As an individual who recognizes the need for self-reliance and personal resilience, you’ve prepared yourself and your family for a wide array of emergencies that could impact your everyday life. You’ve stocked up on home essentials, added the necessary layers of security and protection to your home, talked to your family about how to stay safe during times of crisis and ensured your own level of self-reliance so you can see your family safely through most major disasters.
However, have you done the same for your business? Disaster can strike anywhere and at any time. Are your employees prepared and how will you help them through a disaster until they can safely return home? How will you protect your people, infrastructure and your operations? This is why companies create Emergency Action Plans (EAP) and conduct Emergency Preparedness Audits.
Emergency preparedness for your company includes these six (6) steps:
- Prevention and Mitigation: What can your company due to prevent or reduce the cause, impact, and consequences of disasters? As my grandmother used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Avoiding a crisis is always the best plan. Ensure your company has good security procedures, safety protocols, and digital security awareness. Consider conducting a security needs assessment on your physical office space and a cyber assessment and technology review of your digital footprint.
- Assessment: Plan, train and educate your staff for events that cannot be mitigated. What kinds of emergencies can affect your business? When events cannot be mitigated, what critical operations need to continue on a day-to-day basis in order to stay in business? Once you’ve identified these mission essential operations, develop plans focused on these areas first, to ensure the train stays on the tracks throughout the crisis response.
- Preparation: The first time you think about how to react in a crisis shouldn’t be during a crisis. Take the time now to plan and effectively address and prioritize the most important elements of your business continuity. By preparing for a crisis, you cut down on the confusion and chaos common with crises. Get your team together in a low stress environment where you can dive into the details of crisis response and address your needs BEFORE an emergency. This will empower your team to react appropriately under stress.
- Practice: Once you’ve developed emergency action plans with your team- Practice, Practice, Practice. Bring your employees together and test out the plan. Use the crawl, walk, and run method to identify any weaknesses, strengthen the plan and ensure everyone is on the same sheet of music.
- Respond: Sometimes bad things happen to good people. The response phase occurs in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. This is when you should initiate the emergency action plan. Be prepared to adapt the plan to the realities of the situation. But know that your preparedness will lessen the chaos common with crisis situations and expedite your company’s return to normal operations.
- Recover: During the recovery period, restoration efforts occur concurrently with regular operations and activities. As you work to normalize your operations and bring things back on line, you’ll continue to exercise your EAP as needed. The recovery period from a disaster can be prolonged.
Anticipating and preparing for scenarios is the motivation behind developing emergency action plans. It may be prudent to bring in an expert during the early assessment and planning phases to help your company navigate the EAP process.