At the time this column was written, the economy is a disaster. The government is faced with critical issues. The financial industry is in shambles. The U.S. automobile industry is having trouble selling cars and trucks, even with gasoline priced below $2 per gallon. The retail industry is having trouble meeting its profit objectives. The country as a whole is in trouble. The decisions of the new president’s administration will hopefully reduce the problems and the overall gloom in the country.
What does this economy have to do with business continuity planning?
Prior to the holidays, the experts were predicting the worst retail sales in decades. They were predicting that if stores didn’t do well between “Black Friday” and the “After Christmas” sales, there will be numerous layoffs, store closings, and even companies declaring bankruptcy.
Since this column is being written just before the holiday season, I won’t know if the sales were as bad as the predictions or not.
Business Continuity Program – ‘Warning’
This being the case, I would like to address a potential result of the poor economy to some companies. Some of these terminated (laid-off) employees will be so upset that they will take their frustrations out on the management of the company that terminated them. For example:
- On Nov. 16, 2008, Santa Clara police arrested a 47-year-old man suspected of killing three former coworkers at a Silicon Valley Technology company. The shootings at SiPort Inc. were the result of a dismissal. The week before the shootings, the accused killer had been dismissed from his job as a product test engineer. The victims were the company’s CEO, the V.P. of operations, and the head of human resources.
- In August of 2008, an ex-employee shot and killed two men outside the Simon & Schuster warehouse, where he used to work. The killer had worked at the warehouse as a forklift operator. He felt he was unfairly reprimanded on the job in March 2008, causing him to quit in April. He told police that he had to pay his rent Friday and was desperate, so he returned to his former job in a convoluted scheme to make money.
You, the business continuity professional, should ensure your organization’s business continuity program considers workplace violence to be a major risk now! Hopefully I’m wrong about the terminated employees’ response. But if workplace violence incidents actually occurred you would have helped your organization to minimize the potential or respond rapidly and properly.
While I’m speaking of a “warning,” there was an interesting article Nov. 28, 2008, for the citizens of Arkansas. A series of small earthquakes have rattled central Arkansas in recent weeks. These quakes generally occur in the state’s northeast corner, part of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, where three temblors with magnitudes of around 8 struck during the winter of 1812 (and smaller ones continue today). But central Arkansas does not have any seismic history. It could be a sign of something much bigger to come. “The potential for generating a high-magnitude earthquake is real,” said Haydar Al-Shukri, director of the Arkansas Earthquake Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. We need to carefully watch this activity.”
Review of the Atlantic Hurricane Season
The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, which ended Nov. 30, set some interesting records.
- Six consecutive storms — Dolly, Eduard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike — struck the U.S. mainland, something that had not been seen in recorded history.
- It’s also the first time a major hurricane, those with winds of at least 111 mph, formed in five consecutive months, July through November.
- Bertha spun about for 17 days, making it the longest lived storm in July.
- Rain-heavy Fay was the only storm to hit the same state — Florida — four times, leaving heavy flood damage in its wake.
- A record three major hurricanes smacked Cuba – Gustav, Ike, and Paloma.
Review of the 2008 Tornado Statistics
As of Sept. 17, 2008, 2,064 tornadoes have been reported in the United States (of which at least 1,298 have been confirmed). This statistic already makes 2008 the deadliest year in the country since 1998. The details on damage losses are not available at this time.
In my column in the last issue of the DRJ magazine I discussed an incident at Downey Savings. I mentioned that Downey Savings delayed cashing the government’s bereavement checks for the parents of Mark Retmier, a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan.
I guess Downey had other more important problems. It was announced on Nov. 22, that Downey Savings & Loan was being acquired by U.S. Bank of Minneapolis, Let’s hope that the U.S. Bank of Minneapolis has a different policy on bereavement checks.
Ed Devlin, CBCP, has provided business recovery planning consulting services since 1973 when he co-founded Devlin Associates. Since then, Devlin has assisted more than 300 companies in the writing of their business recovery plans and has made more than 800 seminars and presentations worldwide.
"Appeared in DRJ's Winter 2009 Issue"