Hurricanes Harvey and Irma created headaches for business owners and managers along the southern United States. A natural disaster can leave a business inoperable for weeks, and it can affect your company's bottom line. Prepare for such events with a written plan that has several facets.
A formal plan is essential to the recovery of your business following a natural disaster. The plan must outline precisely what must happen before, during and after a hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood or blizzard.
1. Contact Information
Every employee should know what resources to tap into and who to contact during a natural disaster. The cover page of the plan should have the details of how to contact an emergency team. This dedicated team of employees has the training and know-how to follow through with the procedures outlined in the plan. Communication is the key during a crisis, as your leadership team must maintain headcounts, contact family members to let people know their loved ones are okay, and tell people what to do during the emergency.
2. Specific Outlines
Every type of natural disaster should have a specific outline for employees to follow, since how you react to an earthquake or wildfire is different from your reaction to a tornado or hurricane. Human safety is of paramount importance. After that, your plan should outline how to keep your business's property safe.
Documenting the disaster is important for insurance purposes. This documentation should include a timeline, such as when everyone evacuated the building. Another element should be a list of the damaged property so an insurance company can ascertain how much a claim should be. Each employee involved in the disaster gives a statement to the appropriate company official who maintains all of this documentation.
The written portion of the plan must outline when it's time to update the guide. During this update, consider running a drill to ensure every employee knows what to do during a natural disaster. Think about the timing of the drills. For example, if hurricane season is about to start in June, try having a drill in May and then again in September so the training stays fresh in everyone's minds.
5. Resuming Work
The final part of the plan should give the expected recovery time following the disaster. It might contain information about an alternate office site, rules for telecommuting or how to contact customers.
Other Things to Remember
Along with a plan, your company must have the proper insurance in place to recover from a disaster. The insurance company needs information, which you should store in a cloud-based system so you can access it anywhere. Every employee needs to know how to act with regards to the plan, so sharing it with all relevant staff, vendors and suppliers is a must.
No one wants to deal with a natural disaster, but having a written plan in place keeps problems to a minimum. When every employee on your team knows what to do, they can recover from the disaster and get back to work faster.
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