Sunday, September 26, 2010

You May Be Ready, Are Your Employees?

I am sure you’ve heard that September is Preparedness Month. If you are engaged in your company’s business continuity planning effort then you know the story. Be it storms, quakes, floods or man made incidents your viability coming out the other side of the experience depends in large part on the quality of your planning beforehand. That said it really is like the old saying, “the battle plan is good until the first shot is fired…” Still, proper preparation provides a foundation that provides resources and allows you to adapt intelligently.

An important but sometimes overlooked item in contingency planning is the personal preparation of employees. Think about these two numbers:

  • 93% of your employees and unprepared. They have taken no steps to provide and care for themselves in the event of a major disaster or event. For example, they do not have alternate communication plans or designated rally points for their family.
  • 75% of company business continuity plans do not support employee resiliency. We assume (and your Business Continuity Plan probably does as well) that employees will be on site, unconcerned with anything but work, fully functional and motivated.

If it were only so, but it’s not. Here is a basic list of things planning and exercises should anticipate.

  • During weather and quake events especially you should assume that not all employees will be able to get to the office. Some because they have to take care of the home front, some because they physically can’t get there.
  • Those who are “at the office” will be under stress and may react differently than expected. Some may be emotionally or mentally paralyzed by events. Others will automatically go into “fix it” mode while yet others are focused on taking care of co-workers. Some might be traumatized by their inability to contact, secure and comfort their loved ones.

Here is the point of this discussion: Organizational and personal preparedness are linked. Understanding this it is important to next decide what your organization will do about it. Among the obvious are encouraging all employees to audit their personal preparedness, including providing suggested templates, and to develop their personal continuity plans.

You’ve put a lot of effort and resource into preparing your corporate business continuity plan, and it depends on employee availability and participation. Helping employees prepare themselves is the right thing to do.