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Risk Insights: Managing Employees After a Disaster

Natural or man-made disasters can cause a continued disruption to everyday life long after the event itself has passed. In the aftermath of disaster, you and your employees may be feeling the emotional and physical effects of loss and the stress that results from an ongoing recovery effort. During this time, it is important to remember that employees may have pressing concerns that affect their work routine.

While resuming operations can be a tough time for your business, it is important that you consider the individual situations of your employees to ensure they are able to successfully manage the rebuilding of both their home and work lives. It is important that your employees are taken care of first so they are safely and adequately able to assist your customers.

Modify Office Policies

Depending on the scope of the disaster, your employees may have suffered severe losses. Relaxing dress codes and office phone use policies and allowing flexible work schedules can make it easier for your employees to handle affairs in their personal lives.

Expand Teleworking

If transport is disrupted and work can be done from home, consider allowing employees to telework. This can make the working day easier on employees, allowing them to be closer to their families. Depending on the extent of damages suffered by local roadways or your business’s physical location, it can also prevent unnecessary exposure to potential safety hazards.

Account for New Hazards

Post-disaster environments are often less safe and sanitary than normal. Throughout the recovery process, take special care to make employees aware of hazards caused by the disaster that aren’t normally present. If employees do have to work in an area that presents a potential hazard, make sure you provide them with the proper safety equipment.

Preventing Overwork and Exhaustion

It is also important to consider the strenuous nature of recovery efforts. Employees may experience stress from an increased effort at work only to go home at night and have to address their own personal issues resulting from the disaster. Exhaustion and lack of sleep can decrease alertness and impair judgement, placing them at an increased risk for accidents.

To prevent overwork, it is important to ensure that employees receive adequate breaks and aren’t working too many hours. Try to maintain an appropriate number of staff members for any responsibilities created as a direct result of the disaster.

Take into account that normal job functions may have to be reassigned while employees focus on recovery efforts. Set clear priorities for what needs to be accomplished now, while also postponing work that is not a necessity in the short term.

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The content of this Risk Insights is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2011-2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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