July 22, 2024

In advance of hurricane seasons, organizations need to take action to prepare for the potential impact of a hurricane or tropical storm on their people and their business. It’s critical for businesses to closely review their current corporate-level crisis management, crisis communications, emergency response, and business continuity plans and make the necessary updates to improve their resilience strategy.

It is also imperative that you are prepared to activate these plans appropriately to help your workforce and business before, during, and after a crisis.

7 critical action areas

  1. Crisis management: Implement your crisis management plan and activate the crisis management team quickly and efficiently. This can allow you to get an early understanding of the potential impacts of a hurricane or tropical storm on your people, operations, property, and infrastructure. It can also help you make policy/strategy decisions to address and manage potential impacts — for example, whether to allow employees to take paid time off and/or shift operations to other locations, if possible.
  2. Emergency response: Take steps to protect your people and physical assets. This will be crucial if your employees and properties are close to storm-affected areas. Direct your people to communications by local authorities and encourage them to heed their direction, such as to evacuate, shelter in place, or move to higher ground. Accounting for all employees and protecting property and assets need to be prioritized. Be prepared to provide frequent updates to senior executives and response teams. Organizations also should make accommodations for those employees in impacted areas who may need time off work to look after themselves and their families both during and following a storm.
  3. Humanitarian assistance: Prepare to provide employees and their families with the necessary humanitarian assistance after a storm. This should include physical, social, emotional, and financial help. Aside from professional counseling and support services, be ready to provide personalized assistance — for example, providing employees with needed basic supplies or inviting insurance representatives to discuss filing claims. It’s important to have clear information about the assistance available to employees and provide links to external resources that they should be accessing.
  4. Business continuity: Your plans should cover the management and logistical process for continuing or resuming and recovering interrupted critical business functions. Support should be coordinated between corporate headquarters and local work or operating sites. You may need to consider shifting operations to locations outside of the impacted area. Identify any critical suppliers affected by the storm and work to identify alternate suppliers outside the affected region that can support your recovery and continued operations. Keep in mind that already stretched supply chains and inflationary pricing may be exacerbated by a major disaster and make it difficult to secure supplies, at a reasonable cost, critical for your recovery.
  5. Crisis communication: Keep everyone informed about what is happening and your efforts to resume operations. Make sure you have updated contact lists for your employees, as well as their addresses, so you can send location-specific communications, when appropriate. Ensure that employees and key external stakeholders are aware of your response efforts. Make sure you have multiple tools in your communications toolbox in the event that one or more modes of communication are unavailable due to a storm’s impacts.
  6. Information technology/disaster recovery: Focus on getting networks, applications, and data sources up and running to assist you through the recovery process. This will help support the continuity of operations, including facilitating communication with impacted employees or those working remotely.
  7. Return to work: Consistent communication of response efforts to your employees and other key stakeholders is critical. Regularly update employees on when you plan to reopen sites, consider returning in prioritized shifts, and facilitate two-way communication to determine when your people can return to work. Keep in mind that power and internet outages could affect employees working remotely.

Recovering from a hurricane takes time and effort. But taking these steps can better position your organization to limit the effects of a storm and more quickly resume normal operations. Once this crisis is over, you can apply lessons learned to bolster your response plans and minimize the impact of future disasters.

For more information, check out our Hurricane Resource Center or get in touch with our specialists.


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