Empathia Publishes New White Paper to Help Organizations Prepare for a Natural Disaster

Milwaukee, WI (May 2, 2012) — Even if your company hasn’t been affected by the tornados in Minnesota, tsunami waves on the West coast, or wildfires in Texas, all employers need to be prepared for the havoc that natural disasters cause. In a new report, “Eight Steps Employers Should Take to Prepare Their Workplace for a Natural Disaster,” Empathia offers specific tips to improve workplace disaster recovery and readiness plans.

“It’s a mistake to think natural disasters can’t happen to you,” says Joseph J. DesPlaines, an enterprise risk management expert at Empathia and author of the paper. “The end result of natural disasters can be devastating, both in terms of how a blackout or unsafe building can impact the workplace, as well as the emotional toll of the disaster on employees. Don’t wait until a disaster strikes to start preparing your emergency response.”

Over the past 10 years, in the wake of several large-scale man-made and natural disasters, many organizations have vastly improved their disaster recovery and readiness plans. But recent incidents, such as the one-two punch of the East Coast earthquake and hurricane, have provided valuable lessons for risk management professionals that continual improvement of disaster recovery and readiness plans is needed.

The new Empathia white paper recommends:
• Companies involve all employees — not just leaders — in the development, testing and improvement of emergency response plans.
• Companies prepare for simultaneous disasters, devising multiple routes of escape and identifying multiple layers of people in emergency response positions.
• Determining how to disseminate crisis notification to the entire workforce and identifying multiple communication methods.
• Putting a “check-in” system in place to ensure a coordinated evacuation, assembly and accounting process.
• Communicating and coordinating with other local businesses to make sure plans don’t clash but are complementary.
• Recognizing that employees will view family as their top priority in a crisis. Therefore, employers should ensure that disaster recovery/business continuity plans include modified work schedules, flexible leave and crisis counseling. Counseling should be extending to employees’ families as well.
• A crisis debriefing to inform employees about where and how to get help. A quality employee assistance program can provide this service.
• Conducting a post-even analysis to solicit employees’ assessments about the emergency response plan.

“The emotional toll on employees after a natural disaster cannot be overestimated,” explains DesPlaines. “Even employees not directly affected by a disaster can experience unexpected mental health consequences and difficultly adjusting to the `new normal’ that follows a crisis.”

“Eight Steps Employers Should Take to Prepare Their Workplace for a Natural Disaster” can be downloaded at http://www.empathia.com/whitepapers/20120502.php.

About Empathia, Inc.
Empathia provides behavioral health solutions that improve the well-being, safety and productivity of organizations and individuals. The company collaborates with private and public sector entities from expansive Fortune 500 corporations to small businesses in addressing a diverse range of needs: employee assistance, disaster response and planning, work-life balance, employee relations, leadership development, training and benefits support. Founded in 1982 under the name NEAS, Empathia has distinguished itself as a quality leader dedicated to creating a superior customer experience for both client organizations and employees. For more information, visit http://www.empathia.com.


Media Contacts:

Carrie Reuter
Empathia, Inc.

Beth Brody
HRmarketer for Empathia