Gehring Group Turns to AlertMedia When Hurricanes Strike
Ensures the organization is operationally ready to respond to and support employees during any emergency.
Keeps employees safe from a wide range of threats, including hurricanes, fires, and active shooter incidents.
Gives HR leaders confidence that critical, time-sensitive messages will be received by employees immediately.
Helps Gehring Group maintain business operations and customer satisfaction during disruptive events.
Gehring Group is a well-respected, forward-thinking consultant group that specializes in Employee Group Benefits and Risk Management Services. Since its founding by Kurt Gehring in 1992, the company’s guiding principle has been addressing the needs and goals of public sector entities, businesses, industries, and labor and professional organizations.
Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Gehring Group has remote employees throughout Florida as well as five states across the country. Due to the nature of its business, employees also frequently travel to and work from client sites. Gehring Group relies on AlertMedia to keep its highly mobile, dispersed workforce safe and informed when emergencies such as hurricanes and tropical storms strike.
Eliminating the misinformation and delays that come with email and phone trees
As told to AlertMedia by John Muller, Director of Talent at Gehring Group.
Operating in a region of the country prone to hurricanes and severe weather, having an effective hurricane preparedness and response plan is a top priority for Gehring Group. The organization needed to quickly and reliably notify employees of critical safety and operational updates in the event of an emergency. With approximately half of its 90-plus employees traveling or working remotely at any given time, however, the organization’s approach to emergency communication simply wasn’t cutting it.
Gehring Group relied on email and phone trees to communicate with its dispersed workforce in the event of a hurricane, but these outdated methods proved to be unreliable when it came to sharing time-sensitive information. Prone to errors and long delays, these methods also required a significant amount of administrative work. Before any approaching hurricane, John Muller, Gehring Group’s Director of Talent, would manually collect and maintain a list of employees’ cell phone numbers. To share office closure information and conduct employee wellness checks during the hurricane, Muller and his team would then have to manually email, call, or text each employee.
Adds Muller, “Using email and phone trees to communicate with employees during hurricanes was not only ineffective and time-consuming, it sometimes wasn’t even feasible. When hurricanes make landfall—even if you don’t get a direct hit—you’re usually without power for a period of time. This puts pressure on us to communicate quickly and efficiently, as well as to ensure we can reach employees across multiple channels in case our primary means of communication goes offline.”
“Using email and phone trees to communicate with employees during hurricanes was not only ineffective and time-consuming, it sometimes wasn’t even feasible.”
Multi-channel, two-way communication capabilities safeguard message deliverability
After coming across AlertMedia, Muller and his team soon realized how emergency communication software could help the organization communicate faster and with less effort during severe weather events. Muller says, “Hurricane season is a part of life here in Florida. Every year I have been with Gehring Group, we’ve either had a close call or had to send our team home from the office because of a hurricane. After an initial demo, we knew AlertMedia could help us streamline communication during an emergency or office closure.”
For Gehring Group, AlertMedia’s multi-channel, two-way communication capabilities were key selling points. With multi-channel message delivery, administrators can rapidly deploy critical notifications across email, text, voice call, and mobile app.
“The ability to quickly reach employees across multiple channels is critical during a hurricane when you or your employees may experience weather-related power or utility outages,” adds Muller. “If you only rely on one or two communication channels, you run the risk of your messages not being received. We use email and messaging heavily in the office, but the reality is most people aren’t checking their email or using their computer in an emergency.”
Using surveys and read receipt confirmations, Muller and his team can account for all employees and identify who may be in need of additional assistance. During a building evacuation, a quick survey sent across multiple channels asking employees if they have safely made it out of the building can be used to guide emergency response efforts. To stay informed of all threats that impact employee safety, Muller has also used AlertMedia’s threats and weather map layers to keep up with hurricane warnings, severe weather watches, and even COVID-19 outbreaks in relation to where employees live and work.
“AlertMedia allows us to feel prepared and confident during an emergency so we can be proactive rather than reactive.”
The easy-to-use, full-featured mobile app has been rapidly adopted across the organization, with 68 percent of employees choosing to use the mobile app to send and receive messages during critical events from their phones and tablets. And with pre-built notification templates for a range of potential threats—including fires, hurricanes, and active shooters—Muller and his team can communicate quickly and clearly, even from a mobile device.
“AlertMedia allows us to feel prepared and confident during an emergency so we can be proactive rather than reactive,” notes Muller. “You should be able to activate an emergency communication system with minimal steps, while also doing what you need to do to keep yourself safe. With AlertMedia’s mobile app, I can send an emergency alert out to employees in seconds. Even in situations where I may need to rapidly evacuate the building, I can quickly get out a warning to employees in just a click or two from my phone.”
“With AlertMedia’s mobile app, I can send an emergency alert out to employees in seconds. Even in situations where I may need to rapidly evacuate the building, I can quickly get out a warning to employees in just a click or two from my phone.”
Staying prepared for any emergency, from severe weather to acts of violence
Since 2016, Gehring Group has used AlertMedia to keep its employees safe, maintain vital communications, and meet its duty of care. While the system has been predominantly used to keep employees updated before, during, and after hurricanes, Muller and his team have also used the system to communicate during nearby active shooter incidents and building evacuations.
Just weeks after the Parkland, Florida school shooting tragedy, Gehring Group’s entire office was understandably on edge when the local media reported there was an active shooter at the shopping mall adjacent to the company’s secondary location. Within a matter of minutes, however, Muller was able to inform all employees of the incident, instructing those in the building on what actions they should take and alerting those out of the office to stay away from the area.
“What I really like about using AlertMedia for emergencies is that it is a separate communication tool from anything else we use in our day-to-day operations. Employees take notice when they see an AlertMedia notification come through because they know it is important.”
With AlertMedia’s robust communication capabilities, Gehring Group can more effectively prepare for and protect its people, assets, and operations from any emergency that may arise. Critical messages can be sent and received in near real-time, improving outcomes when a health, safety, or security crisis occurs.
“What I really like about using AlertMedia for emergencies is that it is a separate communication tool from anything else we use in our day-to-day operations. Employees take notice when they see an AlertMedia notification come through because they know it is important,” adds Muller.
A proactive approach to employee well-being is every HR leader’s responsibility
While the AlertMedia system has applications across a number of departments—from IT to Risk Management to Operations and HR—Muller believes it’s every HR leader’s responsibility to keep employees informed and connected when emergencies unfold.
Muller adds, “Right, wrong or indifferent, emergency communication falls on HR. While some HR professionals might see this as a new role, employees have to feel safe at work in order to perform to their fullest potential. I don’t know how any organization in this day and age can have HR not involved in the development and execution of an emergency communication strategy.”
“While some HR professionals might see this as a new role, employees have to feel safe at work in order to perform to their fullest potential. I don’t know how any organization in this day and age can have HR not involved in the development and execution of an emergency communication strategy.”