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 contingency plans.

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

Is this you, just before the earthquake?

If you have a business contingency plan, congratulations.

  • Does your plan attempt to protect the business as a whole? (We know from our experience and from research that many business contingency plans are still focused mostly on preserving data.)
  • Do employees know what is in the plan?
  • How easy is the plan to follow? In general, the simpler the plan, the easier it is to implement. The need for a simple business contingency plan is greatest where diversity of the workforce is greatest, workers have a variety of skill levels, and people differ in their command of the language.

First priority of survival at work — your people

Whatever the size of business, your first priority has to be 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.

carpenter working on new home
Hurrying to finish before the promised storm hits.

You can look to OSHA for everyday safety recommendations – in particular during special circumstances like the COVID pandemic. Your industry association will also describe best practices for health and safety.

For employees, though, you must also 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 or web page in the cloud where employees and relatives know to check in. Naturally, this emergency phone number needs to be set up in advance and staffed appropriately. (Here’s an Advisory that deals with more aspects of crisis communications.)

Second priority — your Business Emergency Response Team

Do any of the people you work with have first aid or Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training?  If so, these are the people who should be on your business contingency team. They are also logical candidates for leadership of your Business Emergency Response Team (think “BERT”).

Note: The people most suited to leadership on the Emergency Response Team may not be your management staff! This is no time to insist on seniority or title.

Third priority — Meeting legal obligations

Requirements for having plans for survival at work 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.

Office setting
Power outage in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – . . . .

Getting started on building a Business Disaster Recovery or Contingency Plan

Our  Emergency Plan Guide Advisories deal with some of these challenges that you face at work. To get an idea of the kinds of materials you’ll see here, check out these five most recent business-related Advisories:

If nothing else, subscribing to 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 using the form at the bottom of this article to be sure you don’t miss any of the Advisories.

A simple guide to survival at work

Emergency Preparedness for Small Business - Krueger & Nicols
DIY – with the help of current employees and advisors

Emergency Preparedness for Small Business is available at Amazon. It contains many more details on all these suggestions! In particular, it guides the business step by step, with recommendations about WHO should be building the plan. Click on the link to get a more complete description.

Questions?  Be sure to be in touch.

Joe Krueger & Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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