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Friday, January 14, 2011

HR’s Role in Disaster Preparedness & Recovery

January is HR Month! It is also a good time to review all company policies and procedures from a proactive management standpoint. I think it's important to determine how prepared your organization and your employees are for natural or unnatural disasters such as what recently happened in Arizona. A few years ago many employers were hit hard by tornadoes here in Springfield and a shooting at our state's capitol and our mall all of which caused many organizations to more urgently considering disaster planning.

Just as an example, during the tornadoes in Springfield, some businesses were completely wiped out, some had major damage, and some went without power for several days. One thing they all had in common was what to do with employees who could not perform their regular jobs. Did companies have a plan to pay employees? Did they have a plan in place to assign tasks to be completed? Was there sufficient communication early enough for employees to know what to do, or did they receive instructions to not come in to work?

These Human Resources related issues should be included in your overall company strategy for disaster preparedness and recovery. When disaster strikes, HR and/or management personnel need to be prepared and have a plan in place. According to the previous Disaster Preparedness surveys by the SHRM Foundation, 15 percent of the companies who responded did not have a plan and many of those who did, had outdated plans. This varied by organization size. For example, small organizations of 100 or less who did not have a plan in place increased from the 15 percent average to 30 percent.

One small business owner I spoke with after the storm in Springfield had to completely relocate his business to a temporary location to just get by. His employees were working long hours to clean up the mess, and move the equipment and the office. He had to scramble for a location, with another business owner, just days after the storm hit. He moved twice in a few weeks to get by. Preplanning quite possibly could have averted some of the stress experienced by this business owner and his employees.
Know the who, what, when, where and how to keep your company viable. OSHA already requires staff training and to have documented Emergency Evacuation Plans, Exposure Control, and Hazardous Communication Plans in place.

Questions every employer should have answers to are: How do we communicate with employees? Do we have an emergency number for them to call? Perhaps a cell phone? Is there a phone tree set up for management to make calls to their employees and are these phone numbers kept off site? Should they be listening to a designated radio or TV station for information? Are payroll records backed up on a server off-site so we can pay employees if forced to relocate to another building? Personnel records should always be maintained in a locked, fire-safe cabinet that is structurally sound. How are we going to handle situations where the business is fine, but employees have been impacted dramatically by the disaster? The loss of homes, family members, power, transportation, etc., could affect employee attendance.

These are just a few topics to consider when determining how you might manage your human resources in a disaster situation. Are you ready - are your plans up-to-date? If not, you might want to consider drafting a plan or policy for the possibility of another disaster, and sooner rather than later. No one wants to experience conditions like those faced by employers all over the country without having a plan. Having a plan in place could make a big difference in how devastating another disaster might be.

A great site I recommend is

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

About Me & About My ISC-SHRM Goals for the next 2 Years

Today, being the fifth day on the job as the new State Director for Illinois State Council of SHRM, I thought I would share a few words. No, really our social media director, @DaveTheHRCzar, gave me a little nudge. I have plenty of time to write for our blog site among the overwhelming list of “to do’s on my desk from paid jobs not to mention our upcoming state Leadership Conference this Monday. So, I will be brief!

First, I would like to share a little about my SHRM volunteer responsibilities over the years leading up to my current position on the state council. I joined our local chapter, CIC-SHRM, in the mid-90s and that’s about as clear as my memory gets. What I do know is that in 1997 I became active on the chapter board and joined SHRM in 1998 as a strongly encouraged requirement for being a board member. Before that I did not know anything about the national organization. In 2001, while still being involved in my chapter for another four years I joined the Illinois State Council and have been active ever since. Here is a rundown of the positions I have held in order but I can’t exactly remember the dates. Those 20 years in HR is starting to show!

• Public Relations/Publicity Chair (newsletter)
• Legislative Director (started the first chapter Legislative Conference)
• Vice President/Programs Director
• President-Elect/SHRM Foundation Director
• President (2 year term)
• Outgoing President (finishing in 2005)
• Since then the Chapter Librarian

• Conference Co-Chair (2 years representing my chapter with another state chapter)
• Conference Chair (they made it an official board position)
• Diversity Director
• Director-Elect/SHRM Foundation Director
• Now! Director

Second, I’d like to share a few goals that I would like our state council to achieve during my two year tenure as Director. I have to admit these goals are prior to my looking at the SHAPE plan. So I am sure it will grow. Also, this is prior to meeting with our core council board this weekend which may affect the finalized list and work plan as we move forward (so this is tentative but I don’t doubt I will get support from the board):

  1. 100% Chapters signing the ESGR Statement of Support (;
  2. Build SHRM Affiliate Chapters in the Southern part of the state (working on 3 already);
  3. Increase awareness of ISC-SHRM & SHRM resources among all state legislators (with SHRMs help as one of the 10 states they plan to work with this year);
  4. Reach 1000 attendees at our annual conference (in Aug at Drury Lane in Oakbrook);
  5. Reach 100 attendees at our 1st Annual Legislative Conference (last year was our inaugural event);
  6. 100% Chapter participation in the annual Chapter Basket Raffle Fundraiser at State Conference;
  7. Develop a formal Succession Plan with the assistance of a Nomination Committee to be appointed;
  8. Finalize and implement a formal strategic plan started at last year’s Leadership Core Planning meeting;
  9. Finalize and implement an updated Website which was started last year; and
  10. Analyze our financial situation and develop a backup plan to sustain our council and support our mission for a year or two in case our income is impacted (primarily our attendance at annual conference).
Finally, I just want to say thank you to all those I have met and worked with along the way and to those I will continue to work with on the board and in the chapters. I look forward to meeting all the HR leaders in the state because there are so many of you! I am humbled to serve you over the next couple years and want you to know that my virtual door is always open. Call or text me at 217-414-1297, email me at, DM me on twitter @HRWarrior or Skype me at donnarogerssphr. I look forward to working with you!