According to the Insurance Information Institute, 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. When disaster strikes, consumers can only wait so long before moving on to another supplier or service provider if you are not able to get operational in time. Insurance might help to recover some of your loses, but it will do little to replace your customers. More importantly, the safety and well-being of your employees as they cope with disaster is a hefty task in itself to take on. In light of recent events, many organizations are left wondering, are they ready and prepared when disaster strikes?
So just what does it mean to be ready?
Investing in a preparedness program can make all the difference in the world when disaster strikes and promote an internal belief that your company is ready for disaster when it strikes. This policy should reflect the mission and values of your organization that can be implemented seamlessly throughout the company. Focal points of your preparedness program should detail specific goals including:
- The overall safety and protection of your employees, visitors, and any other persons that may be at your facility when a disaster occurs. Don’t forget to account for persons with disabilities and special needs.
- Keeping customer service operations functional
- Protection of assets, both in the physical and electronic form
- Environmental protection and contamination prevention
- Companies image and reputation
Having a team to help continue the improvement and implementation of your program is vital to its success when needed. Your team should meet regularly to continue the development and focus of the program. Each individual will have their own role and responsibilities when disaster strikes, a proper preparedness program will identify these, insuring an accountable team to help in the recovery process.
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How do you know what to plan for?
It’s impossible to predict what the next disaster will be, but accounting for any and all threats or hazards possible is your best approach to developing a plan of action and being ready when the time comes. This is a timely process that takes time and research, but can be extremely important in the time of need. When developing your risk assessment, consider the following approach:
Identify all possible hazards or threats:
Fire, explosion, natural disaster, hazardous material spill, terrorism, workplace violence, pandemic disease, utility outage, mechanical breakdown, supplier failure, cyber attack
Assess each hazard by probability and magnitude by:
People, property, supply chain, systems, equipment, information technology, business operations, reputation, morale, environment, ongoing obligations
Your vulnerability and potential impact:
Casualties, property damage, business interruption, loss of customers, financial loss, contamination, fines and penalties, lawsuits
As you determine your strategies and business impact to each risk, keep in mind each scenarios unique potential. Determine your strengths and weakness based off your analysis. This gives you a baseline to work off and the information needed to identify areas for improvement.
Implementing your preparedness program includes several components for success. Your first steps include identifying and addressing all available resources available, writing detailed plans, training/explaining plans to employees, and a means to manage incidents as they occur.
Each organization is unique and will have its own specific guidelines that address their specifics. However, certain aspects of your plan will be unique to your region and location. When developing strategies to implement your plan, don’t be hesitant to reach out to local businesses for comparison, and ensure the best possible implementation strategies for your team.
Training and testing your plan
Develop ways and means to test your plans to understand their strengths and weaknesses. As you test your plans, your training will improve and become more effective when implemented. There are exercises that you can develop to run through your plans. This can provide you with important information in evaluating and improving your process. The benefits to testing your plan are important to understand as your develop and perfect your preparedness program.
From time to time, policies change and objectives can change. Organizations need to take the corrective actions necessary to adapt and modify their agendas. Your preparedness program is no different when it comes time to review. The effectiveness and efficiency of your program can be highlighted with a good review process and provide your with the necessary corrective actions to take. Making sure your program is up to date on current regulatory laws, new hazards, and any other significant changes to your business can be addressed through periodic reviews.
There are several resources available to your organization when developing a preparedness program. This is simply a guide and a way of raising awareness to the importance of being disaster ready. It’s a process that requires constant improvement and awareness, which takes a commitment at every level within your organization.
No one is ever completely prepared for a disaster whether it’s natural or human, but the more prepared your organization is when the time comes, the better off you are at keeping your people and customers safe and sound.
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