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How to Prepare Your Office for Bad Weather

By: Debbie McGrath

Sunday, March 1, 2015
 

Posted to HR.com by Bill Copeland, vice president, marketing, MassPay

As winter sets in across most of the country, the weather outside is not so delightful. Blizzards, as well as flooding and hurricanes, can wreak havoc with business operations and commuting employees. Planning ahead and documenting your policies and procedures in an employee handbook helps you focus on safety and make things a lot smoother when these events happen.

How to Prepare Your Office for Bad Weather

Businesses should examine their inclement-weather verbiage in the employee handbook to ensure that employees understand the company’s policies for these events and what is expected of them when these situations arise.

Issues that the employee handbook needs to address include:

• Conditions that will close the business

• Procedures for determining closure

• Communicating closure, partial closure and delayed opening to employees

• Determining essential personnel and their responsibilities

• Telecommuting and other options

• Pay policy (for hourly employees)

• Absence policy

These items need to be defined in the employee handbook for both pre-events (i.e., forecasted blizzard), as well as procedures during an event when employees are sent home.

Determine When the Business Will Close

First and foremost should be concern for employee safety. Recognize that much of your workforce may not live close to the office, so driving/road conditions are a major consideration. Many businesses look to the state or federal government to help them determine if they will close or not. For example, if a governor asks people to stay home and stay off the roads, then businesses need to seriously consider closing as well. During a storm, it will be important to continually monitor winds, snow depths, road conditions, temperature and other factors to determine if an early closing is in order.

Define How Closures Will be Communicated

In today’s digital world, communicating with employees is easier than ever. You can post the closure on your company website or send text messages to employees. Some companies use an automated calling system to communicate the company’s plans and expectations before and during an event. Employees should know where to seek out updates, such as the website, or a dedicated emergency line.

Ensure that your webmaster can access and update your website as needed. If you use an outside agency/company, then seek out other methods to keep employees informed (staff an emergency line, for example).

Establish your chain of command and have supervisors and managers contact their direct reports with this information. Many companies have an employee directory readily available (online or printed) to help with these efforts. The HR department should ensure that employee information (home address, home phone and mobile phone) are up to date. Encourage employees to verify their personal data.

Define Essential Personnel and Responsibilities

Some businesses need to have a skeleton staff in order to continue operating. Analyze your business and determine what staffing level is needed. Essential employees must be told that they are expected to be at the office, regardless of weather conditions. You may need to make special provisions in order to help them get to the office (contracts with a plow service, 4WD vehicles to pick them up, etc.).

In today’s digital age, much of today’s professional workforce can do some or all of their job from home. That expectation needs to be relayed to employees who can operate this way.

Pay Rules

Exempt employees typically are guaranteed their normal salary regardless of inclement weather. Many employers also will pay hourly, non-exempt workers for their scheduled shift in the event of a closure, but it is not required. In the event you send employees home early, most companies pay employees the balance of the remaining shift, but they are not legally obligated to do so. Check your state for minimum shift laws.

How Absences Count

Employees often are unclear if closures or partial closures count toward vacation and sick balances. These questions need to be addressed in your employee handbook. If the company is closed and salaried employees are capable and authorized to telecommute, and they choose not to, are they charged a vacation day? You also will need to address the hourly folks—will a missed shift be paid, unpaid or eligible for paid time off?

Company Liability

In addition, you may want to contact your attorney to discuss potential issues and how to limit company liability. Items to discuss include accidents that occur at the corporate site due to poor/negligent maintenance, and accidents involving the use of a company car or truck. This may impact your weather-related decisions, result in new procedures or warrant a revision of your written policies.

Organizations Must Improve Their “Grade” on Talent Management

Posted to HR.com by Liam Ackland, president, NGA.NET North America

When asked to assess their talent-management skills, organizations give themselves a dismal grade: a C-, or a 1.5 grade-point average, according to a recent survey report from Deloitte.

Specifically, more than 2530 business and HR leaders evaluated their proficiencies on a number of “urgent” needs for the report, titled Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st-Century Workforce. On the HR side, only 16 percent of survey participants say they’re fully prepared to take on leadership challenges, and a mere 20 percent indicate they’re ready to address demands related to global personnel and talent management, in addition to retention and engagement. Perhaps most telling, just 12 percent feel confident in their HR analytics capabilities.

Overall, respondents from business departments gave even more discouraging appraisals on nearly all of these essential functions. On the bright side, the latest report card is better than that for 2013, when organizations graded themselves with a D+.

Well, at least there’s room for improvement. And, a number of leaders are heading in that direction, as 47 percent had planned to increase their HR investment in 2014.

That’s encouraging, especially if the investment helps tackle the analytics shortcomings. In fact, 54 percent of survey participants say they’re “weak” when it comes to using analytics for recruitment and staffing. This is a recipe for failure.

The Power of Data and Analytics

The burden of proof within any modern organization rests within hard data. HR departments traditionally don’t put a heavy focus on technology and numbers/data, but there needs to be a change. As the Deloitte report notes, shifting demographics, technical advancements, globalization and new work arrangements mandate a re-engineering of “people strategies,” with analytics driving the transition. Many leaders are “refocusing HR as a ‘business contribution’ function—a role that demands deeper skills in data and analytics as well as MBA-level business capabilities,” it states. “The critical question is whether HR teams have the skills they need to rise to the challenge.” MF

 

Related Enterprise Zones: Management


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