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 November 19, 1999

Computers ready for Y2K? How about employees?

I often hear businesses say that their company is Y2K “compliant”. The word compliant means something different to every business, but it usually means their computers and software will work in the year 2000. They tell me they have nothing to worry about. In our arrogance, we perceive ourselves to be invincible and immune to problems that will affect everyone else … never us.

It is fascinating that businesses have forgotten the most important aspect of their business … their employees. Without employees, businesses would cease to exist. Yet you rarely hear what steps businesses are taking to ensure their most important resource — people — will be prepared for Y2K or any emergency and therefore report to work when needed.

Businesses can suspend vacation time and personal leave during the last week of December and the first week of January. They can mandate certain “critical” employees report to work. But what if there is civil unrest because of Y2K problems with food and transportation. Will your critical employees report to work if they did not have emergency supplies for their family? Or they failed to connect with their neighbors to create a safety net for their families? Or they are a single parent and will not leave their children to come to work? Have businesses made provisions for on-site day care, should the need arise?

Businesses have not treated employee emergency preparedness as an important issue, and there is very little time left to do so. This lack of understanding about the importance of employee preparedness will have an immediate impact on businesses if there are Y2K problems.

Many folks say they don’t want to “create a panic” by talking about Y2K. CU Natural Hazards Department can help businesses understand that people do not panic when they have information. They panic when they do not, and something unexpected happens. Did anyone see people panicking when they were told Hurricane Floyd was coming? No … they prepared.

Y2K is a strange creature. Personal opinions run rampant in their estimation of the impact of Y2K. The powers that be are rushing to assure everyone that it will be “a bump in the road,” a “non-event”. When you ask them if they can guarantee this, their immediate response is “NO”. The fact that it may have any impact should be of concern to business owners. Why else have businesses nationwide spent $100 billion so far on remediation and testing?

The reason is simple. No one knows what will happen with Y2K, particularly since it does not just occur on Jan. 1. Y2K is so complex and interconnected to the entire world that it might take days, weeks or months for our community to understand or feel the full impact of Y2K.

The only assurance you have that your business will continue to function during Y2K or any emergency, is if your employees are personally prepared. Y2K is not about computers. It’s about people. Make sure your employees are “compliant” as well as your computers.

Kathy Garcia is the executive director of the BCY2K Community Preparedness Group.

I often hear businesses say that their company is Y2K “compliant”. The word compliant means something different to every business, but it usually means their computers and software will work in the year 2000. They tell me they have nothing to worry about. In our arrogance, we perceive ourselves to be invincible and immune to problems that will affect everyone else … never us.

It is fascinating that businesses have forgotten the most important aspect of their business … their employees. Without employees, businesses would cease to exist. Yet you rarely hear what steps businesses are taking to ensure their most…

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