Increasingly, as business owners realize that an effective business continuity plan is a must for the long term viability of their enterprise, companies are taking the appropriate steps to develop and implement a plan of their own. While the plans produced may be comprehensive, well constructed and suited to the company’s unique situation, the unfortunate reality is that, when push comes to shove, often times these plans can prove ineffective in the hour of need.

The reason for this is simple. Many business continuity plans ignore the human element. A plan that has delegated specific tasks to various employees will certainly fail if said employees are unavailable to put it in motion. One of the most common causes of employee unavailability occurs when they are not prepared to deal with an unexpected event at home. Such events, whether manmade or natural, do not occur in a vacuum. If your business is suffering from a city wide power outage or the fallout from a flood, it is likely that many employees will be dealing with the situation in their own households. Just as failure to render services as usual can result in loss of revenue, reputation, and customer loyalty can lead to overwhelming stress for an employer, dysfunction in the household can lead to stress for the employee. No matter how responsible, punctual, hardworking and dedicated you may feel an employee is, they will place the well being of themselves and their families above the company's bottom line. If they are unprepared to deal with critical events at home, how can they be expected to deal with such events at work?

One simple, effective way to combat this is by implementing a prep-at-home program at work, in order to ensure that employees are personally prepared for a crisis. By providing employees with the knowledge and tools they require, not only will you help them alleviate stress and improve effectiveness during critical moments, but you will alleviate stress of your own.  A cohesive, company wide planning effort across the entire organization can drastically improve a company’s recoverability odds. 

Before doing this, however, it is important that business owners and those in management positions ensure that they are prepared in their own homes and can be made accessible for employees.

Whether preparing at home or at work, communication is key. Ideally, all employees should be required to provide emergency contact numbers at the office. It is also advisable that they are encouraged to implement a similar strategy at home, with contact information for family members, neighbors, care providers, doctors, insurance, and so on easily accessible. Though it is wise in this day and age to include email addresses and/or social media contact information readily available, it is important that a business continuity plan and/or a home preparedness plan factors in the possibility that internet service and/or power may be cut during critical moments and to adjust accordingly. One common error in business continuity planning is the assumption that, because of the internet, remote work will be possible when problems arise on site. This is unfortunately not always the case.

Most workplaces have evacuation plans and designated meeting places in the case of an emergency and incorporating this into the home is a wise decision. Employees should be encouraged to establish an emergency meeting point for their families, as well as a backup location in case the first is unavailable, and a third location outside of the municipality in the event of a full evacuation.

As anyone involved in business continuity planning or disaster recovery is undoubtedly aware, there are thousands of unexpected events that can occur and thousands of safeguards and protective measures that can be put in place to minimize the impact. From designating alternate routes for the commute to encouraging employees to consult with free internet resources (such as a city website or the Red Cross) it is beneficial to have an informed and involved workforce. 

No two companies are alike, and it is important to ensure that your business continuity plan and emergency preparedness are suited to your specific needs. At any rate, getting ahead of the curve and dealing with the next crisis before it occurs is sound business practice.  

Having trouble implementing a comprehensive business continuity plan on your own? Contact _________ today to discuss your options with one of our industry leading business continuity specialists.