Weather disturbances can hit anytime, catching many people unprepared. Recently, one of the most prolific rainfall events in modern U.S. history triggered catastrophic floods in South Carolina. The southern portion of the state even experienced 20 inches of rain for two days, submerging communities and damaging roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
While those rains may be too extreme to be experienced in other parts of the country, the historic storm also underlines the fact that the weather has become too extreme these days. It also stresses the need for companies to prepare for these types of events, especially to ensure the safety of their employees and minimize damage to their properties and business operations.
Having an emergency employee communication plan has become a necessity for many businesses given the unpredictable weather. With an employee communication plan for storms and hurricane, management would know how to inform their workers of an impending weather disturbance.
Weather, after all, can affect anyone in an organization, from the company president down to the lowest-ranking employee. Storms, ice, and snow can prevent both executives and employees from getting to work safely.
Importance of Having an Employee Communication Plan
Having an employee communication plan for weather disturbances is vital to any business. For one, it can spare the lives of employees who may still report to their stations despite heavy rains in the area. It is not uncommon for some employees to come in to work regardless of the outdoor conditions. Their reasons may vary—some go to the office because they no longer have leave credits to use, while others are concerned with their pay. No matter their reason may be for insisting to report to work despite the bad weather, it is still the right of the employees to be informed of any work cancellation.
Moreover, weather disturbances like tornado can happen anytime, with little or no warning. Hence employees who are on their way to the office may not even know that a tornado has just hit the area where the office is located. But if there is an employee communications plan for disasters in place, then those employees would be alerted about the tornado right away.
Forming an Employee Communication Plan
In crafting an inclement weather communication program, the first step is to think about weather-related conditions that can happen in your area, and how these disturbances can impact the business.
The team in charge of internal communication plan during inclement weather should also decide who is responsible for announcing work cancellation. In some companies, the president is the one who gets the call. However there are also some firms which have disaster response teams that coordinate with local authorities first before announcing work cancellation. The plan should also clearly specify how the officer or team will make the announcement.
How to Communicate an Employee Communication Plan
A vital part of an employee communication plan during bad weather is the means by which announcement on work cancellation would be transmitted. The company should determine the communication tool to be used to reach out to employees and inform them that they should not go to the office.
Some companies use an Emergency Alert System such as DeskAlerts, to inform those who are in the office about a coming weather disturbance.
It has also been an emerging trend for companies to use social media to inform their employees that they should just stay indoors and skip work. A tweet or a Facebook post should be enough to communicate to employees.
The company must also not forget its external public, particularly its clients. If the business has a retail space, or the firm deals with customers on a daily basis, it is recommended that the employee communications plan must cite how to inform customers that the business is closed.
The company may have an advisory on its website, or send an e-mail to its clients. Even a voice message on the company’s trunk line should be enough.
Assess the Firm’s Liability
Finally, a communications plan for bad weather should also take into consideration the risks that the company faces should its leaders decided to stay open during a stormy day.
For instance, an employee could sue the company if the former can prove that the employer was negligent for opening the store despite repeated storm alert warnings from authorities. It may be advisable to check with the business’ insurance policy first to ensure that accidents on company property due to inclement weather are covered.
Businesses regardless of the number of employees they have should think twice about not having any sort of employee communications plan during bad weather. Having one can spare their leaders of worries regardless of the weather disturbance that may happen anytime.