What Matters Now? Disaster Recovery Survey


Assess the content and scope of organizations’ general disaster plans, WorldatWork conducted a survey over several weeks following Hurricane Katrina. The results suggest most organizations have contemplated how they would respond in an emergency, but few plans contain the kind of complex and detailed response that would be required in a large-scale event like 9/11 or a significant natural disaster. According to survey respondents, plans tend to include provisions dealing with continuity of operations such as emergency communication and alternative working arrangements, but appear less likely to address the potential needs of employees. A majority of plans do not provide for emergency evacuation, expanded medical or mental health care, relocation, or housing assistance.

Survey Results

One potential explanation for the absence of these provisions may be that employers leave plans open intentionally to allow for a flexible response tailored to the nature of the disaster and the unique consequences facing their employees. For example, some organizations activate a crisis management team during an emergency that immediately evaluates employee needs and coordinates an appropriate response. Although flexibility may be an essential component of disaster planning, the lack of provisions may ultimately slow response time during critical periods. Perhaps one positive outcome that will arise from this year’s devastating hurricane season will be the heightened emphasis on thoughtful, thorough emergency planning.

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  • 2005
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