While it may be an extreme example, the October floods in South Carolina show the importance of having an emergency communications plan for inclement weather. And with the winter months quickly approaching, ice and snow in some areas of the country can impact employees’ ability to get to work safely.
It’s not just floods and blizzards. All areas of the country are subject to some type of national disaster that could potentially impact your employees. From wind storms to forest fires to hurricanes to earthquakes, businesses everywhere should have plans to deal with communications during inclement weather.
Why? The answer is simple. Some employees may not know if they’re supposed to report to work if outdoor conditions are dangerous. Some will come in regardless of how bad the outdoor conditions might be, while others may assume a dusting of snow means a day off work.
So how can employers let employees know when they should—or shouldn’t—report to work? An emergency communications plan is key to making operations flow smoothly when the weather is less than favorable.
MAKE A PLAN
First, update your employee handbook. Make certain it contains a business continuity plan that specifically details what will happen to the business during weather-related emergencies.
Think about the weather-related conditions that could affect your area and how your business’s operations could be impacted. As you determine when your business might close and when it might stay open, be certain you understand any liability risks you could face if you ask employees to report to work during bad weather.
Finally, make sure your policy clearly specifies who is to decide if the business will close, who will make the announcement and how. It should also set expectations for how employees should behave during a weather-related scenario. If employees have the ability to work remotely from home, make sure they understand that expectation. Leave nothing to ambiguity. Also, make sure employees know in advance if they will get paid for weather-related closures.
DETERMINE HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH EMPLOYEES
If employees are scattered hither and yon, how will you let them know the office will be closed? Employees who trek to work through ice and snow only to discover the office is closed won’t be happy about the risk they took. Thanks to technology though, it’s easier than ever to let employees know whether they should venture out or stay at home.