In a country that should be used to extreme weather conditions, it’s surprising how much a freak snowstorm, like last Friday, can catch us by surprise. For some companies, a snow day may make business as usual a difficult proposition especially if your employees can’t make it into the office because the snow plow has not arrived in their part of the neighborhood. However for some companies, like Boston Pizza, they took the opportunity to use the snow day to advertise their business and ensure that their customers knew the restaurant was open for business on Friday.
Boston Pizza sent out an email at 9:00 a.m. on Friday to their customers informing them that, minus the blizzard outside, their restaurant would indeed be open. The email read “there’s a flurry of activity at Boston Pizza”. This was a fantastic initiative for a company that’s customer-focused. Sending out an announcement in the morning immediately eliminates any questions about whether someone’s favourite pizza and pasta joint is open or not. It also serves as an advertisement for those who were thinking about going out to lunch but couldn’t decide where to go. This was contingency planning at its best.
With climate changes being as unexpected as they are, what has your company done to plan for situations such as Friday’s snow day, because if you are like most of us, you may simply not be able to afford to close up shop for the day. Having a contingency plan in place for extreme weather conditions or other situations like this, that is developed prior to when you need it, is critical.
So what's your company policy if you wake up to a winter wonderland outside?
The first place to start is by clearly defining your contingency policy. It seems amazing that while every school board in the province has a clear policy for snow days, most businesses don’t know where to begin. It’s important not to wait until a day like Friday to decide what your policy will be. Make sure the policy is in place before the snow starts falling. This will remove any doubt of what to do when a snowstorm or similar situation occurs and it will ensure that employees know what is expected of them.
That being said, some employees travel 10 minutes to get to work, others travel up to an hour to get to work so you may have some employees that are going to make it in to the office regardless. Your policy should take into account the different circumstances for each employee. For example, it may be unreasonable to expect someone who commutes four an hour on the Greyhound bus to make it into work on a day like Friday, compared to a colleague who lives a 10-minute walk from work. Can your employees work from home through intranet or collaborative systems like WebEx or Google Docs? This is a good option to have so that you don’t lose productivity by shutting the office down for a day.
Once the employee policy is in place, you need to make sure you have a plan in place for your customers. You need to evaluate how well you’ll be able to serve your customers, if at all. The reality of Canadian weather is that it affects everyone. Just as you might not be able to make it into work, your customers will likely be in the same scenario as you. Do what you can, but know that with the 24-hour news telling us all how poor the weather conditions are, customers will be understanding.
What are the important things to do in case of a snow day?
There are some quick things that you can do to ensure that you’re prepared for a snow day:
The important thing to do is to make sure there are no questions from staff or customers surrounding your workplace operations when a snowstorm has hit. Ensure that your policy is in writing and communicated to encourage employee compliance.
Need help writing your policy? Clear Path can help. We offer services to help you develop individual policies or a full employee policy manual. Visit our website to find out more. www.clearpathemployer.com
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