While taking steps to prevent an active shooter or other serious incident from ever impacting your business is essential, you can never 100% guarantee that your company will be able to avoid such problems. Because of this, your business continuity plan should also include response, continuity and recovery procedures that help your team know how to respond appropriately should a disaster take place.
Each of your business continuity procedures should be just as detailed as your preventative measures, with clear guidelines to help your team protect company assets, maintain or restore key activities, establish post-disaster communication standards and minimize additional economic or environmental damage related to the incident.
By forming a clear outline for how to respond after an incident of workplace violence, a hurricane or another serious disaster takes place, you can ensure that your business won’t be put through financial turmoil or be forced to close down entirely.
So what factors should you include in your planning for recovery from a major security event? The following areas are a good place to start:
Before disaster strikes, you need to conduct an accurate risk assessment for your business. Are you aware of the human and environmental threats that could harm your company? The more you know, the easier it will be to implement policies that protect your staff, customers and bottom line before, during and after an incident.
For example, during a recent risk assessment of a manufacturing firm, it was learned that they were not keeping track of the keys to their facility. Keys that opened doors to the facility had been passed down over the years without any accountability, creating a situation where management had no idea how many keys were out there or who was in possession of them. Understanding the risks they now faced – and would continue to face — the company realized they needed to take immediate action to mitigate this risk before a serious problem impacted their facility. Incidentally, this was not a cheap fix!
Of course, such assessments should be reviewed on a yearly basis to account for changing risk factors in your area, new technologies, and other issues that could impact the effectiveness of your security and business continuity planning.
One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of business continuity planning is finding a place to conduct business after a disaster occurs. If your facility becomes a crime scene, it could be closed for an extended period of time. Police may restrict access to key parts of your business or potentially not let you access the property at all.
As such, you need to determine adequate backup measures that will allow you to continue to provide services to your customers even when facility access has been restricted. Establishing an off-site command post where you can deal with the event’s aftermath and temporarily manage day-to-day business tasks can minimize disruption. Making allocations that allow employees to work remotely can also keep productivity up.
In the wake of a security incident, clear communication is essential to prevent further negative consequences. Your business will undoubtedly be bombarded with questions from media, law enforcement and others. The wrong words could easily generate a PR disaster for your company. Prepare yourself by designating a media contact who can stay calm under pressure.
Maintaining communication with employees should also be a top priority. As part of your physical security planning, you should already have a communication system that allows you to quickly contact and warn employees during an incident. Utilize this system to maintain contact after the incident to keep employees informed regarding plans, expectations and resources. Free mobile apps such as WhatsApp, which offers end-to-end encryption, could provide that communication piece you’re currently lacking.
Individuals who escape physical harm after an active shooter incident are often left with long-lasting emotional and psychological issues, including PTSD. It is essential that you provide the necessary support to your employees in the wake of a violent incident. This not only helps them deal with their trauma, but it can also ensure that absenteeism and decreased work performance don’t further harm your business.
While many companies utilize an employee assistance program (EAP) to help staff members deal with emotional problems, it is worth considering additional resources you could use to provide this support to your team. Your current EAP provider may not be able to handle the high volume of employees who need counseling or stress debriefing following an incident. Plan ahead by identifying other counselors and support staff who can help during those first 24 to 72 hours after the disaster.
In addition to providing this form of direct psychological support, an established relationship with a physical security provider can also help employees feel better after a disaster. Requesting additional security personnel and other improvements can give much-needed peace of mind when your employees return to work.
To restore a sense of normalcy and get your business up and running again, you’ll need to act swiftly to clean up any physical damage that took place as a result of the security incident. There are a wide range of physical issues that could affect your business after a major security event, ranging from destroyed computer systems and damaged walls to a potentially dangerous biohazard spill.
Because the cleanup issues facing your business can be so varied, you should take steps to vet a wide group of vendors who can help restore your facility in the wake of a disaster. Office supply providers, natural disaster cleanup teams, and repair contractors are just a few of the services that may be necessary to restore your facility to its original condition. By vetting these services in advance, you’ll be able to act swiftly so that you can start using your facility sooner rather than later.
When you read stories about shootings and other incidents of workplace violence, it can be tempting to think that such things would never happen to your company. While it’s true that your company could be one of the fortunate few that manages to avoid a major security event, the last thing you need is for such an incident to catch you entirely unprepared.
By making business continuity planning a central part of your company’s security measures, you’ll be able to recover effectively, no matter what might come your way.