8 steps to make disasters everybody’s business (part 2)
As we publish this blog Melbourne in Australia is just coming out of the second COVID lockdown. And as we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel it’s clear that many individuals and business owners/operators are hoping this will be the last of the disasters to impact us for a while.
Unfortunately the short-term predictions are there is a lot more impact ahead.
While many of us have experienced drought + bushfires + COVID… we are now receiving intel about flooding. The predictions for the coming months are rain, rain, rain.
Part 2 of our 8-steps will help businesses better ready themselves for future impacts – and we know the more prepared you are the more resilient and ready to thrive you will be.
Below are our final 4 steps to making disasters everybody’s business.
Who is helping you plan for disasters?
The idea of promoting and talking about disasters (especially in the current climate) might seem strange. But the more we talk about it, the more people we can engage.
Through each of the steps I’ve outlined in part 1, you’ll be talking to people and engaging your teams, your customers and your suppliers. You’ve started a conversation with your other businesses in your area.
You don’t need to figure this out on your own. Engaging every member of your business will mean everyone will know what they need to do in a disaster. They’ll have a sense of ownership of the plan. By sharing your plans with business contacts, friends and family, you might even pick up some extra ideas.
ACTION STEP 5
- Write a list of all the internal stakeholders that could be part of your disaster planning.
- Write a list of all the external stakeholders that could be part of your disaster planning.
Do your stakeholders know about your disaster plans?
It’s not enough to develop a plan and then leave it to gather dust in a corner, or get lost in the online filing system.
You don’t want to leave it until disaster strikes to tell your employees or your customers about your plans. And trust me, NOT talking about disasters isn’t going to stop a disaster from occurring.
The more you talk about your disaster resilience planning, the more it becomes part of business as usual.
Our recent experience with Covid-19 has definitely brought the impact of a large-scale pandemic into each and every loungeroom. Not to mention inbox, as businesses struggled to keep customers up to date with plans.
But what about getting on the front foot? Including your resilience plans in your newsletters or social media communications. Talking about it with staff in all your meetings. Updating suppliers and business contacts as your planning progresses.
If you can start the conversation and keep it going, those channels will be open when disaster happens and you need to communicate.
It needs to become part of your business as usual conversations across all teams, divisions and business functions. By talking more about your disaster planning, there’s a chance others will join you in building their own disaster resilience.
ACTION STEP 6
What are your current channels of communication with your:
- Local business networks
Can you include a short message about your disaster resilience in your next newsletter or social media calendar? It could be as simple as including a link to this blog.
How will you integrate disaster planning into your business?
Hopefully you’ve started to think through some of the areas that I’ve outlined above.
I hope that by breaking this into short, easy to manage tasks, you’ve realised disaster planning doesn’t have to be a massive overwhelming task shouldered by one or two people. For disaster resilience to be truly effective, you need remove any silos.
But the key step now is taking the plans you’ve made and integrating them into your business as usual tasks. This mightn’t all happen at once, but the more that you and the rest of your team look at business with the resilience mindset, the easier it will be to identify changes you can make.
ACTION STEP 7
Look at the disaster resilience plans you’ve started to make.
- Are there areas of your business that you haven’t included?
- Have all staff members had the opportunity to comment and contribute?
- How can you include disaster resilience discussions in your regular planning/meetings?
How will you keep disaster resilience in the spotlight?
We’ve all been through periods in a workspace where we get fired up about a new issue. We attend the training sessions, develop the plans and then share them around.
And then what?
Once you’ve invested the time in effort into developing new ways to respond to disasters, and communicated those plans, you need to effectively sustain and maintain this effort.
Disaster resilience should be a cultural norm. It should be one of your strategic priorities.
Include a resilience review on your weekly or monthly catch up agendas so maintaining resilience becomes business as usual too.
ACTION STEP 8
- List how you will ensure you effectively sustain and maintain resilience as part of your business?
Examples of companies doing resilience well.
- Waffle House
The ‘Waffle House Index’ is an unofficial indicator for the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The company recognised that diners visiting this 24/7 food chain traditionally live in the path of large-scale disasters. So Waffle House developed a two-fold resilience approach integrating community resilience into their everyday business resilience.
Waffle House has a handbook so staff know what measures they need to take during a disaster. This means the restaurant stays open to support the community, even if it’s just providing a cup of coffee.
Here in Australia, major supermarket and retail chain Woolworths have identified the importance of resilience for their business. They have a leadership role responsible for Group Resilience.
This strategic and holistic approach results in disaster resilience being identified as priority for the Woolworths Group.
It’s never been more important to have strong disaster resilience plans to protect your people, property and profits.
And regardless of your size, it can seem like an overwhelming task.
But it doesn’t have to be. If you work through the 8 action steps above, you’re well on your way to building a disaster resilient business.
Renae Hanvin is the founder of corporate2community and a leader in private sector contribution before, during and after disasters. Most known for ‘Doing Disasters Differently’, Renae helps corporates, SMEs, governments and communities build disaster resilience to all-hazards. corporate2community’s Resilient Ready™ Corporates and Resilient Ready™ Small Biz programs facilitate resilience across businesses of all sizes.