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September is National Preparedness Month: Here's what you need to know

By Eze Castle Integration | Thursday, September 7th, 2017

With hurricane season fully upon us and Irma bearing down on Florida, firms must ask "Would my firm be ready if there were an emergency today?" and "Would your employees know what to do?" September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) which is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA’s The Ready Campaign in an effort to increase awareness for individuals, businesses, families and communities. NPM aims to encourage the public to make preparedness a part of their daily lives and stresses the importance of being ready for the unknown.

Why should you focus on being prepared?

By teaching your employees why to prepare, your firm will not only demonstrate its importance, but employees will also maintain this knowledge and expertise that will help keep the business operational. Preparation can mean the difference between a successful and failed recovery, both personally and professionally. Educating your employees on what they’ll need at home, where to go, who to contact, etc. will equip them with the right information they’ll require at the time of an incident. With the proper information readily available, employees can focus on helping resume business operations more quickly.

How do you prepare your employees?

Preparing your employees begins with training geared towards how to respond to an incident. Training is typically more helpful if conducted multiple times, various ways and with additional variables involved in the program. There are a number of ways you can begin preparing your employees. Following are some of the techniques we recommend:

  • Employee training exercises – A great starting point for any awareness program. This employee training should focus on where to go, who to contact and what to do at the time of an incident.

  • Tabletop exercises – Typically includes key members of the firm who are responsible for ensuring their employees are accounted for, safe and able to continue business operations. Tabletop exercises take these members through an imitation real-life scenario and focus on how to recover.

  • Posters – Typically high-level information posted throughout the firm’s high-traffic areas to increase awareness.

  • Checklists – These can be lists on crucial items to have on-hand, key contacts, local hotels, etc.  These checklists are typically provided for employees to fill out and keep with them for a time of need.

  • Guides on Personal Preparation – This includes key information assisting employees on how to prepare, respond and recover on a personal level.

What should be included in your awareness program?

It’s important for your firm’s awareness program to first define who in the company will be the leaders of the incident response. These leaders will be the main points of contact Preparedness Month - September 2013for employees throughout the response process. Other key information to include in the firm’s awareness program is where employees will go and how they will access the firm’s network. Not only should employees have this information readily available to them, but the awareness program ought to also include high-level material such as the items below:

  • An assembled emergency kit – For the office and suggestions for employees’ homes

  • An emergency plan –  For the firm, your employees’ families and/or homes

  • Staying informed – Identifying what information is available to the firm and the employees

  • Getting involved – Having employees test remotely, knowing what resources are available at the time of an incident, etc.

Through various training exercises over time, your employees will begin to understand the importance of being prepared for the unknown. Equipping your employees with the right information both personally and professionally will give them peace of mind that they’re ready and can handle anything that comes their way. Once they know what to do, where to go, and have the vital resources to assist in recovering, your employees will be able to return their focus to business operations easily and quickly.

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Editor's Note: This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2013 by Katharine Washburn (Eze Castle Integration).
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