If you haven’t watched the show, perhaps you’ve heard of it: “Doomsday Preppers.” This National Geographic Channel program profiles the lives of people who they refer to as “otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it.”
Even as someone who considers himself somewhat prepared for the most likely regional disasters and unexpected business incidents, I find some of these people’s actions a bit excessive and paranoid. The bottom line, though, is that most people profiled on “Doomsday Preppers” are simply working hard to protect their families.
The best part of this show is the attention it brings to emergency preparedness. Why aren’t more American families, businesses, institutions and organizations prepared for disasters and unexpected emergencies?
Without fail, the almighty dollar affects most decisions in a business environment, as well as at governmental entities, public institutions and nonprofit organizations where slashed budgets have a big impact on operations. This is why you see organizations promoting health, safety and well-being every chance they get—employee absenteeism, workplace injuries and poor productivity due to employee fatigue are all costly, problematic issues employers try to address with tools like employer-paid health care, employee assistance programs and subsidized fitness memberships. These are all great benefits for employees, but they’re also in place to protect the overarching well-being of the entire organization.
Why would an organization that employs fellow human beings fail to spend more time, effort and money on ensuring those same employees are able to return to work following a disaster? At least some of the responsibility for employee well-being and safety during times of disaster resides with business leaders, as well as their counterparts running governments and public entities. If a CEO or company president doesn’t take steps to prepare and protect their own family, why should subordinates give a second thought to creating a family emergency kit or home evacuation plan?
Perhaps the mindset is that leaders can more easily recover using monetary means rather than physical preparedness. But digital currency is swiftly replacing paper currency, and access to the former becomes precarious at best when power and internet connectivity are often the first resources to fail. Physical preparedness—disaster kits, evacuation plans and awareness of threats—is critically important, regardless of your socioeconomic status.
Over the past four years as an American Red Cross community educator teaching the “Be Red-Cross Ready” family disaster preparedness program, I have noticed my students are rarely CEOs, presidents or business owners. If a leader were to stand up and proclaim that the resilience of their organization depends on the preparedness of its employees and their families, the motivation to take action could only improve—perhaps dramatically.
Here’s my challenge to business leaders of America: Stop giving in to apathy toward disaster preparedness, and instead embrace the idea of encouraging your employees and staff to take action today. Unlike health care benefits, safety equipment or training, taking the time to educate your employees about how to prepare themselves and their families for disaster doesn’t cost much, and the ROI for your time and effort could be profound—especially during unexpected crises.
Agility Recovery is the Big “I”-endorsed provider of disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. Download our free whitepaper to prepare your employees for the next crisis: “Power to the People: Your Guide to Employee Disaster Preparedness.”
Scott Teel is senior director of communications at Agility Recovery.