Corporate enterprises take many forms, including retail, distribution, insurance, banking, tourism, and hospitality venues. Each brings its own complexities, operational goals and challenges, and moral obligations to the table. Regardless of the genre of these enterprises, the goal of each should be the safety of their people and the mitigation of risk to their property.
Operational concerns take center stage during crisis situations ranging from fires, terrorism, severe weather, workplace violence, and more. The manner in which your organization responds to such events can have a profound effect on the outcome and on you, personally. Your communication strategy will determine your organization’s wellbeing, as well as spell the difference between profit or loss. It is crucial to avoid additional downstream consequences for your organization like lost shareholder value, regulatory penalties, and civil liability.
Almost every week in America we experience an active shooter incident that started as a domestic confrontation which led to killings in the workplace. Some places of work still don’t have policies related to violence in the workplace or how to handle domestic violence that spills into the workplace. Employees spend between one-fifth and one-third of their lives at work. A survey done by the Family Violence Prevention Fund found that 74% of domestic violence victims face harassment from their partners while they’re at work. Having these policies in place helps employees understand that their employer will do what they can to protect employees while at work.
Although no place of work is immune to violence, and we never know when or if someone is going to act, there are certain groups of people at higher risk. OSHA states those who work late night hours or early morning hours are at a higher risk of violence.
Workplace violence is not the only risk. Natural disasters and severe weather can have dire consequences for the sustainability of a business and the safety of employees. R.D. Scinto, a real estate developer, builder, and property management company, understands better than most businesses how devastating the impact of a natural disaster can be on businesses and the buildings they occupy. The company operates more than 30 commercial buildings, serving more than 235 commercial tenants, and maintaining 2.9 million square feet of prime office space in Fairfield County, Connecticut. This corporation has had its fair share of emergency events ranging from severe storms, blackouts, natural disasters, and man-made emergencies. Dave Thomas, R.D. Scinto’s Director of Security and Risk Management, recognized the need for an automated emergency alert system to support its expanding tenant base.
They needed a system that could reach tenants with important updates, anywhere at any time, when emergencies occur. “That could be in the middle of the night, so it becomes difficult trying to reach people.” To ensure there was no confusion while receiving these alerts, R.D. Scinto decided to only use a system when emergency alerts were required.
At the height of the storm, tenants unable to conduct ordinary business operations were desperate for information on when power and other basic services would be restored. “It’s about 300 tenants, all Class A office space, which accounts for about 6,000 to 8,000 employees. We lost power in 12 office building properties in Fairfield County.” Where they would normally receive several dozen calls inbound to find out information, they were able to send out alerts through their emergency notification system to keep their people informed.
With Omnilert, Thomas was able to keep company lines of communication open to handle specific emergencies as well as to gather critical information to pass along to tenants.
Using a mass notification system allows you to send emergency alerts through multiple channels to notify your people. When you have disparate workers and visitors in your facility each day - no matter where the facilities are located - there’s no other choice. You will not reach each person with just a text message or email. Each individual comprehends information differently, so sending alerts and guidance through multiple avenues for them to consume and take action is critical.
With many corporations being very large, communication is so important. You must be able to reach each person regardless of what floor, what location, or which facility they’re located. With a large majority of workers having access to their mobile phones and work computers, many organizations are utilizing these as a way of ensuring redundancy of emergency alerts. Several organizations also have digital signage in offices, meeting rooms, and hallways to relay important messages. During a crisis, it is critical that every line of communication is pursued... simultaneously. The reason for this is twofold.
1. People have different preferred methods of communication. One individual might be more likely to see a notification on their phone while another is more likely to see an alert delivered via a digital sign or desktop.
2. People need more than one notification and call to action. The more ways an individual receives an alert, the more seriously they’ll take the alert.
In some cases, the best crisis response is the one that relies more on automation rather than on the human touch. Incorporating existing technological infrastructure, such as fire and smoke alarms, Blue Light Systems, or police alerts, into your mass notification system can ensure your alert reaches more people at your organization who might not be near their phone or computer.
Emergencies do not happen on a clock. They can happen at any time, anywhere, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Be proactive and prepare. You cannot continue to live the “that’ll never happen at my organization” mentally. The truth is that you don’t know if it will or won’t. The only precaution you can take to protect your organization and your people is to prepare for every emergency scenario that might happen. And then keep people in-the-know when one does occur.
To read more about R.D. Scinto and how they best protect their tenants and staff, download the full case study.