From COVID-19 to Hurricane Laura, crises come in all forms and can have adverse effects on businesses. To better prepare and recover from such crises, it is vital for businesses to develop a business continuity plan. Business continuity plans serve to create a prevention and recovery system, as well as protect employees and assets should a crisis occur. In lieu of September being National Preparedness Month, here are some tips for developing a business continuity plan for crises.
A leading insurance provider recently reported 48% of small businesses do not have a business continuity plan and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approximates 40% of businesses do not re-open after a natural disaster. The biggest impact natural disasters have on businesses are operational and economic. The best defense for businesses in a natural disaster crisis is preparation.
To prepare, consider the following:
- Structure, policies, procedures, and individuals necessary for continued operation should a disruption (i.e., natural disaster) occur.
- Identify risks, the impact of such risks should they not be mitigated, and review insurance policies to completely comprehend coverage, deductibles, and limitations (i.e., some insurance does not cover flood or earthquake damages).
- Assign key individuals critical to business operations who will activate the crisis management plan.
- Establish back-up protocols for records not easily reproduced, as well as communication processes for all necessary contacts (i.e., employees, stakeholders, clients, etc.).
FEMA and the Ready Campaign have promoted National Preparedness Month annually. To build on the tips above, they also recommend building a survival kit, which includes:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days)
- Nonperishable food (for a minimum of three days), can opener (for canned food)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio for weather updates
- First-aid kit, including over-the-counter medications (i.e., for cold and flu)
- Extra batteries
- Hand wipes, garbage bags, and plastic ties
- Cellphone chargers and back-up batteries
- Miscellaneous items, such as pet food, baby supplies, and important documents
As most businesses have recognized in the wake of COVID-19 is the integral role business continuity plans play in recovery. Like most crises, public health crises (i.e., COVID-19) oftentimes occur without notice leaving businesses little to no time to prepare. Learn from past public health crises to modify your current or develop a business continuity plan.
This should include:
- Frequent updates from government and public health agencies regarding best practices, changing legislation, and other pertinent information
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other agency regulations dictating workplace safety and sanitation policies and procedures
- Review of departmental preparedness, i.e., proper HR staffing to address flood of employee questions and concerns, and the communications team has templates ready for such crises.
In today’s generation, social injustice, civil rights, and discrimination issues are becoming more prominent in the workplace. As a result, workplace conflict, workplace disruptions, and social unrest may impact your business.
To prepare for social unrest crises, businesses should consider:
- Modify workplace policies to establish a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace
- Establish business expectations for employee behavior and conduct to deter workplace politics and conflict
- Ensure employees are informed of employee handbook policies and procedures, which should address discrimination, harassment, and other behavior not tolerated in the workplace
- Check with your HR and legal departments to safeguard employees’ rights and overall well-being, as well as promptly address any employee-related issues that may arise
- Review commercial insurance policies, i.e., check if vandalism and malicious mischief coverage is available
If you’re not sure the best strategy or how to incorporate multi-level business continuity plans for various types of crises, reach out to Harbor America. Our safety and risk management specialists offer claims management, customized safety plans, online training manuals, and monthly legal HR compliance updates to ensure adequate workplace safety is achieved for businesses of all sizes and industries.