The Ups and Downs of Snow Days!

Inclement weather

Did this week’s weather take you by surprise? This week has been filled with wild snowstorms, icy roads, and frigid temperatures. Many businesses have called a “snow day” and closed their doors, sending staff home. With school closures, transit delays, and unsafe driving conditions, closing for the day may be the right thing to do, however it’s something that employers need to manage.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you consider your “inclement weather” options:

  1. Have a plan. Time to pull out those dusty emergency preparedness plans and put them in action! Hopefully they are up-to-date, and you have a clearly designated decision-maker for when to send staff home. This makes things run a whole lot smoother.
  • Consider everyone’s safety. Clients, customers, and staff alike. If it is unsafe for employees to travel to work, or to stay at work and be unable to travel home safely, then it is best to close up shop. In environments where you can’t close, make sure that employees know they must stay until someone comes to relieve them. If they must leave, be sure that they are clear on who they need to talk to first.
  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Make sure that everyone is clear on what the communication protocols are. Tired of answering the same question 10 times? Update staff regularly with updates so that people’s best judgement can prevail.
  • Go virtual. Many organizations allow staff to work from home now and again so in some cases, this is no different on a snow day. In other cases, employers have a list of projects that can be done when working from home, for just this kind of snow day occurrence.
  • Know the rules. It is important to make sure, after all is said and done, that you follow the protocols for how to pay staff for days that they are unable to work based on the weather. Consult your organization’s policy manual, talk to your payroll person in finance, or consult with your provincial Employment Standards Act.

In today’s flexible work environments, a snow day can be as easy as everyone having a “work from home” day at the same time. The hardest part about snow day is actually calling it! At what point do you decide to just pull the plug and send people home? The answer to that is case by case while you consider your environment, everyone’s safety, and your desire to head outside and build a snowman!

Your Engaged Assignment: If this week’s snow day caught you off-guard, this would be a good time to check your policies and protocols and update them with your lessons learned. There is one thing we all know for sure – snow days are a possibility every year so your work will not go to waste! Don’t have what you need to successfully manage snowmageddon? Give us a call – we can help you out!