We at In Order to Succeed pride ourselves on helping our clients be prepared. When you think about protecting your business, you can never be too prepared.
It’s not something we’d like to think about, but it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of a terrorist attack. Like sickness and accidents, terrorism is a harsh reality of the world in which we live and while attacks in the past may have seemed to be something that happened “over there,” we now see them in America: from Oklahoma City and The World Trade Center to the recent standoff in Oregon.
As with any anxiety-causing situation, sometimes the mere process of confronting reality and coming up with a plan can be enough to quiet the mind and allow us to move on to other things. And, at the end of the day, even if it never happens—it is always a good idea to be prepared. While we are not going to focus on building a bunker, we do believe that there are things businesses can do to be ready in the event that an attack.
Main Street Terrorism
The Paris and Sydney attacks have caused us to rethink what terrorism looks like. Not the grand gesture of 9/11 but smaller, coordinated attacks that target citizens going about their day—drinking coffee, meeting for drinks, eating dinner, shopping. Small businesses can take measures to improve their readiness in the unlikely event that an attack like this occurs.
Have A Team
Every small business should have a dedicated group of staff who have volunteered to serve on an emergency committee. This will guarantee that they are invested, interested, and the type of employees who will help make your plan feasible. Be sure to:
- Include personnel from every department. An understanding of the physical area of an office is tantamount in emergency planning.
- Include personnel from every demographic. Age, gender, ability—all of these factors must be accounted for during a crisis. Make sure that you are prepared to meet the needs of staff.
- Include field staff, freelancers, temporary staff. If you have a headquarters and field offices, make sure that you don’t forget to represent your field offices on your team. The worst message you can send to employees is that only the headquarters (where management is likely housed) is on their mind when it comes to preparation. Make sure that you engage temps and even those who work remotely in the plan—even if it’s simply to provide remote staff with a copy of the plan. Who knows, they might have insight into your businesses preparedness.
- Make this a priority. Many employees feel “committed to death.” Be sure to use time wisely, preparing an agenda for the next meeting at the end of each meeting and only meet if necessary. Consider compensation or a perk for members but only provide this after volunteering. Be sure to recognize and thank the members of your emergency team—this can be one of the most stressful parts of a job.
- Seek an outside resource to help with a safety assessment. Depending on the municipality many times a city, county or town employee, fire chief, police officer or other civil servant will be willing to help
Make A Plan – Necessary Inclusions and Resources
Let’s face it: this applies to everything. Whether it’s a blizzard that shuts down a city, a massive power outage or a terror attack businesses should have a plan to handle the crisis and then get back to work as soon as possible. A major motivation of Main Street Terrorism is disruption to lives and the economy, thus a plan to get back is a way to thwart these attacks. What should a plan entail? And who should you include outside of your organization?
A good plan includes:
- How to stay open. As much as your natural instinct might be to send employees to be home with their families, keeping open through a crisis is encouraged by experts. Ready.gov, America’s primary resource on preparedness for natural and manmade disasters ranks this first in its list of how to prepare your small business for a crisis.
- How to reopen as quickly as possible. Sometimes you can’t stay open during a crisis. Getting your business operating as quickly as possible accomplishes many things that are beneficial to a community in crisis: it establishes a sense of normalcy, boosts the economy, and restores routine. Whether you stay open or reopen quickly, a way to accomplish this is
- A list of essential staff. Who are the people who are absolutely essential to operations and could keep things running or get them back running as quickly as possible? What it comes down to is staffing with the people who have the core skills to run your business’ general workflow. With a large enough group you can cover the workflow but not require everyone to get to the office. Alternating days or half days, allowing for remote work, and finding other creative ways to schedule can keep things running, if lightly.
- Adherence to local, state and federal ordinances and directions. Be sure to have contingencies in your emergency plan for things like curfews and restrictions on driving. No employee should ever enter unsafe conditions. Some tried and true contingencies include:
- If the municipality where the office is located or an employee lives or must drive through is ordered to stay off the road, employees should follow this.
- If there are plumbing, electrical, heating issues employees should not report.
You don’t have to prepare alone or reinvent the wheel. There are excellent resources online and where you work to help you.
Reach out to:
- Local police, fire, and government officials. Many will provide training to staff, assess your exits, and help you design your plan.
- Other businesses in your office. If you have one or more suites in a building, reach out to the building manager and other companies in your building. Review your plans together, see where you can work together in the event of a crisis, see what they caught that you did not.
Don’t forget, these strategies work for a business and In Order to Succeed is here to help you define and execute the suggestions above. Coming next, we will discuss strategies and resources to work with members of your household, including staff members, to make a plan for your residence in the event of a crisis or other emergency.