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Raising Awareness and Bridging the Gap between Disaster Preparedness at Work and Home

By Kathy Lee Patterson and Hannah Zimmerman, Independence Blue Cross:

Raising Business Continuity awareness within your organization is a crucial part of your program’s success. However, before you begin, you will want to be confident that certain initiatives are achieved before you go public with your work.

The short list of necessary initiatives is as follows:

  • Executive Buy-in for your Business Continuity Program and Support for an awareness program
  • Team of core leaders to respond in the event of a disaster – Incident Response Team
  • BC Plans for your organization and departments
  • Training Program for key leaders and employees
  • Crisis plan with escalation procedures for Incident Response Team
  • Documentation to support your Regulatory Compliance initiatives

Since you will be teaching how to respond to a disaster, you want to make certain that your organization’s escalation procedures have been documented and vetted with your leadership team and trained with your Incident Response Team.

It is important that your employees know that you have emergency response procedures and know what to do when they receive notifications. Testing your notification is a good method for validating that your employees are receiving the notices you are sending.

Since your employees are your most important asset, it is important that they understand what is expected of them when your organization is impacted by a disaster. Help your employees understand “why” preparation is so important.   Here are some initiatives that you may want to consider:

  • Introduction of BC at your Company’s Orientation for new employees
  • Develop a BC website with information about your program and how to prepare at home
  • Conduct periodic Lunch and Learns for employees
  • Create a handout or brochure with information for employees to prepare at home that can be distributed at any of your planned training
  • Program information included in Mandatory Training across your organization
  • Videos specific to different audiences within your Company

As the most important asset to your company, making sure that employees are not only prepared at work for Disaster, but also at home makes recovery from a disaster better for everyone. It is important to make employees understand that disasters can happen at any moment and their family may not all be  together when it does. Provide information on which types of disasters can happen to your area and how they could keep in touch and reconnect with their family when separated. Discussing the importance with employees on having a Home Kit of  supplies can make the impact of a disaster easier to recovery from for your employees and get them back to work and continuing the business functions faster. We recommend that employees compile a kit of supplies including water, first aid kit, copies of licenses, flash light and batteries, cell phone chargers, cash, medical needs, etc. so that they can either stay put or grab and run if they need to evacuate.

Making training fun is the best way to get employees excited to learn more about your BC Program. During our Lunch and Learns, we often include a game such as Business Continuity Jeopardy. We customize the topics to fit the audience.  We always include some basic disaster facts as well as specific preparation topics for each group.

About the authors: Kathy Lee Patterson, CBCP, PMP, is the Business Continuity Manager for Independence Blue Cross charged with building a comprehensive Business Continuity Program for the organization. She has specialized in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery for more than 18 years. Hannah Zimmerman, CBCP, is a Sr. Business Continuity Analyst with Independence Blue Cross and works with Patterson to build and maintain IBC’s Business Continuity Program.

 

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