In the past six months, employers and their workforces in the United States have faced an amazing number of emergencies: three hurricanes, power outages, raging wildfires, terror attacks in multiple cities, cyber breaches of data, foreign powers threatening nuclear war, internal dissemination of spam content (real fake news), and uncertainty about tomorrow. 

Are our workforces in a state of readiness to confront, address, and safely react to cyber, terror, weather, and other emergencies? Is the new worker joining the workforce briefed about procedures for an active shooter (in a way that doesn’t completely scare them)? Do your managers have a continuity plan for weather-impacted days or long-term loss of power? What happens to trust in an organization when colleagues are not sure of the immediate future when it comes to any of these issues? 

This is not a simple culture issue. It is not about adding Emergency Readiness to our posters in the office. It is actually a deep and new skill set and measurable competency of the organization, of managers, and of the entire workforce.  

Learning and HR leaders need to add new content, performance support tools, conversations, and readiness measures to their processes. Every large group meeting needs to address important and uncomfortable potential emergencies by asking: 

  • In case of a fire, how will we exit?
  • If someone needs CPR and/or a defibrillator, who is trained and who will be responsible for taking action?
  • If an active shooter comes into the building, how do we get out, take cover, or, if all else fails, take out the shooter?
  • If one of our computers or mobile phones is cyber-intruded, what should we do or not do? 

Readiness can become a key part of what makes working in your organization a positive and safe reality. In many cases, the threats are “out there” and the workplace can be an environment of support and planned continuity. 

When I was seven-years-old, we had nuclear fallout drills at P.S. 173 in Manhattan. We went under our desks for immediate coverage, then into windowless areas, and my family had discussions about who would get me from school in case of an attack. While things are different today, the sense of readiness in 1957 might have to make a re-appearance in 2018. 

Readiness will help our organizations, our employees, and our shareholders. Readiness gives us a structured plan so that we don’t have to struggle to find a common and effective first response. And, readiness can be a gift of love to our community of colleagues and customers. 

Elliott Masie is the CEO of The MASIE Center .

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