Don’t Forget the Human Side of Business Continuity

Man grieving over destroyed house
When Hurricane Katrina struck, it left entire cities along the Gulf Coast devastated. Those who hadn’t evacuated were forced to find food when groceries and restaurants were closed, a cool place to sit when the AC was out in the sweltering South, and a place to bathe when there was limited to no running water. What are the odds of successfully implementing your business continuity plan after that? Surely employees aren’t going to work under those conditions, right? Not so for the employees of a bank branch in Pascagoula, MS.

The company’s building had flooded, so it had a Mobile Banking Center deployed. Employees showed up to work to help customers cash their FEMA checks. This service was critical to a community in need, and the branch was the only place in town providing it. The employees even brought their families to work to take advantage of the air-conditioned space. When your business experiences a regional disaster, how do you activate your business continuity plan if your employees are busy dealing with their own personal emergencies? Should you expect them to come to work? The human element of business continuity can’t be ignored.

To ensure your business continuity plan is compatible with your employees’ and community’s needs, make sure you know the answers to these questions:


  • Which of your services do they value most?
  • How can you help during a crisis?
  • Will you help a community in crisis even if your business is not in crisis?
  • If yes, what would that look like?


  • Which of your services do they value most?
  • How far are they willing to drive or wait to get this service if your community is in crisis?
  • How long would they wait for the service before they went to a different company?
  • Do they have any family who would be impacted as well?

The ideal business continuity plan will merge the goals of the business, community and employees to create a situation in which everybody wins. The bank in Pascagoula was able to successfully implement its business continuity strategy during a massive catastrophe because its business continuity planners weren’t just focused on the business’s goals — they knew what the bank’s employees and community needed and found a way to meet those needs. Employees were happy to come to work because they knew they were providing their neighbors with a critical service and offering a sense of stability in the midst of a volatile time. The bank was able to keep its doors open, the community received desperately needed FEMA money, and employees didn’t have to neglect their families to perform their duties.

Does your business continuity plan accomplish your goals as well as those of your employees and your community? Let us know in the comments.

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