February 16, 2015: With winter weather, including ice and snow, covering most of Middle Tennessee this morning, it is a good time to remind companies of the importance of a weather policy for your company. Remember, communication is key. It can be very frustrating for employees, customers, and clients to show up at your business only to find out it is closed. Some of the important issues to address are below.
Your weather policy should at least address the following:
Who makes the decision to close?
While many small business employees assume the owner makes the decision, it is important to clarify the chain of decision makers so every employee knows who has the authority to tell them not to come in.
How is the decision communicated to employees?
With increase in technology in the workplace, it is important to let everyone know how the decision will be sent out. Will it be via mass text message, email, or maybe some internal system the employees can access? Clearly outlining how the message will be communicated will help prevent confusion among employees.
How is the decision communicated to customers?
This is an important step in the process. Each small business should have clear responsibilities for certain employees in the case that the company is closed for weather. Does the office manager call and reschedule all appointments? Do you have a person in charge of social media that can post updates to Facebook and Twitter to allow customers to check? Maybe a quick post on the front page of your website? With clearly defined roles, getting the message out can be quick and efficient, which helps keep customers from being frustrated if they show up to a closed company ready to do business.
What are the exceptions of employees?
The policy should address what is expected of employees if the company is closed for the day. Many small businesses allow employees to work from home, so many of the business processes do not have to shut down due to weather. Clear expectations should be outlined so the employees know what will be expected once they return to work.
There are other considerations that are more specific to each type of small business, but it is important that a policy is created and reviewed with all employees. Good communication can help minimize any business loss during an unexpected weather related closure, and help get the company up and running again soon.
Luke D. Bottorff