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Four steps to help your employees during a catastrophe

The importance of developing, maintaining, and testing preparedness plans cannot be overstated.

Make no mistake, helping keep your employees safe is a business priority. If they don’t have the resources to get to a safe and secure area, they won’t be able to execute critical crisis management, emergency response, and business continuity plans.

Here are four basic planning steps to help your employees through a crisis — be it a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake, or another unforeseen event.

  1. Help employees become personally prepared. Start now by providing education about personal preparation during a natural disaster. There’s ample free information available from the federal government and local communities. Let employees know where they can access it online or through other means. You can also invite organizations like the Red Cross to come in during business hours to discuss preparedness with employees.
  2. Help employees prepare when a storm is forecast. Provide website links or literature about how employees can prepare their homes for disasters. Make sure weather updates are readily available at work. Consider giving employees time off to prepare homes and families. By taking these steps, you can reassure employees that their families are safe, helping them to stay focused at work.
  3. Provide a way for employees to check in. After the storm or during the activation of your plan, regularly update employees on when your business will reopen and when they can return to work. Keeping lines of communication open will also help you recruit employees to help with cleanup. Remember: Two-way communication is key. Give your employees an easy way to update their managers on their status and ability to return to work.
  4. Help employees get back on their feet.  After a severe event, be creative. Allow an extra day off for home repairs, or provide employees with needed supplies. If you have several employees with losses, consider inviting a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or insurance representative to give a seminar or lunch-and-learn about filing claims. But remember that not all damage is physical. Consider providing stress counseling or similar resources.

Taking these four steps can make a difference. Not only will it help employees manage and recover from storm impacts, it can also boost employee morale — and it’s just the right thing to do.