Last year, the U.S. experienced natural disaster damages valued over $52 billion, sixty-one active shooter incidents and one million Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports of cybercrime. While a disaster is difficult to prevent, businesses can arm themselves with plans to lessen the impact.
A well-defined disaster response team can help maintain business operations and quickly resolve disruptions such as:
- Natural disasters — hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes, ice
- Information technology disasters — computer or network failures
- Health disasters: ranging from epidemics to environmental catastrophes
- Criminal disasters: assault, hostage situations, bomb threats & cybercrimes
- Personal disasters: the sudden illness or death of a key staff member or business owner
The Roles & Responsibilities of a Disaster Response Team
A disaster response team begins with your executive leadership as they are instrumental to select the right employees to drive and coordinate all activities of the team and keep the focus on minimizing damage and a quick return to operations.
Often the technicalities of your disaster response plan will require administrative support for the entire organization. They may have responsibilities to set up remote offices and operations, designate emergency resources to the right departments or collaborate with external vendors to keep operations running smoothly.
Human Resources (HR)
Any kind of crisis can cause enormous amounts of stress for your employees. The primary focus of your HR team during this time is to address the immediate needs of your staff, including:
- Encourage employees to utilize an employee assistance program (EAP) to help with mental health counseling and stress management.
- Provide employees with crisis response information (e.g., flood health risks, disinfecting directives).
- Offer employees direct assistance from the business’ emergency action plan and collaborate with staff to provide alternate working conditions.
- Work with employees to create a flexible work schedule that allows them to take care of personal issues, resulting from the disaster.
- Strive to promote employee retention and the company’s concern for their welfare.
- Process insurance claims and manage medical coverage needs.
- Consider how to process payroll during a disaster and communicate with your payroll provider if power were to go down.
- Recruit temporary workers and laborers, as necessary.
Marketing & Communications Disaster Response
Your marketing and communications teams will lead the efforts to message and communicate to all internal and external audiences. They should proactively create messages based on disasters for your business. They will develop messages to multiple audiences, such as:
- Inform employees of the conditions of their employment.
- Notify partners and vendors of service interruptions.
- Communicate to media
- Provide customers with an accurate, timely and apologetic message.
Facilities Disaster Response
It’s vital that your facility management personnel are an integral part of the disaster response team. They should cover four key issues:
- Critical Building Systems: Governmental regulations and standards address the minimum basic requirements necessary for communication, emergency power, water, fire protection, fuel storage, HVAC and lighting systems. This also covers the safety of facility employees, residents and visitors.
- Building Occupants: Facilities should maintain a comprehensive list of all regular building occupants. Should a disaster occur, facilities can provide contact information (e.g., cell phone number, email) to reach occupants and verify their safety.
- Equipment & Property: A complete list of all equipment and other property should be available to quickly assess what items are damaged and need repair or replacement. This will be helpful to provide to your broker if filing a claim.
- Emergency Response Checklist: It should include every action the facilities team needs to conduct following the emergency. Display the facility’s emergency checklist in an easily accessible area.
Information Technology (IT) Disaster Response
Information technology systems require hardware, software, data and connectivity. Priorities should be consistent with the urgency of business functions and processes recovery. Without one component of the system, the network may not function. Therefore, recovery strategies should anticipate the loss of one or more of the following components:
- Computer room environment (e.g., secure/climate-controlled computer room, backup power supply)
- Hardware (e.g., networks, servers, computers, wireless devices, peripherals)
- Connectivity to a service provider (e.g., fiber, cable, wireless)
- Software applications (e.g., electronic data interchange, electronic mail, enterprise resource management, office productivity)
- Data & restoration
We’re Here to Help with Disaster Recovery
Without a plan, your company may face lawsuits from clients, distributors or employees claiming negligence. A disaster response team’s objective is to lower a disastrous event’s impact to your business and restore operations quickly. If you have questions about disaster preparation, recovery or your insurance coverage, connect with a member of our team.