Employee Safety: Vital in Disaster Recovery Plans
Jay Pillai, Ph.D. Posted on January 4, 2016
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) Plans are essential for employee safety.
One of the most important factors in any organization and the first priority is to protect life and limb. Business interest comes only second. All BC/DR Plans are designed for disaster recovery and business continuity with employee safety as a vital component of both. It is only when employee and their families are protected, will employees focus on business recovery..
A disaster or pandemic can affect the entire region and cause major disruptions. In such scenarios, how does an organization ensure employee safety?
Analyze how a disaster will impact the employees
- Ability to work – in a disaster scenario, anything can happen. An employee may be trapped in her home. She and her family may be made homeless or may be injured. The employee may be unable to get to work since roads are blocked and there is no transport available etc. The DR Plans should factor in such a possibility and take steps for mitigation and employee safety.
- Can the employee deliver critical services? – the disaster may have cut the employees landline and cell phone services. It may be difficult, or even impossible, to connect to the employee for a status update. The DR Plans should have agreed assembly points so that all employees can be accounted for. If a change in site location is called for, the employee’s concerns should be addressed to the extent possible. The DR Plans should have an emergency communications plan.
- HR role in DR Plans – DR Plans usually entrust a key role to the HR department. They can keep track of the locations of displaced employees. The BC/DR Plans should take care of the payroll plus the benefits, so that the employees will get paid, even during a crisis. Additional funding may be required for providing disaster relief and the BC/DR Plans has to factor in this aspect. Such simple things give the employees a sense of ‘belonging’ which will boost their morale during the crisis.
- Maintaining Business Operations – without knowing the status of employees following a disaster, disaster recovery and business continuity steps will be hard to follow. It may be necessary to use temporary employees hired from employment agencies, so that the employee shortage may be overcome. Multi-task training should be given to all employees as a part of BC/DR Plans to ensure that critical business functions can be resumed.
- Employee Policies and Communications – As a part of DR Plans, all policies and activities affecting employees should be identified and documented. During a disaster, existing leave policies such as sick, casual, maternity leave etc. can be suspended and leave policies can be modified to be flexible and beneficial to employee well being and morale. Employees should be updated at regular intervals.
- Identify ‘First Responders’ – since the first responders are crucial to the success of the BC/DR Plans, they should be identified and secure means of emergency communications should be ensured. They should have clearly identified duties and responsibilities. However, depending on the exigencies of the situation, they should have sufficient training to step into different roles.
- Communications Plan for External Agencies and Stakeholders – A sound communications plan should be developed to keep employees, stakeholders, media, suppliers, vendors, partners etc. updated at regular intervals. There should be only a single point for such communications. The communications, though accurate and honest, should not be needlessly alarmist.
- Employee Education and Training in DR Plans – the success or failure of a DR Plan depends on the training employees receive. They should be thoroughly trained on how to respond to an emergency once it is declared. Such training should not only cover ‘First Responders’, but also all other employees. The employees should be made aware of all updates to the DR Plans and necessary training should be imparted. Employee training should be such that ‘Safety First’ is a part of the work culture.
- Make BC/DR Plans a Part of Corporate Thinking and Culture – Once all employees are informed and understand the importance of BC/DR Plans, they understand the importance and respond positively. If a disaster strikes, a well trained and informed set of employees, is a priceless asset in execution of BC/DR Plans.
A disaster can strike at any time. BC/DR Plans that have been tested and modified, executed by well-trained employees, enable an organization to recover quickly. Well trained and motivated employees, can swing into action to tackle the disaster head-on, not recklessly, but with safety and responsibility, as per the DR Plans.
Categories: DR Plans, Employee Safety