The pandemic may be winding down, but natural threats are constant. Forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and severe storms can appear at any time, and employers must be prepared for the possibility the workplace may be impacted.
While we all hope we won’t need it, proactive planning and the right communication platform minimizes damages when an unfortunate circumstance derails your business.
Here are five ways to prepare your workplace for an emergency:
1. Have a virtual headquarters
When emergencies force office closures, employees need a centralized way to access news, information, and documentation. Every document that's available on-site should also be available on-line.
When the pandemic first hit, legal firm Lenczner Slaght’s intranet served as a virtual headquarters. One of the first things they did was to create a page dedicated to COVID-19 resources. This included various policies, guides, compliance rules, links, and Twitter feeds to trusted news sources. They also turned their intranet into a one-stop-shop, by providing valuable resources (including toolkits, precedents, and technology and services) to lawyers, law students, and law clerks.
“During the past year, when everything has turned virtual, it’s been a saving grace for everyone at the firm,” said Lindsey Bombardier, Director, Marketing & Business Development at Lenczner Slaght.
2. Confirm your employees are reading critical announcements
Disseminating important news and information is only one part of the challenge; the other part is ensuring employees have read it.
At ThoughtFarmer, we have a cool feature called Required Reading. It allows you to designate essential content on your intranet as a mandatory read. The best part is the ability to view an entire report of who has confirmed they’ve read the content, and who hasn’t. The page owner then has the ability to email outstanding readers and notify them of outstanding pages that require their attention. This report can be exported for audit purposes, and can be useful in an emergency.
We’ve been using Required Reading internally on our own intranet for a while now, and we really came to appreciate its value during the pandemic.
3. Have a foolproof way to notify employees
With so many messages and notifications these days, it’s easy to understand why employees might turn off notifications—which can be problematic in the event of an emergency.
This is when you need an emergency broadcast alert system on your intranet. This empowers communications professionals with an easy, efficient way to quickly send all employee alerts about important news.
ThoughtFarmer’s Broadcast alerts work by notifying recipients of an urgent communication on email, in their intranet pages (as a banner), or through mobile push notifications. In dynamic situations the administrator can expire the banner whenever the "all clear" signal is given. The benefits are clear: instant emergency communications over multiple channels, clear banner display on intranet, email alert, dynamic expiration, employee safety, and well-being.
Administrators can later view statistics for the broadcast to discover how many people viewed the banner and how many clicked through the email. This becomes a great source of feedback to improve future content publishing and better audience targeting.
4. Ensure all communication is mobile accessible
This should be obvious in 2022, yet surprisingly there are still organizations that don’t have an effective way to reach employees through their mobile devices.
ThoughtFarmer customer RFTA understands this well. Prior to deploying an intranet, they had no way of reaching frontline employees—like their bus drivers. Often drivers would have to sit and wait around for the availability of workstations in the drivers lounge to access company news.
Now, thanks to the mobile version of their intranet, they can pull up all that information on the phone. And, because the notifications can be customized, drivers aren’t burdened with any noise from irrelevant communication.
5. Create a community
Lastly, a connected community can go a long way in helping organizations weather a crisis.
In 2017, two separate storms left BOK Financial (BOKF) employees without access to email, banking systems, corporate website, or their automated phone systems.
Through their intranet, they were easily able to notify all employees of the storms, and the impact on BOKF’s infrastructure. Employees were grateful for the continual updates, and even more thankful no one was injured. Their intranet was also used to update employees on which branches were open, as well as to answer policy questions about inclement weather.
While BOKF expected their intranet to help them disseminate important information, they hadn’t anticipated the emergence of such a caring and connected community. By adding photos to their intranet employees could immediately see how their coworkers were affected, but more importantly, how they could help. BOKF was able to promote a disaster relief fund, where almost 600 employees donated more than $88,700 to their fellow employees.
You can't control the future, but you can prepare for it. Hopefully the tips above provide you with the guidance and reassurance you need should an unexpected incident occur.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.