HR’s role in managing the aftermath of a crisis goes on long after the flames have been put out, according to one director caught up in the Buncefield oil disaster last year.
Helen Andrews, HR director at DSG international, which owns Dixons and PC World, spoke of the huge task the company faced after the massive explosion at the oil refinery hit Dixon’s headquarters only 300 metres away.
More than six billion gallons of fuel went up in flames when the refinery exploded last December on the busiest retail weekend of the year.
Andrews said effective HR was crucial in the immediate aftermath, setting up an emergency website and helpline to tell staff what to do.
“We also played a key role in telling managers how to contact people and identify the key workers,” she said.
However, the challenges did not stop there.
“Two weeks after the explosion, people’s goodwill was at its height. But six months later, morale had gone right down. That’s when you have to work your hardest to keep people going,” said Andrews.