A member of the Community Emergency Response Team assists an injured woman
Main Content

Cross-Train Key Staff to Keep Your Doors Open

July 2021

Does your organization have an employee or volunteer who would make it nearly impossible to complete essential work if they didn’t show up? You may be an expert at your job, but you may also need to know what your co-workers do or have been doing if they’re suddenly unable to work.

Vital team members might need to take a step back if flooding affects their home. During a pandemic, you might be short-staffed due to illnesses or other emergencies.

As part of your organization’s activities around preparing for emergencies, identifying key staff functions and developing strategies to backfill their roles are important steps to take if you want to keep your organization open. FEMA’s Organizations Preparing for Emergency Needs (OPEN) can help. This is a critical part of preparing for a disaster, whether you’re a nonprofit, small business, or faith-based organization.

When approaching the task of cross-training, consider these questions:

  • Which positions at your organization require cross-training?
  • How does your organization keep track of staff trainings, certifications, and qualifications?
  • Does your organization regularly offer opportunities for employees to train in different areas, such as disaster preparation or emergency management and communications?

Make sure you have an organizational chart and update it regularly. The first step in cross-training might be to develop a skills matrix that lists and tracks each person’s capabilities. This tool could be valuable for leaders who need to delegate responsibilities during emergencies. Next, connect with your human resources department to help staff get the training they need to keep your doors open.

Want to learn more about cross-training individuals in addition to taking the OPEN training? Check out these resources:

Cross-training staff is just one of 10 actions organizations can take to ensure they can serve their clients and protect themselves in case of emergency. Learn more about them through FEMA’s OPEN training.

OPEN Now Available in Spanish

Interested in taking or teaching OPEN in Spanish? Now you can! FEMA now offers the web-based training as well as materials for download in Spanish. Please visit ready.gov/open-training for more information!

This article first appeared in the monthly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter. Subscribe here

Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services, or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting FEMA-prepare@fema.dhs.gov