A wide scale, long-duration business interruption will force many changes in the way your organization operates. Social Impact Planning is the discipline that deals with this area of Operational Resiliency. Are your policies and procedures up to the challenge? Now is the time to think about this issue, not when you are in the middle of an emotionally charged situation suffering from poor communications and unreliable information.
People are an organization’s most important asset. During a crisis, some employees may be asked to make sacrifices on behalf of the firm. Handled correctly, a crisis is an opportunity to build long-term loyalty and goodwill with these employees. The key is to follow clear, respectful, and considerate policies that show a concern for the individual, their extended family, and their financial situation.
Organized into six areas, these are a few of the policy questions that you may have to face in the event of a disaster. How prepared is your firm to answer these questions?
Employee Relations and Communications
- In the event of a disaster, who is responsible for communicating with the employees?
- Are they the same individuals who will communicate an “all-clear” message?
- If a disaster is declared, how will employees be notified?
- Have employees been briefed on this disaster recovery procedure within the past year?
- Has this procedure been tested for compliance with organization policies within the past 12 months?
- Do employees know how to respond to crisis communication inquiries from the media?
- How will employees communicate with the firm during a crisis?
Employee Compensation Policies
- In the event of a widespread disaster, how will payroll be handled?
- If banks are closed, will the organization provide payroll-cashing services?
- What is the firm’s business continuity policy on cash advances, check cashing, and employee loans?
- If relocated to remote location(s), will employees be given a stipend?
- During a shutdown, can employees draw on their sick and vacation time without restriction?
- Will employees continue to earn vacation and sick time during a crisis?
Employment Continuity Policies
- If the firm is forced to shut down temporarily, will employees continued to be paid?
- How will contractors be treated if there is a shutdown?
- Will “essential workers” be expected to work overtime during the crisis?
- How would a long-term crisis affect scheduled vacations, sick leave, maternity leave, and sabbaticals?
- Will “exempt” employees be compensated for overtime during a prolonged crisis?
Employee Relocation Policies
- If employees are asked to commute to a different location, will they be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses?
- If employees are asked to relocate to a remote location, who is responsible for making travel and lodging arrangements?
Employee Support Programs
- Will the firm provide dependant care support if schools and other institutions are shut down?
- If relocated, may employees bring their families?
- If relocated will any non-work related expense for families be covered?
- Is the firm prepared to provide healthcare coverage in remote locations?
- If some employees are not immediately available to move, will they continue to be paid?
- Are arrangements in place to deal with a reduction in public services and security?
Now is the time to establish a reputation as a concerned organization interested in the welfare of its employees. By publishing the firm’s disaster recovery plans and business continuity policies and openly discussing the topic, management gives employees confidence in the ability of the organization to respond decisively to a disaster.
Letting everyone know what is expected of them and what they can expect of the organization helps employees prepare psychologically for the pressures they will face when dealing with a crisis. Clear, concise, and consistently applied governance and human resource policies are one of the keys to successfully recovering from any disaster.
Several professional associations provide information and conduct research on the topic of social impact planning. We urge our clients to join one or more of these professional societies and to invest time in learning about this important area of Operational Resiliency Planning.
For more information on this subject, other business continuity topics or business continuity policies please write to: