No, not the upcoming holiday “party-ed too hard” a la Office Christmas Party movie issues. I am referring to the multitude of literal natural disasters we have experienced on a national level this year including floods, hurricanes, wildfires and ice storms.
Here in Austin we may have snow flurries this week which means slow commutes if there are accidents. Have you considered your business continuity plans? What happens, for example, if we have another patch of icy days and your employees can’t make it into work? Or if work is under six feet of water? Do you have a strategy in place? The morning that everything hits the fan is not the time to start pondering what happens to your company if no one can get into the office. So, before that happens, you might do well to consider some of the following:
What are you covered for?
And in my years of living in Austin, I can remember many times when a section of Lamar Blvd has been so flooded, cars were floating down the street. The question is, what are you covered for? Is it adequate? Does it cover employees heading into work during inclement weather? Does it cover floods and fires? Do you know who to call?
How do you let employees know?
Let’s say the highway patrol is begging people to stay home and reduce the number of accidents on the road. Do you have a plan to contact employees? It could be an email or text notification, a company portal, a phone tree or a phone number where they can hear a recorded message. It’s best to have a plan in place to let people know that work is canceled or starting late.
Who absolutely has to be at work?
Of course some of your employees may be able to work remotely. Possibly all of them can. But is there anyone who has to be on site or else the company is shut down for the day? Do you have a plan for that person to get to work when transportation is nearly impossible? Do you have a contingency plan with someone who lives closer? What are your options?
What do you do about the missed days?
So, because there was a terrible flood or ice or whatever, employees could not get to work. Is that part of their paid time off? Will they have an opportunity to make up the time? Do they get paid or not? These are things you should decide well in advance. You need to have rules decided for exempt and non-exempt employees and include the rules for those who can work from home and those who can’t.
Better safe than sorry. It’s no fun to have to shut down your organization, but you don’t want to be demanding employees come in if doing so would put them in harm’s way. So make sure to tell employees to consider their safety when deciding whether to come in.