Protect Your Employees After a Natural Disaster with an EAP
ACI SVP of Marketing/IT Tim Mutrie is a frequent conference speaker and media contributor. See his recent feature below, originally published in Next Concept HR Magazine.
Trapped by a raging fire, nurse and mother-of-five Tamara Ferguson tearfully called her children to tell them she wasn’t going to survive the blaze. Despite having been given a chance to evacuate the town of Paradise before it was destroyed by one of four major wild fires burning in California, the dedicated nurse stayed behind to help her patients get to safety.
Due to sheer luck the fire turned away from Tamara’s location, allowing several sheriff’s cruisers to escort her and her patients away from the deadly inferno. Unfortunately, more than 85 other people in the Paradise Fire weren’t so lucky, succumbing to smoke inhalation or burning to death in the deadliest fire in the state’s history. This single fire alone destroyed more than 18,000 structures and 153,000 acres of land.
Beyond wildfires, Hurricane Irma caused 2.8 billion dollars in damages to retail businesses alone. According to FEMA, almost 40% of businesses never reopen after a natural disaster, which means that without careful planning a natural disaster could easily be the end of your business.
While there are some basic steps you can take to protect the company’s physical property during a natural disaster, it is equally important to protect the people who run your business and show up to work day in and day out. One of the ways you can protect your employees in a crisis situation is by partnering with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that includes strong crisis management solutions.
An EAP can offer a number of services, from providing emergency referrals for food, shelter, and other necessities after a natural disaster to providing mental health services and emotional support for people who have survived a traumatic event. An EAP can also help take care of some of the problems most people never think about, like finding emergency pet care and boarding to protect their animals during and after a disaster. The program also includes valuable services such as critical incident stress debriefings, which connects a mental health professional with your employees to help them learn coping strategies and address their concerns in relation to the disaster they or their loved ones experienced.
A natural disaster can cause chaos in your workplace. Surviving a wildfire, hurricane, or other disaster can leave employees injured, homeless, mentally scarred, and in need of significant help repairing the damage mother nature left in her wake. Without the resources necessary to assist your employees, many companies will be left with the costs of high turnover rates as workers are forced to relocate, or worse, leave the workforce altogether. An EAP is one part of the solution and can help your business keep employees safe and cared for, even in the worst situations.
So many businesses invest extensively in data protection and data security measures, but often overlook protecting their most important asset: the employees, their livelihoods and their families. Tamara Ferguson and others like her chose not to leave during a natural disaster because they were dedicated employees, helping patients and customers escape the certain death they would have faced without help. An employee who would stay to help take care of your business as walls of fire envelop the city is a vital asset to your company and deserves to be protected.