Well-Prepared Employee and Family Plans and Benefits

By Marc Glasser Managing Director, RM LLC | December 09, 2012

Disasters, emergencies, and other types of disruptive incidents, can have a significant impact on organizations and communities. Effective measures can be instituted to prevent or mitigate the effects of disruptive incidents. Referring to private sector organizations, including hotel facilities and supporting offices, that may be located on or off the main hotel property, disruptive incidents can directly affect employees and impact entire hotel operations at both the macro and micro level.

Would you build or renovate a hotel without architectural plans? Absolutely not. For just a moment, think about what would happen if new hotel construction proceeded without architectural plans. The hotel would be structurally unsound, require additional exorbitant expenditures related to hotel building and retrofitting and the hotel would not function as it should. If hotel employees are unprepared for disruptive incidents, with no emergency program or plan in place, hotel operations would figuratively and literally "collapse", resulting in an array of negative outcomes. Less significant outcomes could include chaos, panic, and loss of reputation. Greater negative outcomes could include loss of revenue, decreased hotel company valuation, and loss of property and life.

While generally, first responder assistance will be minutes, or more, away, individual employee preparedness is equally essential, as the "true first responders" will most likely be hotel employees. Effective employee knowledge of how to respond will be based upon a successful Employee and Family Plan Program. Additionally, being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety and associated loss for hotel employees and guests for minimal as well as catastrophic disruptive events. Further, the more prepared the employee is, the easier the transition from the "crisis" back to "normal" operations for the employee as well as employer.

As we understand, well-prepared employees can save lives, safeguard property as well as protect and sustain the hotel's operations and business reputation. The lives that can be saved include hotel employees themselves as well as hotel guests. Further, a well-prepared employee program includes planning and preparation for the employee's family. This helps to ensure that employees working during incidents will feel more at ease, as their families will be instituting preparedness measures, facilitating the protection of loved ones and valuables. During disruptive incidents, this often may make the difference between employees reporting to work or not.

Management support at the highest organizational levels is the foundation of a beneficial Employee and Family Plan Program. This management support establishes, promotes and reinforces a "culture of preparedness". From this culture of preparedness, appropriate resources will be allocated to establish and maintain an effective Employee and Family Plan Program. In a time of full plan activation, the established plans and procedures will facilitate the most appropriate response thus saving lives and property and further promoting the hotel's reputation. This type of plan will further set the hotel apart from its competition. Even if a plan is never fully activated under emergency situations, it will positively affect the bottom line through increasing employee morale - improving customer service, appropriate risk identification, facilitating better relations with external organizations (e.g., law enforcement, fire safety, media, hospitals) and may result in hotel insurance premium reductions.

Instituting an Employee and Family Plan Program will help identify risks in the non-crisis environment, which permits time to develop effective risk mitigation plans to include delineating crisis roles and responsibilities. The risk identification process will help to prioritize the allocation of limited resources where they should be most effective. The risk assessment and mitigation process may have already been performed and prioritized by the hotel's existing security, business continuity, IT or crisis management department. If this is the case, the Employee and Family Plan Program will be based on previous, but up-to-date, information. If no such activities have taken place, the involvement of the associated lines of business will identify key roles and responsibilities that will be valuable and effective well beyond the Employee and Family Plan Program. Plan creation and maintenance will also facilitate contact between the above-mentioned departments as well as human resources, legal and public relations departments.

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