Human Resources may have responsibility to prepare policy manuals, and having a strategy and plan in place for a disaster such as a hurricane should be part of that plan. The event surrounding Hurricane Sandy remind us that an emergency preparedness plan should be created long before the need for one arises.
For businesses in the wide path of this Hurricane, losing power and losing information could have been a reality. Planning ahead mitigates the risk associated with managing a workforce during a natural disaster or crisis.
Now that the imminent situation has passed it’s time to evaluate your company’s response to prepare for the future.
Here are some ideas to incorporate in your emergency business plan and policy manual:
- Notification policy. Have a current, updated list with contact information for each employees. Make a plan to notify then if there is a crisis. It could be a chain of phone calls where the supervisor alerts his team, or it could be a website with centralized information. Whatever the plan is, be sure to communicate where the information can be found and how it will be communicated.
- Designated Spokesperson. When a crisis occurs, it’s important to have a policy in place that designates who is to speak on behalf of the company and who should not. If conflicting information is shared, there will be confusion. There should also be a designated chain of command with regard to decisions that may need to be made. Responsibility should be designated by position, not by individual.
- Redundant systems. If your offices were destroyed or the building was flooded, you should have a way to access the records and information. A physical back up can be destroyed, but a cloud based or redundant system will be available regardless of the facility. Personnel records should be part of the database that is has been backupped to the servers, and precautions to comply with HIPAA and privacy acts should be followed to prevent information being inadvertantly accessed or shared.
- Duplicate important paperwork. Critical paperwork should be duplicated and stored offsite. If your business needs original signatures on documents, these should be scanned and then moved to a safe location. There are companies that offer document storage services and who are expert in providing secure filing. When the documents are gone is not the time to investigate whether one of these services would meet your organization’s needs.
- Remote workers and network. Remote workers are a way that many companies can expand business. With more and more remote workers, it’s important to have policies in place that govern these employees. For example, is the equipment their own, or does it belong to the company. What can company issued smart phones be used for? Remote workers can be an important business tool, yet managing them effectively from a human resource perspective requires appropriate policies to be in place.
- Prioritize business processes. Some business functions must be maintained or resumed quickly. These processes and personnel required should be designated in the preparedness plan. Assign responsibilities by job function, not by individual. This will assure greater longevity for the emergency business plan and policy.
- Have a disaster plan. Waiting for an event like Sandy to happen puts a company in a reactive position. Instead, having a proactive contingency plan is much more helpful. Determine what the eventualities may be and how they should be handled. And be sure to communicate the plan.
When the unexpected occurs, or in the event of a natural disaster, having a policy or plan in place can mitigate business losses. A policy will also assure that employees are all playing wiht the same set of guidelines therefore it will reduce conflicts and confusion.
Do you have an emergency plan in place? Is your organization prepared to handle emergency situations?Button Text.