Crisis Management of your Human Logistics Capital

Nancy Anderson
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Multinational organizations everywhere continue to discover effects from the deadly earthquakes and floods that hit Japan. The human and emotional loss is unfathomable. Not to distract from the healing process on the personal level, but the long term effect on global logistics is still not known.



Corporate disaster plans take many forms, but we have seen very few that delve deeply into the theory of what IBM refers to as “Human Capital Management”. We all assume we understand the immediate effects of tornados, hurricanes, power outages, international travel restrictions, and even more localized issues like transit strikes, blizzards and floods. What happens when really large areas are affected, especially “at home”?



If the “cloud based” back-up systems, emergency generator, alternate shipping chains, and decentralized warehousing all works perfectly, that’s great! But what if the humans that would make these systems work can’t get to the office, can’t connect remotely, or simply are “missing”? Many logistics professionals have found that their supply chain partners and sometimes their own companies are not prepared for the potential impacts on their workforce. While most businesses have continuity plans in place, many completely omit the company’s most precious assets: its employees.



In their publication “The personal side of business continuity” the IBM team identified key areas for organizations to consider as they prepare to handle the human side of business disruptions.
In a portion of this report they wrote “Disruptions resulting from these and other disasters have rippled across supply chains, shaken entire industries and taken their toll on employee, customer and partner relations. While it is important to build resiliency into your business operations, it’s equally important to build it into your human capital.”




The report defines Human Capital Resiliency as “an organization’s ability to respond and adapt rapidly to threats posed to its workforce. Organizations that build resiliency into their human capital are more likely to protect their most valuable resources and maintain continuous operations in the event of a crisis.”


Excerpts from pertinent sections of the report state:







  • In a crisis, many organizations will be challenged to safeguard employees while continuing to keep the business operational.



  • If employees have been displaced from their homes, they will need time to find new housing or even relocate to other areas.



  • Employees who are safe and willing to work through a crisis simply might not be able to get to work. Public transportation systems and roadways will also be disrupted.



  • Mobile phone, landline phone, and internet cable can all be down during a crisis, making the close coordination via physically or electronically bringing people together a significant delay in the decision making needed during recovery efforts.



  • Without normal communication channels, your organization may be limited in its ability to maintain business relationships with customers and business partners.



The report closes with “Remember, it’s rarely business as usual after a crisis. The effort your organization makes now to protect your human capital resiliency in the event of a disruption will go a long way in helping it – and your people – recover after the worst is over.”




By K.B. Elliott




K. B. Elliott is a freelance writer for LogisticsJobSite.com. Working various logistical positions in the Detroit area for over 30 years gives him a unique perspective on the process. More of his blogs are at LogisticsJobSiteblog.com, and be sure to check out the postings for jobs in nearly any industry at Nexxt.




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