An emergency preparedness plan for your employees is essential to ensure the safety and survival of everyone in the wake of a disaster, and to minimize damages to your business. Talking with your employees about preparing for emergencies should be included in any orientation and ongoing training. There are also other opportunities to discuss the issue, and keep it fresh in their minds. With a plan in place, you’ll be able to continue operations if possible.
Revise and Review Employee Handbook
The easiest way to talk about emergency preparedness with employees is to include a plan in an employee handbook. If you’re a small business owner with no handbook, write a short document detailing your plan, which should include (if applicable):
- Procedures for employees to contact family members (if phone lines are limited)
- Checklist for closing the office
- Point of contact for employees to inform employers of their well being if at home or elsewhere
- Phone tree lists
- Wellness Check Form, asking questions such as: 1) Are you and your family safe, 2) Do you have power on, 3) What are your food, water and medical needs?
You can require employees to fill out a short form to verify that they’ve reviewed this section, and provide them an opportunity to ask questions or make suggestions.
Solicit Input on Preparedness Supply Purchases
Use a meeting to discuss emergency preparedness, and to solicit input from employees. Introduce and couch the topic as something that makes sense in little areas, not just in major catastrophes. Use a whiteboard, computer and projector screen or large newsprint pad to record a list of suggestions made by your employees for preparedness related purchases. Ask questions as items are named, such as “Why would we need that?”, “Which Preparedness Kit would be best for our company” or “How could we use that in the case of a flood?”
Disaster Preparedness Plan and Training
Hold training for employees on emergency preparedness, during work time, so that they’re paid for attending. That will help to set the tone for the importance of preparedness, because you would have made an investment in your time and their wages to talk and learn more about the topic. Purchase a DVD on the subject to show to employees and follow up with a discussion. Another alternative is to hire an expert to conduct a training session for a couple of hours or a half day session to address emergency preparedness in the workplace. Encourage employees to actively participate in the workshop and to ask questions. Provide an incentive if possible for completing related worksheets. If time permits, include training on disaster preparedness at home. You’ll keep the employees even more interested in the topic, and they’re more likely to remember and apply the information.
The more prepared your employees are, the better it will go in a crisis for their families and for your business. Make the purchases and hire the experts necessary to help in your discussions with employees about emergency preparedness.