Post-disaster management of human resources: Learning from an extended crisis

Venkataraman Nilakant, Bernard Walker, Kylie Rochford
April 2013, Resilient Organisations Research Report 2013/03


Disasters are rare events with major consequences; yet comparatively little is known about managing employee needs in disaster situations. Based on case studies of four organisations following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 - 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand, this paper presents a framework using redefined notions of employee needs and expectations, and charting the ways in which these influence organisational recovery and performance. Analysis of in-depth interview data from 47 respondents in four organisations highlighted the evolving nature of employee needs and the crucial role of middle management leadership in mitigating the effects of disasters. The findings have counterintuitive implications for human resource functions in a disaster, suggesting that organisational justice forms a central framework for managing organisational responses to support and engage employees for promoting business recovery.

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