For some, like those in the hurricane belt or high-risk flooding areas, natural disasters are part and parcel of life; for others, though, a natural disaster is down near the very bottom of concerns when it comes to operating a business. In both of these cases, it is important to remember that when disaster hits, there are plenty of options to take into account to stop it being a disaster for your business. On the topic of the catastrophic, here are four thought-through strategies for businesses that might feel that constructing one or two contingency plans is a good idea for the future.
Prepare Your Public Response
To be classed a natural disaster – the sort that makes the news, or the sort that are more local yet still irritating or destructive – it’s likely that some serious damage, either economically or on a human level, has been done. Your immediate thoughts when it comes to publicly responding to a natural phenomenon harming your area should be in addressing the disaster itself: expressing sympathy with victims and solidarity with those who are struggling on in the face of adversity. This should appear on your website as well as all your social media channels and, if you feel you’re a large or influential enough company, then drafting a press release for local and national news will put your message on the top of the pile.
Your secondary response should consider how your business can mitigate damage, enhance its reputation, or just keep its doors open in difficult times. Ensure your customers and clients are fully tuned-in to your working capacity, which you can do again by releasing regular statements and updates. If you’re a company that can in any way help those in need, you can achieve a wonderful combination of community support and positive publicity by lending a helping hand to relief efforts. A helping hand may be in the form of donations, staff volunteering, or if you happen to have the product, a gift of an inflatable boat, tent, food supplies or fuel.
Consider Your Operating Necessities
Everything from power to transport, client location to internet connection should come into your consideration when it comes to powering on in your company through the aftermath of a catastrophic storm, flood or quake. The best-laid plans take a sweeping view of the land and establish several levels of response that cater to levels of local damage that might strike your business with different challenges.
One of the most-likely repercussions of environmental disasters, even the smaller and less destructive ones, is the temporary or long-term loss of power. Most larger buildings possess a generator, but this runs on fuel, the supply of which is finite and will be burned through quickly when powering an office or workplace. There’s plenty of reasons why your office might be left without power for a prolonged period, so establishing contact with an emergency fuel service before any trouble brews is a fantastic option for those who are looking to continue to operate in the face of the disaster.
Communicate Well With Staff
This is paramount to staff who might otherwise feel exploited and stricken by disasters as and when they strike. In the immediate aftermath of such events, bring your staff together, if possible, to discuss with them the options you feel you have open to you and ask them whether they believe that they can continue to work. If it’s not possible to get everyone to the office, you can send an email to all your employees laying out the land for the next few days or weeks. They’ll appreciate your taking them into account and keeping them up to date. In the immediate term, establishing this dialogue has its own benefits, in any case.
A nuanced response when it comes to how you deal with staff is to take an individual perspective, recognizing the unique challenges each employee faces in coming in to work. If the disaster is likely to have secondary effects that might cause additional harm, then you need to make different considerations, most likely asking your staff to stay at home, or in a safe place, to guarantee they will not come to harm. Don’t add a staff mutiny or a PR disaster to a natural one: be thoughtful, caring, and immediate in your instruction and consideration of staff.
Coordinate With Local Leaders
Other than your internal response and your public response, if you’re a member of a small community or a big member of a larger one, your voice is likely to be valued in a conversation concerning how to work together to lift the local economy out of the ashes. Cities with these private and public sector links that bond together the fates of the community tend to build something wonderful from the wreckage of a disaster. Each event requires a unique response, but for many in the area of devastation, returning to ‘business as usual’ is paramount to avoiding economic decay.
In this sense, then, be prepared by building good relationships will all your important local actors, such as the emergency services as well as local governing offices and public bodies. In the event of a catastrophe, they’ll be the ones working out the best response to the situation at hand, and if you value your company, you’ll want your voice heard in that conversation. Finally, local, state and national leader will also issue relief funding and support to damaged businesses, so it’s vital you coordinate with these services to mitigate any damage to the workings and profits of your company.
It might feel odd planning for a catastrophic scenario, especially if that’s something you have ever only experienced on the news, through a TV screen. Yet, being pragmatic about the risks that all businesses face, independent of industry-specific issues, will allow your organization to dodge any major damage that might occur to your company finances. This list has outlined four of those most pressing steps you can take before and in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, so you, your staff, and your business are in the best possible position to come out as unscathed as possible.