Are You Prepared if a Disaster Strikes?

Have you been intellectualizing that business continuity planning is important? Just like in golf, having desire, information, skill and technology is one thing, execution is another. We handle payroll for thousands of people and have an obligation to get employees a paycheck, even during a disaster. We hired Galena Property Services to help us create a formal plan where I am not the point person but the mouthpiece in a crisis. Responsibilities have been delegated so no undue burden lies with any one person. Consider the components of the plan:

Risk assessment – We established a grid with likely disasters, what is the probability of occurrence, and how each would impact employees, clients, property and our business. We ranked them low, moderate, and high whereas earthquake is number one, followed by flooding and loss of power.

Crisis Action Team (CAT) – The CAT takes key areas and assigns a responsible party to ensure communications sync up in the event of a tragedy. We designed a “grab and go” laminated one sheet synopsis of each person’s role and their responsibilities, specific contacts, explicit ER instructions, i.e., “pending an incident which impacts life or safety of business call 911 then call CAT.” We’ve spelled it out like a kindergartner because what usually takes nine seconds to comprehend under normal circumstances takes 40 seconds under stress.

The Resources – We assume everyone is following the playbook to minimize chaos. Our CAT binder has emergency instructions for all CAT members and is the comprehensive “source” for any type of business interruption. Each team member possesses a thumb drive with the entire binder contents. There are step-by-step instructions, for example if the servers go down, what we would need to bring up from day one to two weeks’ worth of process. Vendor partners (property managers, telecommunications, banks, and IT consultants) participated and identified elements not thoroughly considered, clarified our assumptions – some realistic and others not – about how they would help, and made our plan more well-rounded.

Considerations – What we found is that a business continuity plan reflects corporate values. Ours is the wellbeing of our staff. Our plan helps leadership sleep at night and helps employees feel secure. We are working through the plan, executing drills, and notifying our clients about expectations during certain disasters. In a parallel process, we are seeking rate reduction in our various insurance policies.

If you asked your employees, clients, and vendors about how well your company is prepared for a disaster – would they respond confidently?

Written by Jim Annis President/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Tom Miller, and Nissa Jimenez, Applied’s division directors, contributed to this article.