More than half of the small businesses profiled in a recent study by Symantec did not have a disaster preparedness plan in place. Without plans for evacuation, employees won’t know where to go when a crisis strikes and pandemonium can quickly ensue. Taking the time to create even a cursory preparedness plan is worth its weight in safety.
Planning for a disaster is not always easy, and employees at small businesses often wear many hats – so it can be a challenge to find the time. Some companies need to be struck with an extended power outage or flood to realize the necessity of disaster preparedness planning.
The first priority for most companies is backing up their computer and IT networks, but the human side of disaster planning is equally important.
Evacuation plans will save lives, even for those businesses with a handful of employees. If employees don’t know where the exits are and a fire strikes, an employee could wind up in a dangerous situation that could easily have been avoided.
What is your company’s disaster plan? A good plan will have the following components:
- Communication and coordination. Does your company have a plan for who will communicate to internal and external publics? How will employees know what to do?
- Emergency responses should be practiced and drilled, so that when lightning strikes, everyone knows how to proceed.
- Supplies like water, blankets and high energy snacks should be tucked away where employees can reach them in the event of extended emergency situations.
- Evacuation should be orderly and rehearsed. Even a small company can identify all of the exits and designate how people should leave in the event of a disaster.
- Another area that small businesses struggle with is bench strength in key positions. Cross-training staff to fill in different roles is always a good idea and also helps to grow employee knowledge and loyalty.
Another mistake small companies can make is to put off even a small plan; instead waiting until they have the time to produce the perfect plan. Even a small plan that is well-executed – like taking five minutes at a staff meeting to make sure everyone knows where all of the exits are – is better than no plan at all.
Just like wearing a helmet before a bicycle crash, we doubt you are ever going to say, “I wish we hadn’t spent time creating that preparedness plan.” When the day arrives that it’s needed, you will always feel good that a plan is in place.