Most executives think they have every base covered in the event an emergency strikes. Many, however, have no firsthand experience of disaster and actually lack preparedness expertise.
Even people familiar with events harmful to their businesses experience the “forgetting the pain” phenomenon. Their harshest memories of the occurrence eventually fade. and the pain dulls through the passage of time.
Lately, though, business leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the need to prepare for an emergency or any operational disruption. The key to preparedness is to first understand the risks that can affect a business and use technology to bolster the weaknesses.
Disasters are unpredictable, unavoidable, and take many forms. Consider that a business can be affected by a weather-related event, power outage, or other abnormality that causes disruption, but proper preparation mitigates that impact, including injuries, damage, and operational downtime, despite the unpredictability.
The need for preparation
A company’s response to a disaster establishes its credibility and demonstrates its resilience. Bouncing back from disaster is incredibly difficult, as evidenced by the estimated 50% of companies that close their doors after an extreme event.
There are common mistakes company leaders make when they aren’t prepared for a disaster: not taking the event seriously, responding too late or simply not knowing what to do. This is especially true of small and medium-sized businesses, which are most likely to experience major financial losses.
Disasters cost businesses of all sizes thousands of dollars every year. For example, a 30-minute power outage could cost around $15,000. Anticipating that and other setbacks can lighten a leader’s financial burden when the unexpected hits.
How to answer when catastrophe calls
Executives must be fully invested in any disaster-preparedness efforts; otherwise, something is destined to fall through the cracks. Executive buy-in allows the company to access the necessary resources to create a proper plan prior to the disaster.
Once higher-ups are involved, they then need to set up the whole team for success during an emergency. Here are three strategies:
1. Solidify your contingency plan. Nobody can completely prepare for what’s unknown, but you can create a business continuity plan to help you stay one step ahead. What’s most important is having systems in place to get your organization back to normal operations as soon after a disaster as possible.
This takes time, effort and money. Make the plan a successful one with organizational vision and an investment from members of the executive team.
2. Show employees your playbook. Executives should always help employees understand the risks that could affect the business and how to keep things going when the unexpected occurs. Furthermore, include provisions for secondary and tertiary disaster into your preparations.
To increase your company’s transparency, give staff remote access to in-office systems. That way, if a disaster descends upon your business, people can remain operational in certain instances, even from afar.
3. Don’t be afraid of experts. Base any information on solid reports provided by experts. Having a seasoned mind around will also help answer questions, explain processes and identity unknown variables.
For example, third-party experts or consultants in business continuity and preparedness can provide detailed information that’s tailored to a specific business and its locations.This would provide quality insight and ensure gaps are filled and nothing is overlooked on the way to preventing injuries, mitigating damage, and keeping the business running.
When it comes to a potential disaster, it’s always best to overprepare. In the long run, this will save you time and money by get things running again in a reasonable amount of time. And, most importantly, being overprepared protects your business’s long-term prospects.
StormGeo senior meteorologist Dave Gorham is a former U.S. Air Force meteorologist. Gorham then worked as a meteorologist for an NBC affiliate in North Texas and at Houston’s KUHF-FM radio station. He then moved on to Universal Weather and Aviation, ImpactWeather and, finally, StormGeo.
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