Keeping your employees safe and business operations running smoothly during inclement weather situations can be a challenge to most organizations. Severe weather conditions like snow storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, dust storms or floods, could potentially put your staff in harm’s way as they commute to work.
How do you set up quick and effective employee communication in severe weather?
Have Your Severe Weather Plans In Place
If your office is located in parts of the country where severe weather is the norm during certain times of the year, you should already have an inclement weather policy in place. When do you keep your office or job site open and when do you close? Will you allow employees to work remotely? How will you treat work absences? How will you treat exempt level staff vs hourly employees? What administrative procedures should employees take if they choose to stay home because conditions are unsafe?
Make sure your inclement weather policy in your employee handbook is available through your company intranet or website and accessible even when your employees are not at their desk or in front of a computer.
Select Appropriate Employee Communication Channels
Part of your emergency preparedness plan should include a list of internal communication channels, how they will be used and when. Some organizations use phone trees, which may be appropriate if the situation is not as time-sensitive or if the size or your organization makes phone trees manageable. Sending company-wide emails is also important, since you can include a lot of details in your updates. However, employees may not check their emails in time or see it at all if their inboxes are flooded. Social media, messaging apps and collaboration tools are other employee touchpoints that should be considered. For weather notifications and other emergencies, text messaging is the most immediate and direct way to reach employees on their mobile phones.
Segment Your Employees
You may not need to communicate to everyone at once. If your organization is spread out across the country or across multiple regions, then you should segment your employees. Send notifications only to affected groups. This will help you prevent message fatigue in the future, which should prevent employees from paying attention to your messages when it matters most.
One way to do this is to have your employees segment themselves by joining the groups that are important to them. If they are from your New York office, have them opt-in to a group for the New York office only to receive SMS notifications for inclement weather.
Check In On Your Staff
Are you able to account for all your staff after the storm is over? Send out links to a short survey indicating whether or not they are safe. Or set up a text messaging system that allows them to reply 1 for yes and 2 for no, but does not overwhelm everyone with employee responses from a group text. You may also want to ask for feedback so you can improve on your organization’s emergency communication procedures.
Sending the right information at the right time to employees about weather conditions is essential to their safety. Be sure you have the right employee communication in place to minimize any disruption to your business operations.