"By pushing for a more efficient way to locate employees throughout a catastrophe, GE Appliances was better able to perform hurricane employee wellness checks during the devastating 2017 hurricane season."
GE Appliances security leaders Keith Carpenter, Senior Security Manager, and Stefan Brown, Security Director, presented a webinar on how the company performed hurricane employee wellness checks during the Harvey, Irma and Maria natural disaster events.
Stefan starts off by explaining how GE Appliances’ main goal was to transform their existing employee notification system to go beyond severe weather alerts and into a communication system of the future.
Watch clip 1 of 4 to learn more about why GE Appliances plans to build a better notification system.
Taking a Proactive Stance on Employee Wellness Checks
Keith then jumps in to discuss how his security team took a proactive stance during Hurricane Harvey by using their alerting system to ensure the wellness of employees in their Louisville, KY headquarters. The team worked with Human Resources to identify employees’ contact information that would be used to deliver messages through SMS and email twice a day, requiring that employees respond if they were safe. GE Appliances expanded the employee wellness checks to their facilities in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Puerto Rico for Hurricanes Irma and Maria that struck land shortly after Harvey.
Watch clip 2 of 4 to learn about GE Appliances' lessons learned during Hurricane Harvey and the importance of being proactive.
Learning and Growing Are Part of the Process
One of the most difficult lessons that Keith and his security team learned was the importance of keeping employee contact information up-to-date. The GE Appliances security team ended up scrambling at the last minute before sending out messages to double check that all necessary employees were on the list. GE Appliances is working to resolve this issue through an internal campaign requesting that employees update their contact information. Keith also cautions other facility administrators and security teams to consider the impact of being unprepared for weather or natural disasters and encourages all to leverage the power of technology in these situations.
Another major lesson learned by the GE Appliances security team regarded their needs associated with the alerting system. Keith found there wasn’t an easy way to track the employees that had not responded to the hurricane employee wellness checks, which forced him to manually maintain a list in a spreadsheet of the employees that had responded to identify the ones that hadn’t. This was also a lesson learned for Rave Mobile Safety, the provider of GE Appliance’s mass notification system, and prompted the development of a new polling feature. This polling feature was rolled out in early 2018 and allows Rave Alert customers to send a URL to their contacts that links to a web-based poll, which enables the contacts to confirm their safety and share their web-based location data, if they chose to. Likewise, the Rave Alert polling feature allows HR and safety professionals to more efficiently perform hurricane employee wellness checks.
Watch clip 3 of 4 to learn more about why GE Appliances plans to build a better notification system.
How to Get Started with Mass Notification Systems
An audience member asked how a company could get started with developing and implementing a mass notification system. Keith took on the question and revealed several factors for security leaders to consider before using similar notification systems. Here is the list of factors Keith mentioned:
1. Organization size
2. Scope of your mass notification needs
3. Communication goals
4. Audience or participants (hourly versus salary employees)
5. Control over communication tools (company versus personal cell phones)
6. Determine the overall purpose for the mass notification tool by answering the following questions:
- Is it only for emergencies?
- Will it expand to less urgent business communications?
- Can it be used for polling the employee population?
Watch clip 4 of 4 to learn more about why GE Appliances plans to build a better notification system.
Take Advantage of Close-Knit Employee Communities
One last piece of advice that Keith shared regarding his experience in expanding notification capabilities was what made employee outreach successful in Puerto Rico, even when so many local residents were without power or residents had no form of communication. GE Appliances leveraged the close-knit communities that many employees have built after years of working together. By reaching out to the managers in Puerto Rico and asking them to identify the status of their team members, several employees were accounted for despite the lack of communication available.
Want to learn more?
The full recording of the webinar is about 30 minutes long, but includes additional insight into how GE Appliances successfully navigated employee notifications during three hurricanes. A sneak peek of the interface similar to the one GE Appliances used and an extensive Q&A session are also included. Check it out here or let us know if you’re interested in attending more webinars.
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