Although there is no road-map for recovery from natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Irma, P&N has experience responding to and supporting employees, clients, and communities in the wake of natural disasters. In August of 2016, P&N had more than 30 employees in South Louisiana who were directly impacted by the Great Flood of 2016, in addition to thousands of clients and friends of our firm.
During that historic flood and other recent natural disasters, P&N used many different tools to assess and respond to the needs of our employees and our clients. These resources are not exhaustive, but we have compiled them into a guidebook in hopes that they may provide you with ideas to help your firm and your community recover, as well as potentially reduce some of the time it takes to organize a response of this magnitude.
This guide is divided into three sections:
If you have any questions about the information in this guide, or need any assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to P&N. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been impacted.
This guide is intended to be a resource for professional services firms and other businesses to determine their own response plans. It is not intended to be professional advice. Please seek professional advice as you consider the tax and legal implications of implementing the ideas included in this guide.
The following section provides options and ideas for organizations to gain information from and distribute information to employees in the wake of a disaster.
In order to immediately understand how to help employees, consider sending a survey to all employees to gauge needs. This can allow you to deploy financial and other resources quickly. A sample survey is included below. If you do not have the resources to create, deploy and track a survey of this nature, contact P&N for assistance.
You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Please help us understand your current needs and how we can assist you.
How and what to communicate to employees can be complicated by technology and connectivity issues, lack of information on where employees are, and the fluidity of the situation. A strong but simple internal communications plan can help ensure employees stay connected.
In addition to basic communication phone trees and emails, some additional communication mechanisms are listed below.
The purpose of this is to provide some types of information employees may need to receive from their employer. If you would like examples of any of these communications, please contact P&N.
The following section provides ideas to assist impacted employees in their recovery, as well as to coordinate the efforts of other employees volunteering to assist.
Impacted employees will likely need immediate financial assistance for expenses such as hotels, cleaning supplies, storage solutions, etc. Companies may consider providing a Disaster Relief Payment for short-term incidental expenses. If you choose to do this, you will need to consider the proper channels for distributing emergency funds so they are not taxable for employees. If you need assistance with this, please let us know. A sample communication is included below.
In addition to immediate financial support, one of the best ways to support storm victims is to provide a mechanism for employees to help their impacted co-workers. Employees want to help, but they often don’t know the best way to contribute outside of writing a check. Companies might consider coordinating efforts in the following areas:
As an example, P&N created an Employee Disaster Assistance Fund to assist employees whose homes, personal property, and/or vehicles were damaged or destroyed in the storm. The fund collected more than $130,000, which went directly to P&N employees. Communications were sent internally within our firm, to the international association of which we are a member, and directly to organizations who inquired about how to help. We did not publicize it to the general community due to the extreme needs being faced by the entire community.
A sample communication is below. If you would like the decision criteria for distributing grants or other information on setting up an employee fund, please contact P&N.
Employee Assistance Fund Sample Communication
Companies might consider pairing employees who need help demolishing and cleaning up their homes with employees and others who want to help. To do this, send an email to all employees asking who wants to volunteer, put them in teams based on locations, coordinate shifts with the affected employees, and deploy the teams on a set schedule.
To provide basic household items, food, and toiletries, companies can survey employee volunteers to determine who wants to assist, and then make assignments for donations or purchases. Donors and recipients should be kept anonymous to each other, as a measure of respect and privacy.
Pantry Starter Set:
The after-effects of the storm are both extremely practical (filing paperwork, securing contractors, buying cleaning supplies) as well as extremely emotional. Several weeks after the storm, you might consider inviting employees who suffered losses to lunch in your office. This allows them to connect with fellow survivors to discuss things they have found helpful as well as things they still need.
Attendees can be encouraged to discuss the following topics, although this should be optional in order to avoid causing undue stress:
The needs of storm-impacted individuals do not stop as the holidays approach, and with so many basic needs still unmet, holiday celebrations are not the most pressing. Companies can consider organizing a toy drive for impacted employees, in addition to any regular holiday charity involvement.
Employees who have children living at home (who have not yet graduated from high school), can be invited to participate by providing the following information:
It is important to let clients/customers know of any office closures and remind them that you are ready to assist them as they recover. To help clients with disaster recovery efforts, P&N provided clients with information and resources on topics such as employer sponsored disaster relief benefits, restoring technology, casualty losses and employee leave sharing. If you would like to share this information with clients, you may find updated resources at www.pncpa.com/resources/flood-impact/. We will continue to add information and resources to this page as they become available.
If you would like more information on any of the information contained in this document, please contact: