In the last few months, as numerous storms have swept across the USA, it’s not surprising that the amount of time off requests coming in to the HR office have been high for many employers. This is usually the norm, because employees have to deal with their children, personal property, and other responsibilities when the weather turns sour. No employer wants to put employees at risk of death or injury trying to come into work during nasty weather conditions.
The Difficulties of Managing HR When Bad Weather Happens
However, this can cause challenges for already busy HR teams who are trying to maintain bare bones operations during such times. If the call isn’t made to shut things down completely (during a state of emergency), then it’s likely that a large number of employees will ask to take unscheduled time off during poor weather events. These difficulties can include:
- Lack of enough people or skillsets in certain departments creating potential safety hazards.
- Work shut downs that cause other departments to be without tasks or thrown routines.
- Employees coming in at unexpected times making it hard for management to maintain control.
- Employee no calls no shows that confuse other team members and supervisors.
- Paid time off / Sick leave time abuse from employees who are without these benefits.
- Difficulty tracking and documenting employee time off for payroll purposes.
Making it Simple to Manage Unplanned Absences
The only real solution to the problem of handling time off requests during bad weather or other dangerous conditions, is to have a central and easy-to-implement system for both employees and employers to document these necessary call outs. Here are some suggestions:
The Messaging System – Make sure your organization has a central call in number where all employees can leave a message if they must be out for the day. Make it toll free. Add recorded updates about office closures, late openings, and information for employees as to how they should request time off if they need to.
The Call Chain – As an employer, you’ll want to have updated contact information for all employees and assign a manager to call any missing employees within 2 hours of their scheduled shift. You can use a simple HRM or HRIS system and give employees and managers access via a secure login on their computers and mobile devices.
The Time off System – Create a central calendar where both the HR department and the management team can log time off requests for employees, paid and unpaid. Your HRM will most likely have tools for this, or you can just set one up in Google calendars and provide password access. Make sure all HR and payroll teams can check this calendar and get documentation for any unscheduled time off requests.
The Floating Holiday – To reduce abuse of your paid time off and sick time leave policy, educate all employees frequently throughout the year about when they can use this benefit. Give employees one floating holiday per year they can use for unexpected emergencies, and encourage them to reserve at least 1 additional vacation day for bad weather events.
The Remote Option – As often as possible, your workplace should offer options to work from a remote location or from home. Make at least part of your business friendly to flexible and home-based work, with cloud based technology that is accessible from non-work locations. This can help maintain customer service and other vital functions during times when the business location must shut down.
By using the above tips, you can help to manage unplanned time off during the poor weather that’s to come and help your employees to remain productive.