Eye of the Storm: How to Keep Your Employees Calm During a Hurricane

By May 28, 2019 September 10th, 2019 Emergency Management
Keep Employees Calm During a Hurricane

A major storm system swirls together in the Atlantic. Over 48 hours, it rapidly intensifies into a Category 4 beast with sustained wind speeds of 130 mph. Forecasters warn that the hurricane will unleash catastrophic damage. It’s moving due west and your state is directly in its path.

Panic.

There is plenty to fear for anyone facing a major hurricane. From personal injury to financial loss to a complete upheaval of ordinary life, these storms can be destructive, deadly, and result in long-term suffering.

The impact a storm might have on a worker’s place of employment is another added stressor. Some concerns employees will have: the status of their office before, during, and after a storm moves through, when their branch might reopen, and what management expects of them.

All of these unknowns lead to anxiety that can end up compounding an already emotional and frightening experience. In terms of continuity for your organization, the more informed your people are, the quicker normal business operations can resume.

Fortunately, there are hurricane communication templates available specifically designed to help guide your employees through all phases of a storm. They come with preset messaging so you’re ready to instruct your people well before a hurricane hits.

The following action items will both help position your organization to navigate a dangerous storm as well as ease the concerns your employees will likely have.

Build Your Hurricane Preparedness Plan

Before a storm system even begins to take shape, it’s important to have a plan in place that fully preps your organization and people for a dangerous hurricane.

The sooner you inform staff of a possible threat, the less stressful the situation will be. According to a Florida State University study, 34% of the full-time workers surveyed stated that the mere thought of a hurricane scared them.

The same study also revealed that hurricane-related apprehension extended to other areas of their work and home life. This results in significant stress surrounding a storm.

Developing a hurricane preparedness plan is one of the most effective ways to ease employee stress and minimize the impact to your organization.

We recommend the following steps as you build out your hurricane preparedness plan:

  • Protect Your Data: Back up offsite in case there’s on-premises damage (flooding)
  • Create Checklists: Think through tasks to perform throughout the duration of a hurricane to help minimize panic
  • Assign Emergency Response Teams: Designate roles to key decision makers so everyone knows exactly what to do and who to contact
  • Map Evacuation Routes: Plan ahead to help put everyone’s minds at ease
  • Invest in Safety Tools: Adopting reliable communication equipment is essential to keeping everyone connected

The final bullet item is essential to keeping staff calm during all phases of a hurricane, which is often a confusing time. Employees are often unaware of the condition of their office—and management is often in the dark on the status of their workers.

This is where an emergency notification system with two-way messaging capability is essential. Sending out a single text blast or email might reach your people, but you need a reliable way to confirm they received the message (and they need a way to respond quickly if necessary).

Communicate Proactively with Your People

Even if a hurricane is hundreds of miles from shore, it’s important to give employees enough time to make necessary arrangements. The sooner you can relay relevant information to your people, the less anxious (and more focused) they’ll be.

Before a storm hits, an organization should ask the following questions:

  • What system is in place to communicate with staff?
  • Who should employees turn to during all phases of a hurricane?
  • How will the business maintain status of its people during a storm?
  • What plans are in place to relay critical information following a hurricane?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends the following tips to help alleviate the anxiety your workers will likely experience:

  • Familiarity with your organization’s hurricane response plan
  • Response and recovery stressors to look out for
  • Pre-hurricane briefing covering protocol, who to contact, and where to get additional information
  • Where to go for behavioral health services if needed
  • Ways to stay informed throughout a hurricane
  • Authorities/weather specialists that employees can trust for guidance

Having an emergency communication system in place is also an opportunity to provide your people with effective ways to stay calm throughout the duration of a hurricane.

Some emergency communication providers offer an “Event Page,” which can be a valuable resource in the aftermath of a storm. The pages serve as a central hub where an organization can post-disaster updates, upload video/photos, and communicate a recovery plan.

The more you can equip your people with relevant information and help them proactively plan for a storm, the less anxious they’ll be throughout its duration.

Conduct Check-Ins and Wellness Checks

Some mass communication systems offer two-way messaging, so you can stay connected with your people. Employers should have a system in place that allows them to conduct periodic check-ins with read confirmations.

In addition, you’ll want a solution that allows you to get quick status updates on your people during a hurricane. Some providers, like AlertMedia, offer complete monitoring services. These services help you track down every employee during an emergency and provide them with the instruction they need.

During and after a hurricane, employee safety is a top priority. Here’s what to look for in a system that provides wellness checks:

  • Multi-Channel Capable: Technology that allows you to reach every employee across devices
  • Trained Monitoring Specialists: Live person available 24/7 who will make repeated attempts to connect with your people or dispatch EMS to a specific location
  • Two-Way Messaging: Ability to get status updates and read confirmations from your people, wherever they are

Maintaining insight into the status of your workers throughout a hurricane is essential to reassuring your workers they’re protected.

Show Your Workers You Care

According to the Florida State University study, business leaders who sought to effectively and proactively address employee apprehension reported benefits to their organizations year-round, not just during hurricane season.

Some ways you can demonstrate to your people you’re doing everything within your power to keep them protected:

  • Provide employees with a workable hurricane preparedness plan
  • Empower everyone to develop the peace of mind needed to work without distraction
  • Help employees deal with hurricane-induced anxiety that might occur at both work or home
  • Make resources, such as behavioral health services, easily accessible
  • Cover their work by bringing in temporary or non-local employees
  • Ensure your workers that you have a system in place to keep them connected throughout the entire duration of a storm

The more you can ease the concerns your people will have, the less likely they’ll be to stress over the impact of a potential hurricane. Making employee safety and well-being a top priority will have long-lasting benefits.

Keep Your People Safe and Calm During a Hurricane

AlertMedia is the leader in emergency communication software. Thanks to two-way messaging, an intuitive user interface, and 24/7 customer support, you can rest easy knowing you and your people are prepared if a storm is heading your way.

Having pre-set messaging in place will alleviate stress and ultimately help protect your people. AlertMedia’s hurricane templates provide businesses with hurricane messaging across devices and throughout all phases of a storm.

Need help preparing your business for hurricane season? Download our hurricane preparedness checklist.

 

DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST

Image credit: Andy Baron