It’s normal to feel a bit off-balance after a natural disaster, as many found after the quakes in early November. Here are ways to calm workplace nerves and make sure your emergency plans are ship-shape.
To be healthy and happy at work and beyond, people need to feel safe — and this can be tricky when the earth moves without warning.
Adrenaline levels tend to rise after a quake, making people feel anxious and jumpy. This is normal. And if aftershocks continue, anxiety levels can stay high. Ways to reduce anxiety include:
Managing stress in an emergency (external link) — Ministry of Health
Working together to keep everyone healthy at work will also help your business. Research from Christchurch shows the most important factor in a business surviving a disaster is the quality of the relationships with staff, customers and suppliers.
Staffed or Stuffed: Creating Resilience Through Your People (external link) — Resilient Organisations booklet
If you have staff or share a workplace with others, make sure you have everyone’s contact details, and they have yours.
Talk about how to stay in touch if another disaster strikes. Phone networks can get overloaded and power may be cut after a major disaster, so avoid making calls or relying on email.
Make sure everyone knows the safest place to be in an emergency, whether it’s under a desk, workbench or dropping to the ground. Talk about safety plans, including where and when to evacuate once the immediate danger has passed.
Put up a poster of what to do in an earthquake where everyone can see it, eg in the staff kitchen or on toilet doors. A poster with big illustrations is a good idea.
Drop, cover, hold poster (external link) [PDF, 67K] — Get Ready Get Thru
Check emergency supplies at work. Do you have torches, water and a first aid kit? Encourage your people to each have a go-bag with non-perishable food, warm clothes and sturdy shoes.
Not only is all this a great way to reassure your staff (and yourself), health and safety law says all businesses must be prepared for emergencies.
The recent quakes are a good reminder to think about ways to help your business survive difficult times. Create or refine a business continuity plan (BCP). Think about:
The government’s Get Ready Get Thru website is packed with tips on how to get your business prepared, including downloadable workplace emergency plans.
Get your business ready (external link) — Get Ready Get Thru