When you hear disaster preparedness, tornadoes, floods or fires may come to mind, but disasters come in many forms. It could be a chemical spill, a blackout or a workplace violence situation. One thing is certain, these events typically happen without warning and can be challenging for businesses. A plan for the unexpected helps employers, employees and customers know how to react.
At Axcet HR Solutions, our full time Health and Safety Consultant, Randy Clayton, spends 90 percent of his time on site with clients training and helping them in event preparedness and accident avoidance. Clayton boasts over 15 years industry experience. In addition, Axcet HR Solutions has been recognized by OSHA eight times with the VPP Star of Excellence award for our commitment to the highest safety standards.
Unfortunately, most businesses do not have a “game plan” in their employee handbook for these worst case scenarios. As a business owner, especially a small business owner, is your workplace ready?
How Business Owners and HR Departments Can Prepare for Disasters
- Safeguard HR Documents.
The IRS recommends business owners take a few simple steps to protect documents in the event of a disaster. First, safeguard tax forms and other electronic records. Next, take advantage of electronic recordkeeping, such as for banking information. Lastly, for paper documents, such as W-2s and tax returns, scan them into your computer and save them in an electronic format. Understanding how these documents are stored and can be accessed off-site is crucial.
Axcet HR Solutions is unique among HR service providers. We store all employee records “on premises” to avoid the risks of hacking or corruption in the cloud. That said, our clients have peace of mind knowing even if a disaster occurred at our physical headquarters, we wouldn’t lose a beat. We also have everything at our fingertips digitally. Our advanced recovery plan includes additional offices, remote servers and continuously backed up data allowing us to continue with our business and yours without interruption. All of our clients' employee pay stubs, payroll history and pay records are kept online and are accessible 24/7 through our Instant Axcet portal.
- Include a Disaster Preparedness Plan in Your Employee Handbook.
Develop policies and procedures to protect your employees and clearly communicate them to team members. Training sessions will provide additional benefit and help them to feel more confident. While you may not be able to include plans for all possible scenarios, a few broad ones will prove to be very helpful. Such as one for evacuating the building, a lockdown situation and total loss of the physical workplace. Determine who will be in charge and what their roles will be in advance and include it in your handbook. The midst of a disaster is not the time to roll out your plan, so including it as part of your organization’s onboarding is a good idea.
- Maintain Accurate Information and Regularly Review HR Policies
Takes steps to regularly update employees’ contact information, including emergency contact information. In addition to employee contact information, phone numbers and email addresses for clients, insurance companies/agents and local emergency response teams should also be accessible electronically and regularly updated. Lastly, business owners should understand compliance issues that come with disasters, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These events can cause injuries and stress and knowing the law is a must.
Our human resources consultants are committed to ensuring our clients’ records are updated year-round. Just one more reason businesses who partner with us for all of their HR needs experience added peace of mind.
- Have a Business Continuity Plan.
It is vital to keep your business running if possible. By having different contingency plans in place for various scenarios helps to keep things running as normal and smoothly as they can.
Risk of Not Having a Disaster Preparedness Plan
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 40 percent of businesses affected by a disaster never reopen. Further, without a disaster preparedness plan, it may mean negligence on your behalf which equates to liability and possible lawsuits. As a business owner, you also have a moral obligation to protect your employees and customers.
While a disaster plan may not be at the top of your lengthy “to-do” list, it will go a long way in getting your business back up and running in the event of a disaster. For more information on how to plan for workplace emergencies and evacuations, be sure to review this guide by OSHA.
Axcet HR Solutions is a full-service Professional Employer Organization headquartered in and serving the Greater Kansas City Metro area. We provide professional HR services, employee benefits, payroll, safety and workers' compensation services to small- to mid-sized businesses.