How to Keep Your Employees Safe During a Typhoon

The Philippines is no stranger to typhoons, but it still pays to be prepared when it strikes. As a business owner, here’s how you can keep yourself and your employees safe.

A tropical country like the Philippines will always have its fair share of typhoons. Some bring strong winds, while others carry strong rains, and in some instances, a mix of both. But no matter what comes your way, keeping safe is an absolute must. And with that comes the need to be prepared.

As a business owner, it is important to take charge in situations like this. Business continuity may be at the top of your mind, but ensuring your employees’ safety is just as important. After all, your employees are your most vital asset and the lifeblood of every company. Just as your business cannot run without employees, your business also cannot recover from a disaster without them. It all goes hand in hand.

Planning Ahead

The phrase “better safe than sorry” is repeated many times, but it holds true for any emergency, including natural disasters. Before the typhoon (or any natural disaster, for that matter) hits, it is important to have a contingency plan ready. Here are some ways to incorporate your employees’ safety and welfare, as well as emergency measures that need to be done.

  • Have an Emergency Resource Plan Ready: includes business continuity plans, your expectations for your employees, as well as what the company will provide during emergencies. This is a clear way to communicate company policies regarding pay, benefits, and aid. Will employees be paid even when the business has to close temporarily? And if so, for how long? Can they work from home or do they report to work in shifts?
  • Staff Meetings and Orientations: having a clear set of measures not only gives your employees peace of mind but also shows that the company can ride out a disaster and take care of its workers. With that being said, it is important to regularly update your employees on the company’s emergency response and the business continuity measures you have in place. Answer their questions, address their concerns and keep them engaged with the procedures.
  • Staff Training: applies to on-site workers. Companies should conduct periodic drills and exercises prior to any emergency in order to learn what works and what doesn’t. Working with your employees in order to refine the plan, as well as encouraging them to learn basic emergency response training will ensure that they don’t panic during the actual emergency.
  • Keep Communication Lines Open: communication is key, most especially during an emergency. Ensure that all employee contact information is updated—from addresses to cell phone numbers, landlines, emails, social media, emergency contacts, and the like. You can also set up a channel for announcements in order to keep everyone in the company updated in the form of group chats or company-exclusive social media accounts.

Emergency Responses During a Typhoon

Keeping your employees safe should be your top priority during emergencies. While material possessions are just as important, they can be replaced over time. Lives, however, are irreplaceable.

Some companies may choose to suspend operations a day before the typhoon hits or to establish a work-from-home setup, while others may choose to close early and send employees home. However, in some cases, your employees may be required to stay on-site to attend to critical operations. In this case, as the business owner, you’ll need to:

  • Keep Tabs on Everyone: know the whereabouts of every employee and visitor on-site.
  • Keep Communication Lines Open: stay updated with what’s going on on-site. Also, make sure that all cellular devices are charged beforehand.
  • Communicate Clear Procedures for Evacuating if Necessary: ideally, this should be practiced even before the typhoon hits in order to put everyone’s minds at ease.
  • Have Emergency Supplies Ready: this includes battery-powered lights and radio, bedding, bottled water, non-perishable food (ex: canned goods or instant noodles), and a first aid kit, among other essentials.
  • Assign Emergency Response Teams: name key personnel, managers, or a medical team who can make important decisions during an emergency. That way, everyone knows exactly what to do and who to contact.
  • Invest in Safety Tools: examples include reliable communication tools (essential to keeping everyone connected) medical supplies, power generators, and equipment that can help people escape to safety.

Dealing With the Aftermath

After the typhoon has passed, you and your employees will need to deal with the aftermath—from cleaning up to catching up on work, and even obligations within everyone’s respective households. What’s more, an ordeal like this will warrant a lot of confusion, anxiety, stress, and unanswered questions.

For all these and more, it is important to:

  • Communicate With Your Employees and Respective Persons-in-Charge: aside from checking up on everyone’s safety, health, and well-being, it is important to also communicate when they’re expected to return to work, whether they’ll need to report to a different location or work from home, as well as what their tasks will be moving forward.
  • Be Aware of the Hazards On-site: property damage may occur after a typhoon, which can put employees at risk, especially when they return on-site. If that is the case, professionals may need to be called in to assess the premises, and even check or repair any damages and hazards.
  • Be Considerate and Flexible About Your Employees’ Personal Situations: a typhoon can result in casualties, property damage, and a lot of problems beyond work. This can affect the well-being and performance of your employees, with some having to choose between your business needs and their obligations at home. In these cases, it is important to check up on them and provide assistance when needed.
  • Be Mindful of Your Employees’ Emotional Needs: stress, anxiety, and grief are just some of the emotions that people go through after a typhoon. Make sure to offer support and be present when your employees go through the various stages of coping with the typhoon’s aftermath. When needed, provide resources where they can get help.
  • Offering Assistance: help your employees by providing aid in the form of care packages, emergency food, emergency cash, payroll advances, transportation assistance, and temporary housing and childcare assistance. Some companies even offer benefits like extending leave time.

Keeping Your Employees Safe Starts With You

During emergencies like typhoons, it is important to remain calm. As a business owner, you are also a leader whom your employees will look up to in time of need. But even so, you cannot shoulder everything on your own. This is why it is important to involve everyone in your contingency plans—whether for your employees, for business continuity, or even for your business to recover.

By planning ahead and regularly communicating with your employees, you are setting an example as someone who can play a critical role during uncertain times. Likewise, you are empowering them to do the same.

Stay safe and dry, everyone!

Photos from Unsplash

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