Businesses are finally putting business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans in place, only to discover that all their planning efforts are basically useless if their employees are not on hand to execute the plans during a crisis. Employee unavailability is largely due to their not being personally prepared at home for a crisis. Employers will find their businesses will potentially suffer loss of revenue, reputation, and customer loyalty if they cannot deliver their services as usual. Stress and anxiety can become overwhelming for both employers and employees during these critical moments. The employer experiences anxiety to meet deadlines, satisfy his clients, and keep his business up and running. The employee experiences high levels of stress not being able to go to work for fear of losing their jobs. If the employee does go to work during a personal crisis at home this will potentially put the business at greater risk as they more than likely will not be focused and may be inadvertently entering data incorrectly, forgetting tasks or critical steps and not able to perform as required thus causing more harm than good to the business.
So how do you fix this? Institute a prep-at-home program at work! Ensure your employees are personally prepared at home for a crisis.
First, make sure your organization does have a business continuity Plan and that all employees are aware of it. Second, make sure you as the boss and your entire management team are prepared at home, and are accessible when the employees need you. If the boss doesn’t have a plan, you can’t expect your employees to have one either. Third, institute a Prep-At-Home program at work. A consistent planning effort across your organization will not only boost morale, but also improve your company’s recoverability odds. Your program should give the guidance, templates, and the support employees need to document their own continuity plan at home.
Employees and each of their family members should have a list of who they would need to personally contact during a crisis. The list should include family members, neighbors, care providers, doctors, insurance, etc. It should detail the main contact number, an alternate number, email address, and social media addresses. An out of town contact (ie. family member) should be included. Copies should be kept on their cell phone, accessible via computers, a printed wallet size copy, and even a copy in their car or backpack. The out of town contact should have a copy as well. Their communication plan should include a strategy for one: who’s calling who, two: when to call (regular checkpoints), and three: what to do if you don’t hear back in an agreed amount of time.
Employees should designate a meeting point outside of the home where they would reunite with loved ones if the home had to be evacuated. This may include a relative or neighbors home or a local store. However, they should also include a second meeting point outside of their immediate town in case of a full evacuation. This would be vital to know if phone lines are down. Make sure caregivers are aware of your plans.
Employees should first establish family guidelines as to when they should evacuate and when they should stay put. If they plan to evacuate they should identify in advance where they would go (i.e. second home; relative; neighbors), also identify a second location (i.e. local shelter). If there is an immediate need to evacuate the home every family should have a Grab-n-Go kit accessible to the main door. It should contain copies of vital documents (i.e. identification, passports, insurance; contact list); basic medical supplies, clothing, blankets, flashlights, radios, snacks, maps, batteries or chargers, and a copy of their personal continuity plan. Vital documents should also be maintained off site (ie. safety deposit, backup drive or the cloud). If a family is unable to evacuate and is required to Shelter-in-Place they should plan to have supplies to be able to remain in place at home for a minimum of 7-14 days. Supplies should include food (ready to eat meals that may be able to be prepared without gas or electricity), water, medication, first aid kit, toiletries, pet supplies, etc. They should be mindful of expiration dates on everything.
Advise your employees that they should consider alternate routes to work. Some strategies included public transportation; carpooling; back roads instead of main highways; alternate commuting times (non-prime time traffic hours); alternate office or branch location; or work from home. If your employee will be working from home, make sure they are equipped to do so and that this is tested in advance. If all of your employees intend to work from home, make sure this is tested simultaneously (i.e. on a weekend) to ensure your company’s infrastructure can support everyone logging in remotely at the same time.
Do you know how many of your employees have personal continuity plans in place at home? Employees may have plans in place, but they may not have all included the same critical planning components or strategies. Do they know what to plan for or how? Instituting a Plan-At-Home program will ensure that everyone is preparing in the same way. If all of your employees are using the same standards to prepare at home, your business will be have a great comfort level on the reliability of each of it’s team members.
Don’t assume your employees can work from home via the internet. What happens if there is a power outage? What happens if their own internet lines are down. What happens if your network is down? What happens if phone lines are down? What happens if they don’t have access to the their files at work? This all needs to be planned and tested in advance. Make sure their personal plans account for these types of situations and so does your own Business Continuity Plan.
Don’t assume that your employees will always be there because they are loyal and you’ve never had a problem before. Family always comes first (and that goes for any job level of responsibility) and everyone will put work second to ensure loved ones are taken care of. Make sure you have a plan at work in the event of absenteeism. Cover your bases by ensuring you employ consistent Prep-At-Home plans.
Make sure your companies Business Continuity Plan, has contingencies in place when your employees are unable to come to work. Make sure critical functions and responsibilities are documented clearly so that someone else can complete any necessary tasks when needed. Make sure your plans are accessible to all employees and that they have exercised performing someone elses job functions. Make sure everyone knows who will be responsible for backing up someone else.
There are lots of resources available on the internet (i.e FEMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army). If you want to ensure that all of your employees are thoroughly prepared the same way and everyone has completed a plan you may consider a professional consulting team that specializes in Prep-At-Home. They will work with your organization and your employees to institute a consistent program.
Ensuring everyone has a Personal Continuity Plan in place at home will help your company’s recoverability. Having plans in place in advance makes everyone calmer during a crisis. With a personal continuity plan in place your employee will be less stressed and better focused at work; their families will be better equipped to manage a crisis on their own. Planning at home will reduce absenteeism and your company’s downtime.
By instituting a Prep-At-Home program you will also gain employee loyalty because you’ve shown you care about their personal well being. As an employer, you will have greater peace of mind in knowing you’ve now done everything you can to ensure the recoverability of your business.
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