It’s that time of year when we focus on preparing year-end reports; looking at where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going. And, the arrival this week of the Polar Vortex across most of the country reminds us that winter has arrived.
Bad weather can greatly impact a small business. Just one day closed may reflect negatively on the bottom line. Not only during the winter months, but all year long, small business can be affected by turns in the weather, or by natural disasters, maybe flooding, severe wind and rain storms, even earthquakes. Are you prepared?
According to a survey of small business owners by Travelers Insurance, nearly 44 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not have a written business continuity plan, or any other documentation that outlines what actions should be taken in the event of serious weather emergencies. It’s easy to see the importance of this kind of planning, not only for your business, but also for your employees. Ensuring their health, safety and peace of mind is both critical and considerate.
If you don’t have an inclement weather policy for your office, here are a few guidelines for developing one:
- Clearly spell out who is responsible for making and announcing any closures, and how employees will be able to find out whether that decision has been made.
- Outline how the determination will be made as to whether or not the office will close. Will you follow the county government closings?
- Specify whether employees should use a vacation or personal day if they choose to be absent due to bad weather.
- Know how you will manage employee absences due to school or daycare closings.
- Establish guidelines and provisions if employees are able to work from home.
- Be sure you are knowledgeable about your current insurance coverage. See if it includes coverage for accidents on company property caused by bad weather conditions. If your company decides to stay open during bad weather and an employee has a personal accident, he or she may be able to sue if that person can prove the employer was negligent in remaining open.
These are just a few thoughts. We welcome specific suggestions you want to add that we can pass along to other readers. Now is the time to review your policies and procedures, and to prepare for inclement conditions.
Don’t let nasty weather blow you off course. There’s no time like the present to take action.