Whether you are a business with only a few employees or many employees, human capital is the heart of your business. Identifying the critical functions that your staff performs, and making sure that someone is available to do it, is a key part of surviving a disaster.


Your staff is a vital resource in your business. Their skill and knowledge is critical to your organization’s success. In a disaster, some employees may not be able to come to work. It is important to know ahead of time what tasks must be completed in order for your business to continue in a disaster.

If you created a list of vital business functions in Month 2 (Essential Business Functions), use it now to identify the staff members that you need to complete those functions. They are your key personnel.

A list of essential employees (key personnel) should be included in your emergency plan. Have up to date contact information for them, including alternate phone numbers if possible.

Identify someone else within your organization that may be able to perform their essential job functions if they are unavailable in a time of an emergency.

A succession plan is an important step to defining how you can implement your emergency plan effectively. Your succession plan should allow you to respond quickly and confidently in case leadership or vital staff members are unavailable to perform their essential functions during a disaster. It is important that your organizations leadership, including your management team or Board of Directors, be aware of your succession plan.

Identify what authorities are held by your key personnel. Can they sign checks, hire and fire employees, or enter into contracts? If so, make sure that the person who will replace them in the succession plan is able and prepared to take on those authorities.

Identify your line of succession by utilizing your organization and include this in your formal emergency response plan.

There are often employees in an organization that are experts in specific areas. They may be the only ones who know how to complete specific tasks, or who have information about a specific part of your business. If those employees are not available after a disaster, it could impact your ability to do business effectively. Cross-training employees can avoid that situation. Make cross training part of your regular training program.

In your emergency plan, clearly identify who may need to trained to perform some of the following essential functions, such as, contract, check and purchase order authorization, human resource functions, etc.

Clearly establish rules, procedures, and limitations for when authority is delegated and who can implement these responsibilities. Make sure to incorporate laws and regulations, union contracts, define where authorities come from, and what are the specific guidelines imposed. Build and incorporate all of this into the training and include this information in your formal emergency response plan.

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