When Bad Things Happen in the Workplace
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, 61% of all small businesses do not have a contingency plan when it comes to disaster recovery. Is your company prepared?
That’s a question HR must ask regularly, Dr. Edward M. Goldberg, manager of business continuity and disaster recovery for Northeast Utilities, told attendees at CBIA’s recent Midyear HR Update. He identified two plans every company needs to protect its employees and operations:
- Business continuity: Addresses your company’s ability to perform critical business processes during and after a disaster
- Disaster recovery: Addresses IT recovery and data restoration
Because crises like extreme weather, workplace violence, and data breaches can occur anytime, Goldberg urged attendees to keep their plans current.
“They’re living documents that have to be maintained and that’s an ongoing process,” Goldberg said. “You have to keep them up to date.”
HR’s Role in an Emergency
So what are HR’s responsibilities when it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity: before, during, and after a crisis? According to Goldberg, it’s your job to:
- Be prepared. HR can’t perform if it’s affected by an emergency.
- Join your company’s incident response team. Integrate your plans with those of other departments. Establish clear policies and address unusual situations like pandemics.
- Educate and inform. Communicate to your employees and make sure they feel safe at work.
- Work with Communications. Control information, inform stakeholders, and secure an experienced crisis manager.
- Account for all personnel. Identify victims, both injured and deceased.
- Assist with communications to families. Identify any immediate and long-term needs.
- Make sure people are available for work. Your systems can’t operate without them.
- Work with Legal and Security. Examine potential evidence, building access, etc.
- Work with IT. Retrieve HR data and stop any auto-destruct programs.
A Place to Start
One attendee acknowledged that Goldberg’s valuable insights might motivate the unprepared to begin the planning process.
“I don’t think a lot of people have a business plan,” said Karen McAndrew, director of human resources for GHP in West Haven. “It’s important to have one. So just to know where to get started, that’s important.”
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