Doing the Right Thing: Putting
Associates First in Times of Crisis
By SHAWN BERG
Ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune maga- zine for 11 consecutive years, diversified automotive company, JM Family Enterprises
Inc. (JM Family), is known for best practices. Founded by automotive legend Jim
Moran, and built upon his guiding philos-ophies, including the “3C’s” of communication, cooperation, and consideration, JM
Family considers its staff far more than
employees. We are associates – and, as
instilled by Moran, our company’s “most
important asset.” That fundamental belief
is reflected in both day-to-day operations and how we handle crisis management. This critical function is viewed not
just from the perspective of compliance;
rather, we consider it the right thing to do.
Simply stated, we put both associates and
business continuity first – especially in
times of crisis.
JM Family considers the most important element of any successful crisis
management plan to be caring for associates. Following a crisis, it is only after
we are certain our associates are safe and
accounted for that we focus on enterprise
concerns, including customer service.
This approach is what we are all about.
It makes good business sense and also
benefits the company by building commitment and loyalty. If associates know they
and their families will be cared for, they
are more likely to go that extra mile, and
do whatever it takes to recover business
operations and related technology.
Crisis Management Team
JM Family President and CEO Colin
Brown, and members of the executive
management team, support and participate
in our crisis management team (CMT). In
addition to senior leadership, business-critical enterprise groups, defined as associates who provide services during a crisis,
are also included in all planning. These
groups include human resources, information technology services, and corporate
security, among others. Crisis management is taken seriously at JM Family for
our more than 4,500 associates working in
14 locations across the U.S. and Canada.
Keeping Associates Informed
JM Family has a strong and effective internal communications program.
Throughout the year, crisis communica-
tions are sent to all associates to help them
always be equipped for a crisis or emergency situation. Additionally, hurricane
preparedness “lunch and learns” are presented each year, featuring guest speakers,
such as representatives from the American
Red Cross, and meteorologists from local
news stations. We also print helpful information on “table toppers” displayed in our
cafes, continuously disseminate key messages through our intranet, and provide
useful updates via JMFE-TV, our com-pany-wide internal television system.
Emergency Control Center
We have also established an enterprise-wide four-digit emergency telephone
number. It allows all associates to reach
our emergency control center, which is
manned 24x7x365. Based on the severity
of the crisis, the Center redirects incoming calls to the appropriate enterprise
group. From there, the CMT is engaged on
a secure conference bridge to follow the
plan and make critical decisions. The CMT
shares significant updates via all-associate
e-mails and voicemail messages.
Our associate hotline is an interactive, two-way communications system,
accessed by associates over a dedicated
toll-free number or through an online
system. The hotline broadcasts continuous crisis-related updates to associates and
receives critical feedback from them. At
the core of its design is an 800 telephone
number. Immediately following a crisis,
all associates are required to call, text message, or log on to the Web site and report
their personal safety, home damage status,
etc. The number for the associate hotline is
printed on the back of each associate’s ID
badge so that it is always available.
After the crisis has passed, departmental calling trees are activated and
associates begin to report in. The human
resources department also activates its call
center to contact associates who have not
been accounted for in a reasonable amount
of time. If after several hours there are
associates who have not reported in, volunteer search and restoration teams go to
the associates’ homes to determine their
status. Team members bring with them
company-provided restoration kits to provide associates in need with roof tarps,
food items, flashlights, etc.
66 DISASTER RECOVERY JOURNAL FALL 2009