patterns was a first step undertaken to look into well-being. Gradually, and over a number of weeks, good parts of the workforce shifted to remote work. In recognising the adjustment needed, a training programme was rolled out for all supervisors and managers to allow for the sharing of experiences in the remote work context, and to offer guidance on mechanisms to allow for effective management under the new circumstances.

In order to address the emotional impact of extended remote work, People & Culture also looked into the setting up of internal initiatives allowing for the engagement of employees in an informal manner. Tools such as remote collaboration applications allowed for out-of-work hours social interactions between colleagues, and a number of sessions were set out to allow for engagements on mindfulness, physical well-being and others.


Looking Ahead

COVID-19 does not appear to be a short-term challenge, but rather one that will protract for the coming months. Looking ahead, it is important to look into sustainability of measures, and the potential long-term impact of measures undertaken to address the scenario. Mental well-being and resilience will be key to sustain organisational performance and the achievement of long-term objectives set by the MFSA.

Careful monitoring of the unfolding scenarios, coupled with quick and effective deployment of operational strategies, will be key towards achieving success. Additionally, a good understanding of individual needs, and respect towards the varying interpretations of similar scenarios by different individuals, will be significant. 2020 called for a change in approach, but the retention and commitment towards meeting the established objectives. In some instances, the axe will go blunt, in which case it is important to sharpen the blade before working further.