Instantly Out Of Work — The Result of a Disaster


Family safely reunited, but . . .!

We easily imagine what it’s like for the people who survive a massive storm. We picture family members coming together again, clinging thankfully to each other. We imagine them picking up debris, patching roofs or broken windows, cooking around a makeshift campfire.

But then the news coverage – and our imagination – switches to something else. And we forget that for many of these people the real emergency is just beginning, because they are out of work!

I was struck by this quote from the Alabama study that followed its disastrous April 29, 2011 storm, when 62 separate tornados touched down. The quote reads:

“Instantly, 7,000 people in Tuscaloosa were out of work. . .”

Now out of work.

Take a minute to reflect on the threats faced by your business. You may not be the business owner, but if your livelihood depends on this business, here are some things worth thinking about:

  1. What are the most likely threats? Power outage, chemical or material spill, train or truck wreck, computer system sabotage, fire, flooding, earthquake?
  2. If the building and business were shut down completely, how long could the business survive before customers would be forced to go somewhere else for service?
  3. What business processes could be carried on elsewhere – for example, could some work be done from a temporary office? Could some employees work effectively from home (if they had power)?

How to protect the business?

  1. Have you discussed an emergency preparedness plan for the business? This would help you make changes now, before the emergency, that would help get the business back on its legs. A typical emergency preparedness plan includes:
    • Identifying and fixing vulnerabilities in the physical structure of the building or in daily business routines.
    • Identifying the essential business processes that could keep customers satisfied until you could get fully back to work. Often, this is as simple as having a way to let customers know what is going on!
    • Training specific employees to understand and be ready to shoulder special responsibilities in case of an emergency. This could range from grabbing and using fire extinguishers to grabbing and protecting company records.
  2. Have you considered recovery actions that will be required after the disaster hits?
    • Where could the business be run from if not from its current site?
    • Which employees would be expected to come back to work, and under what conditions? Do they know and agree to this?
    • Do you have the supplies and tools these employees would need to carry on during the emergency? This might include customer and account lists, computers, office supplies, and cash.

Unfortunately, the statistics on small businesses surviving after a complete shut-down are not good. Even companies with a disaster recovery plan will face a huge challenge. Still, with a plan, they may have a much better chance.

Surely your business deserves that chance.

 

If you need more information on how to protect your business, check out:

A simple one-page tool:  Seven Steps

And watch for our 2017 Version of the Simple Business Continuation Plan, coming soon!

 

 

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