How to Keep Your Employees Calm During a Hurricane
Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause a lot of anxiety for your employees. Learn how being prepared can help you support and keep your team calm during a hurricane.
Imagine the following hypothetical scenario.
A major storm system swirls together in the Atlantic. During a 48-hour period, it rapidly intensifies into a Category 4 major hurricane 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.
Understandably, the default response is usually to panic.
There is plenty to fear for anyone facing a major hurricane. From personal injury to financial loss, these storms can be destructive, deadly, and result in long-term suffering.
There is also the impact a storm might have on a worker’s place of employment. Employees will likely wonder whether their office will close, when it might reopen, and what management expects of them. If they are working remotely, they may feel even more in the dark and uncertain about what to expect.
All of these unknowns lead to anxiety that can compound an already emotional and frightening experience. In terms of continuity for your organization, the more informed your people are, the quicker business operations can return to normal.
In this post, we’ll cover several ways organizations can improve communication and effectively navigate uncertainty before, during, and after a dangerous storm.
Show Your Workers You Care
According to a recent study, natural disasters like hurricanes can cause a significant increase in mental health concerns and stress for anyone in the path of the storm. Business leaders have a responsibility to protect their employees not only from physical harm, but also from as much psychological harm as possible.
Some ways you can support your employees’ mental health and demonstrate that you’re doing everything within your power to keep them protected:
- Provide employees with a workable hurricane preparedness plan
- 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
- Assure 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.
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.
To get the word out quickly, you need to make sure the storm is on your organization’s radar well before it is nearing landfall. The best way to make sure you don’t miss an approaching storm is by utilizing a local threat monitoring system that will proactively warn you when relevant threats emerge. AlertMedia’s threat monitoring system highlights relevant threats on an interactive map—noting which office locations have the potential to be impacted so you can get the message out to the right people.
The same FSU 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 a hurricane preparedness checklist: Think through tasks you can perform for 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 item on this list 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 alert 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.
Questions organizations should ask in advance of a hurricane
- What system is in place to communicate with staff?
- Who should employees turn to during all phases of a hurricane?
- How will the business check in on 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:
- Familiarize employees with your organization’s hurricane response plan
- Tell them who to contact and where to get additional information
- Advise them on where to go for behavioral health services if needed
- Give them ways to stay informed throughout a hurricane
- Recommend authorities and 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 option to create “event pages,” 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, the less anxious they’ll be throughout the storm.
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
Staying up-to-date on the status of your workers throughout a hurricane is essential to reassuring your workers they’re protected.
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.