Regardless of whether you’re hundreds of miles away from hurricane zones or right in the middle of one, here are a few ways you can ensure that your employees know what to do to react to—and even prevent—disasters.
Practicing Responsible Actions
Some of the most catastrophic side-effects of any disaster are often man-made and panic-induced. While you’re certainly not going to stop a hurricane with HR regulations and accountability, you can keep the majority of minor preventable accidents from turning into full-scale tragedies by simply making sure your employees know what to do in order to minimize the damage.
Fire drills are excellent examples of this philosophy. Accidental fires aren’t uncommon, and even the smallest of inadvertent blazes can turn into a catastrophe if it isn’t handled correctly. Teaching employees the importance of order in the face of a disaster, running them through the steps to take in the event of a likely emergency, and conducting timely drills will ensure that your people know what to do if the unthinkable happens.
Of course, not all disasters are preventable, making worst-case scenario planning a must.
Planning for Disasters
Disasters—both natural and artificial—have the capacity to cause significant damage to both your personnel and your company’s progress. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to anticipate and avoid every disaster, which is why you should take protective steps to ensure that the overall damage to both your business and your employees is as minimal as possible.
You should already have a general emergency evacuation plan in place to prevent any employees from getting hurt, but there are several other things you can do to protect other valuable assets:
- Make sure employees have insurance on the personal items that they keep at work.
- Back up all employee records and company data to an external, off-site location such as the cloud. (See: Not Keeping Accounting Records in the Cloud Could be a Disaster)
- Insure your building(s) for basic, common damage in addition to natural disasters that are common in your area.
- Stock emergency supplies on every floor.
- Stay connected to alerts about ongoing emergencies, both local and within a reasonable radius.
- Have a communication plan with your employees, such as text alerts, and test it regularly.
- Have a commonly understood escape plan that you update regularly.
The last point is especially important, and there’s more to having an effective escape plan than one might initially think.
Crafting an Escape Plan
In addition to keeping it posted on every floor as required by law, the ideal emergency escape plan is intuitive, easy to remember, and often practiced. To that end, having a straightforward escape plan through which you run your employees once a month should technically be enough to keep everyone on the same page; however, there are a few caveats you’ll have to keep in mind.
Firstly, you’ll need to verify the effectiveness of the escape plan every day. This might be as simple as walking through it on your way to your office or checking to make sure that maintenance isn’t occurring on a crucial part of the route. The reasoning behind this is basic: emergencies can happen at any time, so your route must be completely clear all the time.
If you encounter an obstruction or some other issue which makes your current escape plan less viable than before, you’ll need to update your escape plan immediately and take your employees through it—even if the escape plan’s impediment is only temporary. Having back-up plans can also mitigate this inconvenience.
Another factor to keep in mind when crafting your escape plan is conditions which might render the plan ineffective. For example, if your escape plan revolves around going through a basement structure but the current disaster involves flooding, you’ll need to have a secondary route in mind. Perhaps the easiest way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to create multiple escape plans for different scenarios, but keep in mind that you’ll have to verify each one daily, thus increasing your workload.
Ultimately, the number and appearance of your escape plans will depend largely upon your location and the types of disasters your business is likely to face. There isn’t much sense in spending crucial time working out an earthquake procedure if you’re in an area which isn’t even affected by tremors.
Your employees’ well-being is the single most valuable asset you have to protect, and making sure your people know how to perform in an emergency is a good first step toward keeping them safe. For more information about how you can create a safe, emergency-ready work environment, call Abacus Payroll today at (856) 667-6225.