For many of us in the Caribbean, we dread the months of June through November that represent hurricane season. We watch the tropical activity with bated breath, feeling guiltily relieved when the storm does not pass our way. Unfortunately, it usually means it will directly impact one of our island neighbours. While some seasons are thankfully uneventful, others can devastate lives, families, workplaces, and nations.
What is HR’s role in preparing for and recovering from the disaster of a hurricane?
1. Assist with the preparation of a hurricane preparedness manual that should include what-to-do checklists, securing company facilities, property and information, damage assessments, emergency contact persons, addresses and phone numbers, and evacuation plans.
2. Form a safety committee that would lead the preparation activities as outlined in the manual. The committee should facilitate drills and evaluation of the safety and preparedness processes, create implementation teams and execute a communication strategy to the organization.
3. Ensure that there are current phone records and emergency contact information for all employees so that they may be contacted after the emergency.
4. Create emergency leave and assistance policies to help employees and their families who may have been injured or suffered material loss as a result of the hurricane.
5. Provide counseling and support for employees and managers who may have been adversely affected by the hurricane.
6. Recognize and celebrate the efforts of all to secure the workplace and celebrate the strength and commitment of the team.
Hurricanes are not the only disasters our Caribbean nations experience and HR should have contingency plans for all eventualities, especially as they relate to leave, pay, and support to the employees and managers of their organizations. As the heart of any organization, HR must be ready, available and proactive in the event of any emergency.