CHICAGO--When Hurricane Katrina struck the states near the Gulf of Mexico in August 2005, human resources at Target Brands Inc. was right in the middle of handling the crisis for the well-known retailer.
The company managed to get the cash registers up and running in a very short time, but it was left with the question of who would run them, Terri Howard, who worked for Target then and is now senior director of FEI Behavioral Health in Milwaukee, recalled.
In a crisis, “HR's role is strategic. It is to make sure that your folks are taken care of,” Howard said June 19 at the Society for Human Resource Management's Annual Conference & Exposition.
That has numerous ramifications, she said. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, banks were closed and ATMs weren't working due to power failures, so “we had to fly in cash to pay people, which had implications for compensation,” Howard said. There also were questions about employees with health insurance going to health care providers who were out of network temporarily, she said, and whether the employees would be charged copays.