Whether it comes in the form of a hurricane, fire, earthquake or any other natural or man-made disaster, businesses that properly plan for crises reduce the chance of costly disruptions in operations. They’re also able to resume normal business operations more rapidly than business that get blindsided.
So the question is: How can small companies make sure they survive these catastrophes? Experts believe proper planning is the solution. And with hurricane season fast approaching, now is the time to lay the groundwork.
Small business owners should ask themselves a series of questions to ensure preparedness:
- Where could continued business operations take place? What about customer-facing operations?
- How would operations continue if headquarters or essential buildings are damaged or destroyed by storm-force winds or water?
- Would employees know where, if at all, to report to work?
- Would the necessary resources be available to continue operations?
The answers to these and other important questions can be addressed in a hurricane/disaster preparedness manual tailored for each organization. The manual should be specific to each business, but flexible as a disaster may impact a company in several unpredictable ways.
Below are some of the key points that serve as the foundation of a hurricane preparedness manual:
Critical file backups
Company files and data are a business’ lifeline. If the computer system (or information contained in its files) is damaged or destroyed, a company may not be able to reconstruct important financial information, client databases or employee records. Having a secure off-site facility that stores and protects this information will make the recovery process much more manageable.
Crisis management teams
Organizations should identify the employees who are necessary to spearhead emergency response efforts. It should also be made clear which employees would better serve the company by working from home. Leaders should be sure workers are aware of their status and the role they will play if disaster strikes. Companies may also consider a plan for the crisis management team’s safe transport to and from a base of operations.
A communications plan is needed to quickly and appropriately connect with employees, families, service providers, contractors and the public during each stage of an emergency. With the constant intake of new and developing information, it is vital that this process be streamlined as much as possible. For example, decisions need to be made about who will communicate human resources-related information to employees and how those communications will be accomplished.
Also, plans must be developed to determine who will be responsible for coordinating emergency efforts with clients. Organizations should also consider delivery channels. Email blasts, cell phones, and other avenues should be considered to find the right fit for that particular business. Company owners should also keep in mind that some utilities, including power and conventional phone lines, may be interrupted for hours or even days in the event of an emergency, so communications plans should also include details on back-up communication methods.
Choosing a company spokesperson
Media, clients, and even the general public may be interested in obtaining information concerning an incident that affects an organization’s operations. It is the company’s responsibility to be transparent, consistent and truthful about any information that will affect those stakeholders. One person should know all pertinent details and serve as the single point of contact concerning external inquiries.
Business representatives should review existing insurance policies on all company property and facilities to ensure appropriate and adequate coverage is in place. Policies and instructions for their use and access should be kept secure in an offsite location. Emergency plans should include insurance company contact information, policy numbers, coverage periods and policy restrictions.
In order to respond to all of the likely demands that will inevitably arise, a significant amount of preparation is required before a disaster strikes. Employees will be desperate to receive information about office closures, the status of their paychecks and even their job status. Customers, as well as news media, may have an interest in understanding the impact on the business. If a comprehensive crisis management plan is created before disaster strikes, companies can be confident in their ability to address each issue competently.Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 31 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit http://www.insperity.com.