We’d like to take the opportunity this week to give our support to those who have been impacted by the fires in New Mexico. Therefore, the article for this week is dedicated to working with employees who have been impacted by disasters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have a program called “Ready” to help organizations prepare an emergency program. The “Ready” site helps organizations identify their risks, develop a plan, and allows them to take action. The site provides links to sample plans for emergency resources, crisis communication, business continuity, and for information technology disaster recovery. The site not only covers planning but includes implementation, program administration, incident management, training, testing and exercises, and employee assistance.
In relation to personnel, Ready Business recommends ensuring all contact and emergency contact information is updated in your system so that updates may be sent to staff using that information. Employers should also have a central point of contact for questions such as a call center. Employees who are assigned to the call center should be trained in providing information as outlined in your communication plan. As disasters can change pre-planned communications, call center personnel will need to be apprised of any updates.
Ready also recommends that the organization has a plan to locate employees to assess the human impact and to help the organization plan appropriate assistance. Assistance can include providing access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and providing information on other mental health providers in the community. Companies may create their own assistance centers for additional support or an organization may refer employees to an assistance center in the community. HR will want to consider employee’s short-term needs moving forward such as wage and benefits assistance and communicate these programs to staff.
In addition to the Ready Website, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), has an excellent resource in its toolkit that you may consider using.
Remember, as an HR representative, you are in a unique position to assist the organization when dealing with a disaster. If you do not have a dedicated HR representative, obtaining assistance through outsourcing during an emergency may be an option you would like to consider. If you are in need of additional HR support for a period of time, consider reaching out to Southwestern HR Consulting (SWHRC).
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP