HR policies - bad weather

HR lessons from the UK’s extreme weather

The Beast from the East. The Pest from the West. The past few weeks have seen the UK battered by extreme weather conditions, the likes of which many of us had never witnessed before. Whilst the general public battled to find a fresh loaf of bread and the supermarket shelves were emptied by anxious shoppers, a nation of business owners faced a very specific and uncommon issue. Public transport ground to a halt, roads became increasingly lethal and workplaces up and down the country were left unmanned.

Of course, some might say that the very reason why we were so unprepared is that we simply don’t see these kinds of conditions very often.  The weather was a one-off, something that we see once in a blue moon, and therefore it just doesn’t make sense for UK companies – and indeed, the UK government – to plough a load of resources into making sure that it’s business as usual.

Still though, if your business suffered at the hands of Mother Nature, you may well be thinking about the lessons that you need to take onboard, and the challenges that may be ahead as weather becomes more and more unpredictable. Here are a few important points that you may want to consider…

Robust flexible working practices can save your business in a crisis

If you’re running a retail operation, then your shop floor staff can’t carry out their work from the comfort of their own homes. That’s just common sense. But many businesses could benefit massively from implementing more flexible working practices that will ensure that when the unexpected does occur, it doesn’t mean that productivity has to fall through the floor.

Take a look at the day-to-day running of business and consider the changes that could be implemented to benefit both you and your staff. Could you allow staff to choose their start and finish times, within a certain window? Could they occasionally work from home? It may be time to overhaul working practices.

It’s easy to underestimate the value of day-to-day HR processes

Do your staff know what to do if they can’t make it into work? Is the process clear and well communicated? Often, it’s only when something goes wrong that the importance of this becomes evident. Ideally, you’ll have procedures in place, so any problems are reported to line managers within a specific time frame and plans can be made accordingly.

There would have been plenty of businesses over the past few weeks realising that this was a problem for them. They wouldn’t know where their staff were, whether they should expect them in the workplace, and how the day would map out. Of course, there’s always going to be an element of this when we experience extreme conditions, but there’s much you can do to manage the impact.

A contingency plan can really save your skin

Did you have a plan in place to cover you for the weather? Had you considered the impact that it would have on your HR practices, your productivity levels, and your supply chain? A contingency plan is another one of those things that don’t seem too important until you really need it.

It’s impossible to plan for every eventuality. But strong businesses should always have at least a general series of steps that they’ll follow to mitigate any particularly challenging circumstances. While the Beast is still fresh in our minds, now could be a good time to discuss this with your team.

How did the weather impact your business?
Are there any changes that you’ll be making in light of the lessons you learned?

If you have any questions about dealing with unpredictable circumstances, give us a call for a no-obligation chat.