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Mr. Glasser

Security & Safety

Well-Prepared Employee and Family Plans and Benefits

By Marc Glasser, Managing Director, RM LLC

Disasters, emergencies, and other types of disruptive incidents, can have a significant impact on organizations and communities. Effective measures can be instituted to prevent or mitigate the effects of disruptive incidents. Referring to private sector organizations, including hotel facilities and supporting offices, that may be located on or off the main hotel property, disruptive incidents can directly affect employees and impact entire hotel operations at both the macro and micro level.

Would you build or renovate a hotel without architectural plans? Absolutely not. For just a moment, think about what would happen if new hotel construction proceeded without architectural plans. The hotel would be structurally unsound, require additional exorbitant expenditures related to hotel building and retrofitting and the hotel would not function as it should. If hotel employees are unprepared for disruptive incidents, with no emergency program or plan in place, hotel operations would figuratively and literally "collapse", resulting in an array of negative outcomes. Less significant outcomes could include chaos, panic, and loss of reputation. Greater negative outcomes could include loss of revenue, decreased hotel company valuation, and loss of property and life.

While generally, first responder assistance will be minutes, or more, away, individual employee preparedness is equally essential, as the "true first responders" will most likely be hotel employees. Effective employee knowledge of how to respond will be based upon a successful Employee and Family Plan Program. Additionally, being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety and associated loss for hotel employees and guests for minimal as well as catastrophic disruptive events. Further, the more prepared the employee is, the easier the transition from the "crisis" back to "normal" operations for the employee as well as employer.

As we understand, well-prepared employees can save lives, safeguard property as well as protect and sustain the hotel's operations and business reputation. The lives that can be saved include hotel employees themselves as well as hotel guests. Further, a well-prepared employee program includes planning and preparation for the employee's family. This helps to ensure that employees working during incidents will feel more at ease, as their families will be instituting preparedness measures, facilitating the protection of loved ones and valuables. During disruptive incidents, this often may make the difference between employees reporting to work or not.

Management support at the highest organizational levels is the foundation of a beneficial Employee and Family Plan Program. This management support establishes, promotes and reinforces a "culture of preparedness". From this culture of preparedness, appropriate resources will be allocated to establish and maintain an effective Employee and Family Plan Program. In a time of full plan activation, the established plans and procedures will facilitate the most appropriate response thus saving lives and property and further promoting the hotel's reputation. This type of plan will further set the hotel apart from its competition. Even if a plan is never fully activated under emergency situations, it will positively affect the bottom line through increasing employee morale - improving customer service, appropriate risk identification, facilitating better relations with external organizations (e.g., law enforcement, fire safety, media, hospitals) and may result in hotel insurance premium reductions.

Instituting an Employee and Family Plan Program will help identify risks in the non-crisis environment, which permits time to develop effective risk mitigation plans to include delineating crisis roles and responsibilities. The risk identification process will help to prioritize the allocation of limited resources where they should be most effective. The risk assessment and mitigation process may have already been performed and prioritized by the hotel's existing security, business continuity, IT or crisis management department. If this is the case, the Employee and Family Plan Program will be based on previous, but up-to-date, information. If no such activities have taken place, the involvement of the associated lines of business will identify key roles and responsibilities that will be valuable and effective well beyond the Employee and Family Plan Program. Plan creation and maintenance will also facilitate contact between the above-mentioned departments as well as human resources, legal and public relations departments.

The Employee and Family Plan Program should address appropriate procedures based on the threats to include the most probable natural disasters, pandemics, technical hazards (e.g., utility disruptions, hazardous material accidents) and intentional threats (e.g., terrorism, workplace violence issues such as an active shooter, disgruntled employee, sabotage). Further, the plan should include pertinent information from local sources such as police, fire and the local emergency management department. Additionally, take into consideration information provided by the nearest FEMA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offices.

The plan should facilitate the set up, in advance, and placement of worksite and family emergency preparedness kits. Basic kit should include:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Households/individuals should consider and customize their plans for individual needs and responsibilities based on the methods of communication, types of shelter, and methods of transportation available to them. Other factors to keep in mind include:

  • Different ages of members
  • Responsibilities for assisting others
  • Locations frequented
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
  • languages
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets or service animals

While further details are beyond the scope of this article, the plan should address:

  • Management chain of command
  • Succession and communication procedures as well as employee and family notifications procedures.
  • In times of disaster employees and guests on-site may not have the ability to travel to and from the hotel.
  • Essential utility disruptions or unavailability and shortage of essential goods (i.e., water, food, medical supplies including prescription medicines) should be considered

The Employee and Family Plan will help ensure that management has current employee contact information should be verified annually and updated in the interim, as information changes. This information, sometimes voluntary, may be critical to the success of contacting the employee or family member prior to, during, or after a crisis event. A "need to notify event" not related to large-scale emergency or disaster, such as single employee occupational injury, could occur and require utilizing the same information, which otherwise may not be possible.

