Viewpoint: Be Prepared Before Disaster Strikes

By Greta Gonzales | July 26, 2021

In the wake of 2020 and winter storm Uri, we have seen firsthand how disaster can strike anytime or anywhere, causing sometimes irreparable damage — and no business is immune. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons is the importance of business owners having disaster plans ready to protect their operations and employees. Studies have shown that the majority of businesses will not survive a disaster if they are not able to recover and return to operations within one month of a disaster striking.

No disaster will ever go exactly according to plan, but those who have emergency preparedness basics in place will fare better than those who do not. Business owners can start taking steps today to prepare for the future should a disaster occur.

Evaluate lessons learned. Take a look back at past crises your business has faced and evaluate what could have been done differently — these lessons learned could help you prepare for events in the future. Assess where your business is at now and ways in which you could potentially pivot operations if necessary. Every business is different, so figure out what’s right for your business and tailor your plans to the needs of your business, employees and customers.

Create a disaster preparedness plan. Write down a plan and be prepared for it to change along the way. Take time to think about the unthinkable. Look at the potential outcomes of different types of disasters and familiarize yourself with the steps you can take in response to each scenario. No one is ever fully prepared for a disaster but having any amount of preparation and planning in place is highly beneficial if and when disaster strikes.

Make sure that your entire team is aware of your disaster plan. The last thing anyone wants to do in the face of disaster is go into panic mode. In a disaster situation, employees will look to their employers to lead and to get operations back on track quickly. Having a system in place for quick and effective communication with employees will make it much easier for everyone to get on the same page and pivot quickly. In a crisis scenario, time is of the essence. Making sure your disaster plan includes clearly defined roles and responsibilities that all employees are aware of will save time in figuring out how to respond to a crisis.

Test your plan and update it often, making sure to solicit employee input along the way. When employees see you making an effort to be safe and when they are involved in the actual planning process, they feel valued and invested. Having the entire business on board with your disaster plan is crucial to ensuring that your business will stay resilient after an emergency. Create a frequent schedule for evaluating your plan and making sure it still fits the needs of your business.

Invest in safety, it pays off. Know the hazards of your business and have a response plan for any potential scenario. Consider investing in preventing workplace hazards to avoid crises from happening. Also consider evaluating business protections such as your insurance policy and determining if it includes protections for unforeseen circumstances such as loss of time and loss of business.

Texas Mutual has created the Be Ready Texas Podcast for additional resources and tips for how business owners can get prepared before disaster strikes.

About Greta Gonzales

Gonzales is vice president and chief risk officer at Texas Mutual Insurance Co.

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