As the owner, manager, or a representative of your organization, you have taken some steps to prepare your business for an emergency. You have joined the American Red Cross Ready Rating® Program and may have even created have an Emergency Action Plan using the Emergency Action Template Generator. But is the rest of your organization ready? Training staff for the unexpected can be critical to making sure your business is truly prepared.
Building awareness among your employees can get you started. Hang a poster which contains critical information such as an evacuation plan in the workspace or break room. Share your Emergency Action Plan during staff meetings and make sure critical staff members have access to it.
Take 10 to 15 minutes to ask your staff the right questions (Do you know where the Emergency Action Plan and contact list are? What would you do if...?). Staff need to understand if a certain time of year is critical to your business or community: end-of-year, holiday season or tax time; seasonal weather risks like hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, or flooding. Most importantly, make sure that each staff member knows his/her role in a crisis.
Beyond building awareness, the best training is experiential so practice what you can. Rehearse evacuation or shelter-in-place plans. If your Emergency Action Plan anticipates employees working from home, have them do so occasionally to see how it works.
A great way to engage employees is to have them participate in a scenario discussion. Select a particular event like a hurricane or winter storm. Talk about the resulting impacts to your business, actions that you and your team will take, and who you need to communicate with. The fact sheets in the Resource Center on ReadyRating.org can help get you started.
If you want to do more, test your Emergency Action Plan. Testing your plan is the best way to make sure your business is prepared. A test involves talking through or executing your plan during a simulated event. It trains your staff on what to do in a crisis by actually doing it. A test also provides an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan and identify any gaps.
Whether building awareness or testing preparedness with your staff, encourage them to also have a plan for their home and families. You and your staff are encouraged to use ReadyRating.org for information on preparedness, emergency kits and other resources mentioned in this article. The American Red Cross also offers the Emergency App and other free emergency preparedness applications for mobile devices. Your staff will appreciate your care and concern and you will be better able to support each other when the unexpected occurs.