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What To Do If A Critical-Role Employee Is Suddenly Unable To Do Their Job


At times, even your most valuable employee is unable to make it to work, leaving you stranded. What do you do? The role they take is so essential that the company cannot run without their responsibilities being undertaken by someone.

Since business has to run, as usual, do the following to ensure business continuity.

1. Look Into Your Risk Management Plan.

A risk management plan refers to a map of what shall be done in case something happened during the execution of a project, including what should be done when a valuable employee can’t work after a motorcycle accident, sudden illness, or similarly unforeseen event. A good manager needs to ensure they have a comprehensive risk management plan to mitigate risks. In case the problem occurs, you need to determine the appropriate mitigation that fits the issue. You first need to assess the role of the key employee. After determining their skill set and contribution, you take action.

a. Reshuffle Duties.

If someone else in the team has the same skills and can take the place of the critical role employee, give them this role and shuffle the roles in the meantime. But this is usually rare since there are scarce employees with the skill of a critical employee, particularly technical knowledge. This solution might impact the productivity of the employees due to the reshuffling of duties. But it can work if all responsibilities are handled.

b. Business and Not Technical Knowledge.

At times, key players are exceptional due to their business knowledge as opposed to technical knowledge. In this scenario, you can always find someone else who has similar skills in the company. Comprehend deeply the specialized business knowledge possessed by the absent employee and then look for it elsewhere in the organization. Speak to other departmental managers and request for a member who possesses these skills.

c. Hire a Consultant.

In case you are unable to find someone with the specialized technical knowledge, consider recruiting a technical consultant. Many recruiting firms can have a consultant with you in less than a day. The consultant will come, complete the work, and leave.

2. Reexamine the Project Plan.

After reorganizing the team or finding the right person for the position, you require to re-examine the project plan in place for moving merchandise, improving customer service, and closing deals. Check if the plan makes sense with the current participants. Also, check if you can deliver results on schedule. If it can still work as planned, maintain the plan. But if the plan cannot work with the adjustments made, you can change it. You would rather make adjustments as opposed to setting unrealistic deadlines for the members of your team that will end up disappointing the stakeholders.

3. Consider the Critical Role Employee.

After sorting out the hiccups in your project plan, you can now think about the key team member. You can ensure that his time off work is considered as paid leave. Also, look for other ways to support them during this difficult time. If they feel supported, they will be happy and come back as soon as they get better because they know they are valued.

Additionally, the other employees will also be motivated since they will see that you value your employees. You can dig into the staff welfare kitty and use the money to organize a visit of the team members to the employee’s place. Remember to buy a gift for the employee as you visit them.


Being down a person should not put a stop to your business. You need to have a plan in advance for sorting such a case. If you don’t have it, develop one right away.