The current inclement weather may have been a pertinent reminder too late for some organisations that they perhaps haven’t planned for such an eventuality. With the typically mild climate we enjoy, weather which has the potential to impact on business operations is generally few and far between.
A number of businesses will seek solace in their Adverse Weather Policy. This document – often many pages long – outlines in minute detail exactly what employees should do in the case of weather which might impact on their ability to get into the office.
A hypothetical situation
The problem is that a policy is just that. Your Adverse Weather Policy might be as detailed as the Met Office’s weather warning page itself… but outlining what employees should do in a hypothetical situation doesn’t necessarily translate into what they actually need to do in a very specific set of circumstances.
What if their train to work is cancelled?
What if their children’s school is closed?
What if the day starts bright and sunny, but by midday there’s a blizzard forecast?
Trusting our employees
As you can probably tell, I don’t have a lot of time for Adverse Weather Policies. Ultimately, what we need to be doing is trusting our employees to be adults and to make the right decision for their personal situation in the circumstances.
We can also get ahead of the game. In this age of technology, more and more roles can now be carried out remotely. Typically, employees have been set up to work remotely as the exception rather than the rule. With the technology required to work from home becoming more and more affordable, why not ensure everyone whose work can be carried out away from the office is able to do so, from the day they start with you?
Admittedly, this isn’t the case for everyone. For those in customer facing positions, remote working isn’t usually an option. What should organisations do then in the case of adverse weather?
Talk to your people
The answer is, very simply, to talk to your people. Treat them like the adults they are and between you work out what a sensible solution is, given the circumstances. Might they be able to change the time of their shift, to travel before or after the worst of the weather? Could they possibly use public transport if the roads are impassable? Remember: the vast, vast majority of people will do their absolute best to get to work if they possibly can. Think about that, the next time you are writing a policy for the masses… which is actually designed to correct the behaviour of one.
Ultimately, there will always be times where, with the best will in the world, people are unable to get into work as planned. By demonstrating a degree of flexibility, and allowing them to take it as annual or unpaid leave, as opposed to taking punitive action, you remind them that they are valued and trusted members of your workforce. In a way that no Adverse Weather Policy has ever, in the history of snowy days, actually managed to do.