Plan for Locations

While there are warnings for many types of potential disasters, many emergencies and disasters occur without any warning. Since you can't predict where you will be for disasters, it is important to have plans and supplies for the locations you and your household go to regularly. Planning ahead will ensure that you and your household will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are.

Individuals and households should consider the locations they frequent; find out what plans are available for these locations, and customize their personal and household plans based on what household members would do if an emergency occurred while they were at that location. Examples of locations to consider and plan for include:

  • Home
  • Workplace
  • Vehicles
  • Regular methods of transportation such as trains, urban commuter transit
  • School
  • Places of Worship
  • Sports arenas and playing fields
  • Entertainment locations such as theatres
  • Shopping areas such as malls and retail centers
  • Tourist and travel locations such as hotels

Developing plans for different locations requires obtaining key information about the organization or building managers' plans for the locations. In some cases if plans are not available, this may involve working with the building manager or other members of the organization to develop or expand plans. Information that should be considered includes:

  • How you and other occupants will get local alert or warnings while you are there
  • Building location alarm or alert systems
  • Building occupant evacuation plans including alternate exits
  • Building or organization plans for sheltering occupants in an emergency
  • Key Supplies you/household members and others would need for temporary sheltering

Planning should also consider how the type of structure or the environments around the structure or location may impact alerts and warnings, shelter and evacuation, and the need for supplies. Examples of considerations for the type of structure or the environment around the location include:

  • Single story versus multi-story or high rise buildings have different types of alarm systems, shelter and evacuation considerations
  • Urban and rural locations may have different local assumptions and plans for evacuation if large areas are impacted
  • Buildings like schools, sports arenas, and malls may have different plans for evacuation and shelter depending on the specific building structure and likely safe methods for evacuation or safe locations for shelter for different types of emergencies (e.g. tornadoes)
  • Outdoor locations likes sports fields or golf courses need specific plans for rapid short-term shelter e.g. for thunderstorms and lightning or tornadoes
  • Geography may be critical for some hazards (e.g. if the area is low and vulnerable to flash flooding)
  • Mobile homes, modular structures and other buildings not attached to permanent foundations require planning for evacuation and alternate shelter locations

Relating to the Family Plan, financial beneficiary forms, power of attorney and living wills should be provided to each employee for their completion. Family Plans should address children, child care providers, schools and locations, other significant family members, coworkers and friends. Family Plan should cover evacuation and "shelter-in-place" scenarios (remaining at the location where you are located when the disaster strikes). The plan should address where family members will be at different times during the day and night such as work, school, childcare facilities or in transport (e.g., car or public transportation). As highlighted in the list above, Hurricane Katrina taught us many families consider their pets to be very important family members, and thus they should be included in plan considerations. Additionally, other plan considerations include alternate payroll distribution, hiring of a supplemental part-time workforce, alternate contract service providers and telework procedures.

Well-prepared employees, those who know how to implement on-site and family emergency plans, will be the first responders who will help protect life, property, operations, reputation and profit. Additionally, these well-prepared employees will have peace of mind knowing that their families are protected as well because of the corresponding Family Plan program. The entire "hotel family" (including employees, guests, other on-site patrons and off-site employee family members) will be best protected when well-prepared employees are on-site executing the emergency plans, when necessary, which will minimize losses and facilitate more rapid return to normal hotel operations, insuring greater profitability and reputation enhancement.

Reference:

http://www.ready.gov

Marc Glasser is the Managing Director of RM (Protection Risk Management) LLC. RM LLC provides security, business continuity, and emergency management services spanning the protection of life, operations, assets and stakeholder value. He directs risk management, security, and business continuity programs (including business impact and supply chain analysis) to mitigate vulnerabilities, including natural (e.g., floods, earthquakes, hurricanes), technical (e.g., utility service disruptions, hazardous materials incidents), and intentional (e.g., terrorism, theft, espionage). Mr. Glasser can be contacted at 702-809-3434 or mglasser@rmllc.com Extended Bio...

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