Survival at Work, Survival of the Business — or Both?

What is the status of YOUR workplace?

Unless you are retired, independently wealthy or work at home, the chances of you being at work during a disaster are pretty high.  And according to most statistics, over half of all small businesses have no emergency survival or business continuity plans.

Which half are you in at your workplace? No plan at all?  Or a plan, that you’ve actually practiced?

Office scene

Will your business and co-workers survive?

If you have a plan, congratulations. Now, here’s another question.

Does your plan attempt to protect the business as a whole? We know from our experience and from research that many (if not most) business continuity plans are still focused mostly on preserving data.

Finally, if you have a plan, how easy is it to follow?

In general, the simpler the plan, the easier it is to implement.

And the need for a simple business continuity plan is greatest where . . .

  1. diversity of the workforce is greatest,
  2. workers have a variety of skill levels, and
  3. people differ in their command of the language.

A simple plan is important for the individual workers’ safety in an emergency, but it’s also important for their fellow employees’ well-being since the actions of one person can affect others in the area.

First priority — your people

Whatever the size of business, one key factor should be part of the planning . . . the welfare of the people: staff, managers, employees and any visiting people — vendors, customers, etc.  Naturally, we start with a concern for their survival and physical welfare.

For employees, though, you must add a concern for emotional well-being. Only if employees are satisfied that loved ones and family are safe will they have the presence of mind necessary to be part of the business survival team.

In fact, without the assurance about their families being safe, employees are not likely to stick around if they can find a way to leave!

Action Item:  We urge you, as business owner or disaster preparedness team member, to build into your plan provisions for establishing communications with family members. This can be as simple as an emergency phone number outside of the area (a regional office of the business or a supplier, for example) where relatives know to call in and report on their situation and where they can find out about what’s going on with people in your workplace. And, vice versa, where employees can call to check on their family members. Naturally, this emergency phone number needs to be set up in advance and staffed appropriately.

Second priority — your Business Emergency Response Team

As for preparing for emergencies, do any of the people you work with have first aid or Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) training?  If so, these are the people who should be on your business continuity team and, the skills they have learned and the interest they have shown make them logical candidates for leadership of your Business Emergency Response Team (think “B.E.R.T.”).

Note: The people most suited to leadership on the Emergency Response Team may well be other than your management staff! This is no time to insist on seniority or title.

Third priority — Meeting legal obligations

Requirements are different depending on the size of your business, where you are located, what industry you are in, etc.  By and large, though, no matter what your business, you need a plan.  For sure, you should know what your legal requirements are and know that you are meeting them.

Getting started on building a Business Disaster Recovery or Continuity Plan.

Our  Emergency Plan Guide Advisories deal with some of these challenges that you face at work, and offer possible solutions.  Go to Build Your Survival Skills in the sidebar, and click on Business Planning to get all our Advisories for business.

If nothing else, subscribing to a regular series of reports — that is, our Advisories — will alert you to new issues and encourage your commitment to the safety of your co-workers and the continuity of your business. Sign up now to be sure you don’t miss any of them.

And you can start today to actually develop a Simple Business Continuation Plan by requesting this free download. The special seven-page report will guide you step by step, with recommendations about WHO should be building the plan and HOW to test it.

Questions?  Be sure to be in touch.

Joe Krueger & Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team