Fires in California, tornados throughout the mid-west, flooding in the farm lands and closing in on another hurricane season – welcome to Mother Nature! As a business owner, especially a small business owner, are you ready?
Hurricane Katrina is estimated to have displaced close to 1 million people and it has taken months if not years to get people back to work. For those businesses who did not store their HR data off site or electronically, they may not even be up and running yet. This type of destruction, while financially devastating, is also mentally and morally debilitating to employers and employees – especially if you are not prepared to face the aftermath of these disasters.
The economic loss to communities and small businesses can be especially hard to grasp. Large companies have policies on leaves of absence and continuation of pay in the face of disaster. Small businesses can look at what they can do for their business, their employees, and their clients and be as prepared as possible.
After the attacks of 9/11, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) endorsed an initiative knows as the National Preparedness Standard (NFPA 1600) for private businesses. This standard is voluntary but is the benchmark used in measuring a company’s preparedness.
NFPA 1600 states that employer’s need to:
· Maintain accurate emergency contact information to enable the businesses to reach employees and if necessary, next of kin.
· Have in place procedures by which the business can let employees know of any important or new developments – this could be on a web site, telephone chain, program bulletin board.
· Understand where important documents and information is stored, hard copies and/or electronic copies and know how to retrieve them. This information can include not only employee information but also client information.
In addition, from a human resource perspective, it is important to:
· Review current policies and make sure they reflect your company’s need to accommodate leaves of absence, pay, benefits, communication, and equipment.
· Understand the compliance issues that a disaster may bring, such as ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) and reasonable accommodation. Catastrophes can bring about injuries and stress .
· Develop and plan for the need to possibly telecommute and who to contact and how to set up temporary offices.
How small business reacts to a disaster can not only provide continuation of services or products to clients in need, but also a process to bring employees back to work as soon as possible. This will go a long way in providing economic relief to clients, customers, employees, businesses and the hard hit disaster area.
We at EffortlessHR understand the need for safe and secure data handling and information storage. We pledge to provide 24/7 service to businesses in need of preparing for a disaster or catastrophe. All you need is access to an Internet connection and if you have used the EffortlessHR program, you will be able to contact your employees, post needed emergency notices on the Home Page and in effect, be able to maintain your staff – either by them working from home, a secure center, or wherever you can “set up shop”.
Don’t be swept away by fire, wind or rain – be prepared.