‘Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.’
This unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service isn’t exactly a sentiment shared by Irish workers across the country right now. This week employers and employees nationwide are recovering from last week’s Storm Gareth which left almost 2,000 homes and businesses without power and Irish winds reaching average speeds of up 130km/h. In conditions like these, is the work commute ever worth it?
While last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ showcases our love for weather-related drama, severe weather is no laughing matter, and the more dangerous it is considered, the more it leaves employees and employers alike wondering whether to stay at home or batten down the hatches.
Is your business ready to dig out your inclement weather policy and update it? Let’s delve into the challenges for both parties and discuss how to shore up your business against the vagaries of the elements.
Benefits of a Standard Procedure
Risk management can slip on your list of priorities when so many other things need immediate attention but setting expectations on snow-day policies will upkeep your productivity as well as your company morale when things get out of control.
- Create a Standard Procedure
Having a clear understanding with employees about your official procedure will pay dividends for your company culture when disaster inevitably strikes. Besides the sheer inconvenience, storm days put serious financial and social pressure on employees. Staff will struggle to financially justify using a holiday or forfeiting that day’s pay altogether so clear expectations are key and will avoid unnecessary risks.
- Payment on Days Off
Exempt employees rely on you to make the right call on a snow day. It is your prerogative to keep the business open or shut and if the former, absentees can’t legally cite the weather as a valid reason for not arriving to work and will not get paid. If someone takes a risk to get to work and finds it closed, or are refused payment for staying at home, it's not a good look for your HR team. Finding alternative work procedures or making a reasonable call to shut the office in dangerous conditions is vital
- Out-of-Office Communication
Rather than frantically digging out the phonebook on a snowy morning, set up a phone tree with all your employees’ contact details. This is a great way to notify your staff via e-mail or SMS of your decision to stay open or not.
Another way to overcome commuter issues is to let your employees work from home every so often. With practice, connecting to your business’s VPN from home will be second nature and your employees will be able to rectify any IT issues in advance. This way; your profits won’t collapse when Storm Hannah shows up.
Upskill your employees who are new to cloud computing or other applications. Updating skillsets will mean that closing the office won’t equate to financial loss; a win-win situation which will boost staff morale and protect their pay cheques.
Storm Days can become a whirlwind of logistical and HR challenges for both employer and employee. Update your inclement weather policy in advance to prevent staff dissatisfaction by generating a standardised company procedure. Teaching your staff how to effectively work from home builds trust, saves pay cheques and protects your business financially should your office be snowed in.
Taking these simple steps before disaster strikes will ensure you and your staff effectively weather the storm.