Every business continuity program includes a number of employees who do not support time sensitive business functions. These employees are not assigned seats in the alternate recovery site; are not expected to work from home; and, are not targets to relocate to other locations. In general, these employees are asked to “stand-down” during the business interruption event until such time as an interim work location is established or the production facility is restored and ready for re-occupancy.
Many programs will note that these employees may be called upon to perform other emergency response and/or restoration activities to help the company respond to and recover from the event that caused the business interruption. And some programs go as far as to include information in their employee databases regarding special skill-sets or other attributes (such as, whether or not they have four-wheel drive vehicles) to consider on how to possibly re-deploy these individuals to help in this regard.
I also like to caution management not to forget about these employees as they will soon be concerned about their status in the company; whether or not they still have a job; and, what their compensation status is while they “stand-down”. History has shown that if management does not keep these individuals informed of their status and periodically communicate with these individuals they will start calling in and hunting you down to give them the answers and reassurances they are looking for.
Most HR plans fall short of defining an absolute policy with regards to how these employees will be addressed during an outage, other than to establish it as a task that they evaluate the situation, make a case-by-case determination as to how the situation will be handled and define the tools and means to communicate that to the employees. All in all, I believe that this is a valid strategy and position to take.
I am working with one organization that is considering taking this to another level with a program that, I think, is very creative and resourceful. This organization is considering establishing a position in their Crisis Management Program responsible for organizing a Community Response and Relief Team to provide whatever assistance and relief they can to others in the community that may have been impacted by the event that caused their business interruption. This team would be comprised of “stand-down” employees who volunteer to be members of this program. This type of program may be similar to and could possibly draw upon the practices employed by airlines’ CARE programs for responding to an aviation disaster and providing compassionate assistance to impacted families from the incident.
This idea is still just on the drawing board but it is an idea that I thought others might wish to consider and, perhaps, something others have already implemented. If anyone is willing to share their ideas on this or can share examples of where it has been implemented, we would love to hear from you.
I, for one, would like to see this idea come to fruition at this organization and would love for it to catch on at others. I will start exploring this option at other organizations I work with should the opportunity present itself.