SHRM Poll: Disaster Preparedness Plans in Place at Majority of Organizations

September 1, 2011

But only a third of organizations feel well prepared 10 years after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

Alexandria, Va., Sept. 1, 2011 – Ten years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, only one-third of organizations believe they are well prepared for potential threats and disasters even though three-quarters have disaster preparedness plans, a new poll from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows.

While more feel prepared in 2011, only 33 percent of respondents said they believed their organizations were prepared to a great or very great extent. Forty percent indicated they felt prepared to a moderate extent, and 22 percent said to a small extent.

Overall, large organizations (those with more than 2,500 employees) were more likely to be prepared for potential threats and disasters than smaller organizations. SHRM’s poll —September 11th 2001 Attacks and Security—Ten Years Later — indicates an opportunity for smaller organizations to evaluate their preparedness as the country marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“The findings reveal an opportunity for organizations to take a closer look at their disaster preparedness plans to ensure these plans are living documents that translate into protecting the safety of their employees and the continuity of their business operations should disasters strike,” said Evren Esen, manager of SHRM’s Survey Research Center.

Seventy-six percent of organizations reported having formal disaster preparedness plans, a decline from 85 percent in 2005.

When SHRM first polled organizations in 2001 about what to do in an emergency or disaster, 54 percent of organizations said they had a plan in place.

Since then, organizations have been motivated by the terrorist attacks. Sixty-one percent of organizations said in the poll of randomly selected SHRM members that their organizations implemented or updated their plans as a result of Sept. 11, 2001. This was a slight increase from 56 percent in 2005.

Emergency preparedness has included training, business continuity plans and other measures. Almost half of organizations have offered or required more training about crisis and disaster management (48 percent) and developed business continuity plans (47 percent). Other security provisions included:

  • Developing communication plans for emergency situations (42 percent);
  • Installing or upgrading video cameras or closed-circuit television surveillance equipment (37 percent);
  • Monitoring employee e-mail and Internet use (33 percent);
  • Developing backup data storage systems (30 percent).

In an article in September’s HR Magazine, SHRM examines how HR professionals rebuilt companies devastated by the terrorist attacks and what lessons organizations learned in facing the disaster.

For more information on poll findings, visit Follow SHRM’s Research Department on Twitter at and SHRM Media Relations at

Media: For more information, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and or Julie Malveaux at and 703-535-6273.

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.


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