With events such as the natural disaster in Japan, the unrest in Libya and Egypt, and the recent tornadoes sweeping the southern U.S., crisis management and disaster recovery are on everyone's minds. Having a disaster recovery or crisis plan in your workplace and knowing how to respond to employees can minimize the likelihood of lost work time, reduce stress-related disability claims, and help your business get back on track as quickly as possible.  

Manager Makeover: Tips for responding when disaster strikes

With events such as the natural disaster in Japan, the unrest in Libya and Egypt, and the recent tornadoes sweeping the southern U.S., crisis management and disaster recovery are on everyone's minds. Having a disaster recovery or crisis plan in your workplace and knowing how to respond to employees can minimize the likelihood of lost work time, reduce stress-related disability claims, and help your business get back on track as quickly as possible. 

How to respond

When a disaster impacts your employees, the primary concern is to provide safety, support and stability. Ceridian offers the following guidance when responding to such an event: 

  • Acknowledge that this may be a difficult time, especially for employees that experienced a direct loss. Check in with your staff and don't simply assume everyone is okay.
  • Provide contact information and resources in alignment with your organization's policies. An employee who is dealing with a loss or who was directly affected by a natural disaster may have urgent questions about pay, benefits, insurance, medical leave, relocation, and other issues, so being able to quickly respond with information will reduce anxiety.
  • Contact your employee assistance program (EAP) or leverage Critical Incident Management Services to offer additional assistance. Some employees impacted by a disaster may need more support than a manager can offer. Consult with an EAP counselor to discuss ways to respond to the crisis, given the specifics of the incident and your organization. In some cases, you may want to have an onsite Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) conducted by crisis response specialists.
  • Let employees know you will keep them informed as accurate information becomes available. Announce the time and location of any future events such as management briefings, onsite counseling debriefings, funeral arrangements and so on.
  • Support employees by pitching in to help and encouraging other team members to do the same. Make sure employees have the resources, tools and information to get through any of the disruption caused by the disaster.
  • Help expatriate employees. If disaster strikes abroad in a location where you have employees on international assignments, try to get in touch with them immediately. Have your employees contact the U.S. embassy, consulate office, or American Red Cross as soon as possible. Make sure to stay in touch with your employees and encourage them to stay in constant contact with their families.