Are your employees prepared for a disaster, like Hurricane Matthew?

It’s 8 am on a Friday morning – a little overcast, but nothing out of the ordinary. You’re at your desk leisurely sipping a tall Americano, trying to keep your eyes open as you sift through about a hundred emails that have flooded your inbox since the night before. Suddenly, an incoming message, marked “URGENT,” jolts you to attention. It’s a hurricane alert. The status has been upgraded to a Category 4 and it’s changed course. The storm is moving more quickly than anticipated and now it’s expected to make landfall, heading straight in the direction of your primary distribution center and flagship store. As head of safety, you need to inform all staff to start evacuating the premises. Otherwise, their lives will be at risk. On top of this, you need to make sure employees, who are scheduled to come in later that day and on the weekend, don’t make the trip. You can’t jeopardize anyone getting caught in the wake of the deadly storm.

You need to contact the management at each of these locations and get the ball rolling, but inside, you’re stressed to the max. You know it’s been 11 months since they last took disaster preparedness training and it’s likely they won’t remember all the correct safety procedures. Plus, you’ve got about 750 workers on staff who don’t have a corporate email account and you need to contact—fast—to ensure everyone receives the proper emergency communication. What do you do?


While storms like, Hurricane Matthew, aren’t something that happen every day, weather-related disasters are becoming more of a norm. A 2015 report by the UN, “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters,” shows the US was hit by the highest number of floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events (totally 472) during 1995-2015.

You’d think that would mean organizations are uber prepared. But that’s not the case. The Disaster Recovery and Preparedness Council says only a third of companies test their disaster preparedness plans once or twice a year, while 23 percent never test their plans at all. That means three out of every four companies are at risk because they have not trained employees properly for disaster recovery.

To be blunt, what’s the point of having an action plan if no one knows how to take action—instinctively? If you don’t get critical information into the minds of your employees who need to execute on it, you’ll have an even larger disaster on your hands and significant repercussions, including the potential for lost lives.

In the face of an emergency, there’s no time to dig out the 100-page manual from the bottom of the filing cabinet, read through all the procedures and figure out who does what. Employees need to know the proper way to handle the situation like the back of their hand, so when a disaster does occur, panic doesn’t set in and cause them to freeze. Everyone needs to feel confident in their knowledge, so they can act quickly and effectively while keeping calm and in control.

If employees never review the information in the plan or only get a refresher once a year, they won’t know what to do. It’s just the nature of how the human brain works. What isn’t repeated isn’t remembered. But, it’s not just that. The reality is no one needs to memorize the entire manual. Employees just need to know the parts that apply to them. So, why give everyone the same in-depth training? This only increases the risk that they they’ll feel overwhelmed and won’t focus on the steps that are part of their responsibility.

The best way to keep emergency procedures top of mind, and tailor the right preparedness training to the right people, is to implement microlearning that’s personalized and adaptive to their role. When your employees use a microlearning platform to take training 3-5 minutes a day, or even several times a week, they can refresh their disaster preparedness training in small chunks all throughout the year. So, when disaster strikes, they’ll remember exactly what to do to help ensure everyone’s safety. Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than putting employees in a room for a one-off training session as their attention drifts to thoughts of dinner or the hot date they have that night?

South Eastern Grocers (SEG)—parent company of BI-LO, Harvey’s and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, and headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida—is one example of a company where regular microlearning for disaster preparedness is paying off. The company is facing Hurricane Matthew head on as I write this post. But, because SEG uses Axonify to prep employees for disasters through regular microlearning throughout the year, plus recertifies employees located at all the large generator stores before hurricane season starts in June, impacted SEG employees know exactly how to inspect emergency generators and fuel tanks, and are completely prepared for Hurricane Matthew.

Now, back to the scenario presented at the beginning of this post. If you were head of safety, wouldn’t you feel better if your staff had regular training so they knew exactly how to respond in the face of disaster? The outcome would be completely different if employees knew how to take the correct actions at work. And what about the question regarding how you would alert all the employees on staff of an emergency without missing anyone on the team? Well, here’s the answer: If you had a microlearning app that all your employees—from warehouse workers to retail associates—could access at kiosks on the distribution floor, via mobile devices, or through store POS systems, you could push alerts out immediately to let them know instantly about an emergency and how to respond.

Axonify does just that!

As a process person, she loves nothing more than taking a business and transforming it from obscure to renowned and beyond. She takes the reins on Axonify’s strategic alliance marketing efforts that put the company on the map.

Looking for more information? We’d love to talk.