As hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall in the U.S. over the past two weeks, no one could have imagined the historical nature of their effects. Even the best prepared contingency plans were put to the test.
What is HR’s role in crisis planning and recovery?
HR has been, is and will continue to be a focal point for how organizations get back on their feet after a disaster or crisis, no matter the cause.
Natural disasters like hurricanes are stark reminders that you can never be too prepared. Whether it is a natural disaster, a pandemic or an active shooter workplace situation, it’s imperative that HR have a plan in place to address every operational aspect of the workplace.
Communicating, providing guidance, and implementing policies in a compliant and compassionate fashion is critical. And this is especially true when it comes to wage and hour issues. “A top priority,” says employment attorney Jonathan Segal in the blog post Houston Employers: Wage & Hour Guidance and Hurricane Harvey “is helping employees and remaining as operational as possible.” Segal cites several rules that apply but also touches upon the human side of this sensitive topic. “There is no legal obligation under the FLSA to pay nonexempt employees who do not work because you close due to the hurricane; however … consider the employee relations message of paying exempt but not paying nonexempt employees for a day on which you are closed.”
Testing your plan before a crisis hits is also important. In the SHRM Online article HR Pros Weather the Storm, Paula Harvey, SHRM-SCP, Vice President of HR for Schulte Building Systems, and her HR team prepared their workplace for Hurricane Harvey's landfall well before it hit Houston. Harvey emphasizes the importance of brainstorming, planning ahead and having a “solid, detailed, well-communicated disaster plan for the workplace.” Testing the plan is equally important. “Too many companies put off testing their disaster plans and find themselves scrambling when a disaster actually hits.”
Cecilia Clark, talent acquisition manager for NextOp in Houston, has also been involved in her organization’s crisis management plan. In the blog post We Stand Strong During Hurricane Harvey, Clark says, “What I have learned during this crisis is that there is no one perfect way to handle a crisis. Every organization naturally reacts based on their company culture. Consequently, every organization must prepare differently. The emergency plan must align with their company culture and vision. It is the company culture and vision that are responsible for driving their employees’ actions.”
Is your organization prepared for a crisis?
Against the historic backdrop of some of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, this week’s #Nextchat will examine the people, practices and policies of crisis planning and recovery.
Q1. For employers and HR, what are the key considerations for developing a crisis plan? (succession plans, alternate HQ, technology, workflex, etc.)
Q2. What technology considerations are most important to employers during a crisis?
Q3. What compliance issues are most important to consider in a crisis plan? (PTO/FMLA/ADA?)
Q4. What are some crisis accommodations that employers should plan on making during a crisis and the recovery period?
Q5. How can employers help employees with the many stresses associated with post-crisis recovery? (financial, physical, mental)
Q6. What crisis management and charitable organizations can HR partner with during a crisis?
Q7. What is preventing your organization from creating a crisis management plan or what information would you need to complete it?
Q8. How can HR pros take care of their own stress and each other during a crisis?