Flexible Firms Don’t Suffer During Snow
Employers can reduce the impact of the bad weather on their firm’s productivity by allowing staff to work flexibly — that is the message from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) following the longest cold spell in the UK for 30 years.
With temperatures falling as low as -18°C and snowfall of more than 16 inches in parts of the UK, many employees across the country decided that the journey to work was too difficult to risk going in to work.
However, according to the CIPD, the severe weather does not necessarily have to mean major problems for employers.
“Many firms that have put in place the technology and management practices to allow home working reap the benefits at a time like this,”
said CIPD organisation and resourcing adviser, Rebecca Clake.
“Small firms may be more badly affected than most if key staff can’t make it to work, but they could also potentially be more flexible,” she added. “If a key person can’t get in, there will be fewer people to help meet the shortfall. However, in some ways small firms are more flexible and they are likely to be set up to do things more informally, such as home-working.”
Clake said that employers should put a policy in place for dealing with unexpected situations such as bad weather.
“It’s helpful to think about the consequences in advance, and if you don’t have a policy you should have clear communication with managers about how you are going to deal with problems,” she said. “A business may require employees to take the time off as annual leave, or to work from home if possible.
“Employers need to be reasonable with people and use common sense — if someone has to drive in icy conditions or lives further away, employers should allow them to take a day off or leave work early,” added Clake. “They need to be understanding to retain morale and motivation. It is also a legal obligation to allow employees with children emergency time off if their child’s school is shut.”
The Forum of Private Business (FPB) predicted that a single day of bad weather could cost UK business £230 million due to employee absenteeism.
FPB research manager, Thomas Parry, said that it is harder for some sectors than others to minimise disruption during bad weather conditions.
“Firms that work from offices are probably the least affected, as with modern communications they can generally ask employees work from home. The manufacturing sector will be more badly affected because they will lose people from production lines, and so on. Retail will also be badly hit.”
“However, there are also areas that benefit from the snow — for example, online purchasing of goods and services — because people will have potentially more time,” added Parry.