How to Manage Office Snow Days

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It is nearly that time when we wait with baited breathe to see if the forecasters will predict snow and the bookies start betting on the chances of a white Christmas. For some parts of the UK snow is not an unknown phenomenon, it is a given and life continues. However many of us are not used to it and memories of last year’s snow days fill us with a little bit of excitement akin to when we were children.

Snow days, however, are not as much fun as when you are a child, the roads are treacherous, the shop shelves are empty or worse still they are closed and for those of us with school age children the schools are closed leaving us with childcare challenges. It is important to be prepared for these scenarios, keep a shovel, some rock salt and a blanket in the car, and stock up on soup and non-perishables at home, because you never know you could actually be snowed in for days at a time (well maybe a slight exaggeration).

Companies also need to be prepared, a snow day doesn’t need to mean that the business needs to be disrupted, employers need to prepared with a robust Policy, ensuring everyone knows the procedure.
  • Ensure those who can work at home have the proper technology to do so, making sure that business continues as close as to normal as possible
  • Be flexible and as understanding as possible with your staff, a good gesture will go a long way
  • Don’t pressure employees to feel they have to come in if the roads are bad or public transport is cancelled
  • Make sure employees know exactly what the notification process is to avoid any confusion or conflict later
  • You are not obliged to pay employees, if they are unable to attend work due to bad weather or poor traffic, they can take the day as holiday as unpaid leave or if they have to stay at home with their children they can take the day as unpaid parental leave. This should be clearly stated in the Policy
The wellbeing and safety of your employees should be paramount in a situation where it is potentially dangerous to try and get into work. Showing your people that they are your primary concern will earn their respect. They are far more likely to come back to work with a spring in their step, keen to work and with tales of their adventures getting through ’20 feet’ snow drifts, than if they spent 3 hours trying to drive 4 miles or on a cold train platform because they had to get to work. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are far more likely to be engaged and productive which will only benefit the company.

Forecasters are predicting the ‘coldest and harshest winter for almost a decade with heavy early snowfall’, I am sure I have heard that before, but it can’t hurt to be ready just in case.

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