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Human Resource Planning: Do You Have A Disaster Recovery Plan?

By December 18, 2012February 19th, 2015No Comments

woman in the suit keeping near the rescueHuman resource departments should have plans in place that encompass unexpected events.  A one-hundred year event that happens on an annual basis, are truly unexpected, but nonetheless, can cause critical disruption to business.

What lessons can businesses learn from Irene and Sandy?  How does your HR deparment and your organization prepare?  Do you have a disaster recovery plan?

Hurricane Sandy was the largest and second most costly Atlantic hurricane on record, causing damage that will likely top $20 billion. In the United States, Hurricane Sandy affected at least 24 states, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. When its storm surge hit New York City, streets, tunnels and subway lines were flooded, and power went down in and around the city. In addition to the personal hardships that hurricane victims faced, countless small businesses were displaced or disrupted. If there is any silver lining to this horrific event, it’s that Sandy has given us a clear reminder that as business owners, we need to have a disaster recovery plan in place.

Disasters need not be of the hurricane variety to cause significant business disruption. Essentially, any incident that interrupts the normal course of business, such as an office fire, a broken water pipe, or a major snowstorm, qualifies.

Every business, large and small, should have a disaster recovery plan, also known as a business continuity plan, which involves input from management, supervisors and employees, as appropriate. The plan should include mobilization procedures, notification guidelines, call trees and other pertinent information for the business as well as plans for crisis management. The goal is to take measures so your business won’t suffer significant financial loss or total business failure in the event of an emergency.

Planning ahead in this way has numerous benefits including:

  • Decisions can be made quickly and efficiently when disaster happens
  • Your business can continue despite a disaster
  • Data and back-up systems will allow you to continue to operate
  • Important information and documents will be available, even if the originals are destroyed
  • You will be a better leader and manager

A disaster recovery plan does not need to be complicated or expensive. The plan should focus on all the business functions that are vulnerable to disaster and those that will have the highest impact on losses should disaster actually strike. Once you’ve identified the mission-critical business functions, you should prioritize recovery strategies for each function. At a minimum, you should:

  • Develop a communication strategy that identifies the various means of communication with your employees, customers, and critical business constituents. Keep a list of 24-hour emergency numbers for all your employees, and develop a call tree to keep employees informed.
  • Back up important data, such as accounting and employee information, as well as customer and inventory lists, in the cloud using a reputable service provider. Alternatively, you can make your own backup copies of all critical documents, but be sure to store the copies in a location other than your place of business so you can easily gain access if you can’t get to the office.
  • Review insurance policies to ensure you are adequately covered for property insurance, so if needed, you can replace damaged or destroyed equipment or other assets. You should also consider business-interruption insurance, which covers lost income in the event the business is forced to shut down temporarily.
  • Develop a contingency plan that outlines how you will continue business operations if you lose access to technology or your place of business. If you and your staff are unable to work remotely, you may need to identify a secondary location where you can set up shop temporarily.
  •  Develop a similar contingency plan in case disaster strikes a vendor. Have a contact list for alternative vendors and suppliers at the ready.

Its important to test the plan periodically (at least every six months) to be sure that it remains feasible and that it is updated to include any changes to your business. With advance planning, you can mitigate business interruptions and financial loss in the event of an emergency.

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