Responding To Disasters

Whether it’s a snow or ice storm, floods, wildfires, massive power or communications outages, businesses need to know how to respond to disasters. While no one can predict what may happen or when, the best way to do this is to be prepared for such events beforehand.

In a recent article by Sonia Fiorenza for HR Technologist, preparing your organization and your employees will help you to respond quickly and effectively no matter what kind of emergency is involved. Of primary importance is the fact that the majority of employees in the workforce are considered “deskless”. According to a report assembled by leading venture capital firm, Emergence, some 80% of the global workforce doesn’t have regular computer access. Being able to communicate with them in times of crisis becomes a challenge if the usual modes of communication are unavailable.

Put an Emergency Plan in Place and Review it with Workers

  • Put an emergency communication plan in place and review these with all levels of workers within your organization. Check the employee manual to see whether such emergency plans need to be updated. Part of this process should go over various risk analyses and responses to those risks.

  • Update current organizational charts, complete with contact information in case of an emergency. Maintain a list of employee contact information as well as vendors and suppliers as well as government agencies to call in case of a natural or man-made disaster.

  • Once finalized, decide on how management, HR, and workers will be informed in the event of an emergency. Sometimes this may be through direct communication through apps, handheld devices or other means. Companies may also be able to work with emergency services and with local television, media or other public information channels.

  • Workers will want to hear from the company first, even if they don’t have all of the information. Update as often as possible to keep workers informed. Schedule training or drills to review disaster plans and procedures. Get feedback from workers about what works, what doesn’t and listen to ideas on how to make it work better.

  • For organizations that have multiple offices across the country or the globe, Fiorenza suggests making emergency alerts segmented to the areas that are affected in any given emergency situation.

Most important of all, organizations should put employee safety first. Get information to workers as quickly as possible and keep them engaged in the response to a crisis and in assisting in its aftermath.