‘Would Your Business Stay Afloat’ is the title of a document produced by the Environment Agency; the first paragraph reads “Flooding is the most common and widespread natural disaster in the UK. Since 1998 there has been at least one serious flood every year. Businesses are more likely to be flooded than destroyed by fire. As our climate changes we can expect to see more extreme weather – and more floods.”
So what can you do to ensure the safety, HR and logistical aspects of your organisation are weather-proof?
In a nutshell, you need to be prepared and have a plan. Businesses are advised to either incorporate a ‘severe weather’ section into a Business Recovery Plan, or if based in an area prone to flooding to produce one specifically to cover the risks associated with flooding. Online you can quickly read up on such plans with many templates available to serve as a handy starting point. When complete, make sure key members of staff have a copy, hand them out in brightly coloured document wallets and ensure staff take them off the premises.
Have a Plan
You, your employees, customers and suppliers need to know what to do in the event of serious weather emergencies to ensure business continuity.
- Make a list of contacts and distribute it to all who may need it, keep your copy off site.
- Appoint a spokesperson. In times of uncertainty it is essential that there is clear accountability and everyone knows who makes the decisions – this will avoid everyone making their own plans and potential conflict.
- Ensure staff know who is responsible for maintaining the key functions of the business. Who needs to come to work and when?
- Ensure there is an up to date map of facilities with clearly marked service shut off points and the location of potentially hazardous material if appropriate.
- How will you protect stock and equipment, including databases and computers? Who will be responsible for moving them and where will they be stored? Remember to include business and employee vehicles, you do not want to watch cars floating down the road because you didn’t have a plan for moving them to a safe place.
- Ensure someone is allocated the responsibility of communicating with customers and suppliers to discuss deliveries and potential delays. Use your website and your social media pages on Twitter and Facebook – and keep this up-to-date in real time.
- Once a year take time to hold staff meetings to reiterate the plan and advise any changes, give out quirky stress water drops and magnets printed with key telephone numbers and web addresses that staff can pin to their fridges at home in case they’re called for.
Who will Pay?
Do your employees understand the firm’s payment policy, what salaries will be paid, under which conditions and for how long? Make sure that a clear policy exists that complies with statutory requirements.
Business as Usual
If your business operates a service, it may be possible to continue uninterrupted using ‘cloud’ storage for example Google Docs. It is worth incorporating such practices into your business in advance of any issues so staff can become familiar with them and not have to learn a new system at an already stressful time.
Assess Your Risks
Check with your insurance company what cover you have in the event of a flood. If you keep your premises open and an employee gets injured for example – would your policy cover this? It’s very likely your policy will have ‘clauses and small print,’ so make sure that your business complies to avoid battling over any future claims.
By paying attention to weather warnings from the Environment Agency, having a plan, rehearsing scenarios and keeping the your recovery plan up to date your business stands a much better chance of staying afloat. And, if every cloud has a silver lining, pulling together in adversity (and planning for it) can be a powerful team builder.
Sources / Further Reading
“Would your business stay afloat?” Environment Agency.
“Prepare a flood plan for your business.” Environment Agency.