Hurricane Fiona was talked up in advance, and it delivered. Even though we had many warnings about its destructiveness, it was still overwhelming. As Atlantic Canadians, we know we can only prepare for the worst and hope for the best. For some, preparing for two weeks without power wasn’t on our radars.
With our new understanding of what to expect, how can we prepare for the next time? #ClimateChange #ClimateEvent
What we need to recognize is that everyone reacts differently to challenging situations. It isn’t a matter of right or wrong, just different. As an employer, recognizing that everyone responds in their own way will enable you to support employees effectively. Here are a few helpful points:
- Ensure good communications:
- Keep staff informed using different forms of communication: email, text, phone calls and physical postings with consideration of scattered power, internet and phone outages.
- Keep messages brief, informative, and supportive.
- Send messages at consistent times so that people know when to expect the next update.
- Scheduling: Offer rescheduling options. If you require notice for vacation time, relax the policy and/or let people work from home; don’t let people feel like they must attend work if it puts them in harm’s way.
- Privacy: Show compassion while respecting employees’ privacy
- Immediate needs: Address immediate needs to the best of your organization’s ability; providing a place for a clean shower (shout out to @Slaymaker&Nichols) or to do laundry, even a gift card for Tim Hortons …that is if they can even get to a Timmy’s!
- Performance expectations: Assure employees that top performance isn’t expected right now, but you appreciate what they can do.
- Share resources:
- Find out about and spread the word regarding possible resources such as tree clean-up or warming and charging sites.
- Provide any resources that may assist them in their specific concerns and be supportive of them in accessing any mental health resources that may be available and encourage the use of Employee Assistance Programs if in place.
- Give: Give out grocery gift cards to help employees replace spoiled food at home.
- Childcare and Eldercare: Assist with solutions; if working from home is not an option because children are there, maybe you can use space at the office to set up temporary childcare. Or if an employee needs to provide eldercare, allow the employee to work remotely.
- Rebuild: Later, have an event to bring everyone together …preferably not a potluck since there has already been a lot of food waste from power outages!
As an organization, once things get back on track, consider a joint employer/employee emergency response plan review. There are always lessons to be learned and improvements to be made. If you realize you do not have an Emergency Response Plan in place, this will be a good team-building project!
You’ve got this!