Severe Weather Policy Tips For Small Businesses

Sign saying Hurricane Evacuation Route with a forward arrow on it.
| 02.27.23
Sarah Prais

There are few things in life one can predict or change. One, of course, is Mother Nature herself and what she often brings to the table: weather. As seasons continue to fluctuate in different regions of the US, it might be a great time to update or create a severe weather policy for employees for your small business.

Having everyone on board with the procedures that help keep everyone safe and keep your small business up and running in the event of severe weather is invaluable. Severe or inclement weather can range from blizzards, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis, and even volcanic eruptions depending on your location. A severe weather policy is needed virtually everywhere!

What To Include In A Severe Weather Policy For Your Small Business

You have choices to make. Some businesses choose to operate off what their local government advises during severe weather. For example, some schools opt for snow days when roads become too dangerous to drive students to school. Announcements are made to shut the school down, right? You’ll also have to consider closing or not much the same way. Having a policy spelled out will help reduce confusion when the snow day hits. Here are some tips:

  • Outline under what circumstances your business will close. If roads have reached an unsafe state, you’ll need to have a policy in place that clearly states your business’s operating procedures. Can people work from home instead? Who cancels appointments? Who handles signage, voicemail messaging, and social media messaging? Think about both your employees and your customers and clients. List it all out and discuss it with a trusted advisor.
  • If possible, make a late start option available. If you deem the inclement weather event as not long-lasting, and transportation is safe for your employees after a certain point, then state the procedures for this clearly in the policy so your employees will not be penalized.
  • Determine how your employees will receive pay. What happens if your business closes due to inclement weather before employees arrive? And what happens if it closes after employees have started work? Pay policies will be top of mind for employees. Will they receive partial pay or be credited for a whole day? If your small business allows for voluntary absence due to weather, you can opt to deduct a vacation day as you see fit within your HR policy, as long as you state it in a severe weather policy and communicate it to your employees.
  • Use a communication system to alert all employees. This is crucial if a severe weather event is preventing your small business from opening. You’ll need to figure out what works best for your small business. You have a variety of communication tools at your disposal to alert your employees such as calling directly or a phone tree, text messaging, social media updates, and the larger considerations of radio or TV. There is even a tool called AlertMedia that has aided certain regions that experienced wildfires!
  • Include remote or hybrid employees in the policy. Consider how remote or hybrid employees will operate if the rest of the business has closed. Another facet to consider is that remote employees may be facing their own severe weather that may impact their ability to work remotely. Put a policy in place for both instances if your business is in this position.
  • Assign the unavoidable tasks clearly. Due to their roles, some employees within the company might be called on to ensure the building is still operational even in some cases of severe weather. Make this clear in job role descriptions. Include what happens if it is too dangerous to do this part of their role. Can they log in remotely to complete their work to keep the business afloat temporarily? This is crucial to highlight in your inclement weather work policy.

Everything in your small business’s severe weather policy needs to be clearly written for all of your employees to understand it easily. It is important for both the employer and employees to come to an agreement that safety is paramount in unpredictable situations that concern weather because it can change so rapidly. In today’s world, Mother Nature will throw just about anything at us. A well-thought-out severe weather policy that everyone opts into keeps your business prepared.

About the Author

Sarah Prais is a content creator who enjoys blogging on a myriad of topics both professionally and personally. She loves spending time with her crazy dog, and watching anything on Shudder with her fellow horror fan—aka boyfriend.